It can be measured. 1600 on the SATs will grant admission to a selective university; bra size determines the number of pages in your Playboy pictorial. Intelligence is measured in appearances. Your length, width, and girth determine how people will size up your smarts. The eye is a tape measurer waiting to wrap itself around your beer gut. If you’re slow-if you can’t run that extra mile or predict when two trains will collide three seconds before your classmate-you’re out. Intelligence is a pawn in the game of survival and if you’ve got it, you will win. Perhaps. Just make sure you’re measured in the right units. Grams, pounds, centimeters, inches, dress size, hair length, job salary, pages. Intelligence is relative and has the potentiality to be grossly misunderstood when judged out of context-a graph without axes.
The story made the third page of the Chicago Sun-Times: “Son Comes Home to Burning House While Parents Inside.” I knew about Mike. He went to my rival high school before getting kicked out for selling drugs. We had some acquaintances-I knew of those people, but would never associate with them. One summer night, days before what should have been his freshman year in college-he had to repeat senior year at a suburban school-Mike got high with his friends. They were in his basement and decided to turn off the smoke detectors, so mom and dad wouldn’t notice. They left around midnight and went to Lincoln Avenue, a popular yuppie nightspot where the bars stretched on for blocks. The gossip mongers say the smoke detectors were never turned back on. Apparently, Mike got a call from one his buddies-a friend who wasn’t with him-telling him that his house was on fire. Mike rushed home. The details from that point on are unclear. All that I, and the rest of the neighborhood, know is that Mike’s parents died embracing each other in the bathroom while they took their last breaths. “They were such good parents, it’s such a shame this happened,” one mother whose son went to school with Mike quoted in the newspaper. Mike now lives with his grandparents, or better put, his grandparents now live with the person who killed their son.