It first came to my attention when the St. Louis Post-Dispatch did a front-page-of-the-Everyday-section story a couple of years back entitled “He’s Twelve Years Old and He’s Smarter than You” about a young man, twelve years old (if memory serves me), who was precocious and knew enough mathematical tricks for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch to declare him smarter than Brian J. Noggle, or at least the average reader. I’ve discovered that paper has a habit of running stories highlighting young people with any sort of intelligence as wonderful curiosities.
It must be that time of year again, because the front page of the local news section carries the story “Triplets excel, but aren’t peas in a pod” which starts with this line:
Meet the 18-year-old Foglia triplets, who use SAT words like “acerbic” when asked to describe one another and who can lose their friends, parents and other adults with obscure, esoteric references.
They use “SAT words” (which means, I think, words that are found on standardized tests designed for high school students) like “acerbic” (which your humble narrator uses that word to describe himself all the time), and this makes these high school students stand out? Stand above the average Post-Dispatch reader, perhaps. Lose friends, parents, and other adults with obscure references? Not only can your humble narrator do this, but so can any other reasonably talented and specialized member of the geek community–which is not as small as one would think.
Note: To demonstrate his facility with the language, your humble narrator might point out that “obscure, esoteric” is redundant, and that the serial comma is not just a good idea, it’s the law, but this isn’t supposed to be about how smart Brian J. Noggle is. Were that the point of this blog piece, the author would also explain why he thinks Kavita, the name of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writer, is such a pretty name, given its Hindic meaning. But we wouldn’t want to show off, would we?
I don’t know what sticks me in the craw of these stories, which have become quite the boilerplate for the Post-Dispatch. I hope it’s more that they treat intelligent young people as anamolies or sideshow oddities than because, well, they never wrote one about me when I was a high school underachiever and am a sensitive, albeit super-smart, young man.
Well, I was, before I got old and bitter.