I’m a smart person. I probably used to be smarter back when I was in school and improving myself. But I still consider myself moderately intelligent.
I was watching an interview with Darren Aronofsky, the director of the movie Noah. They were discussing all the animals on the ark. Stephen Colbert asked if they had snakes on there too. Aronofsky assured him they did. And as the exchange took place, I wondered, “But what about the water animals? Did they save any of those?”
I was an honors student.
This is second only to the absolute stupidest thing I’ve ever let flit across my mind. One night as I was falling asleep, I started thinking (for some reason) about maps and their scales. You know, one inch equals 100 miles and so on. I wondered how large the biggest map was. I mean, had anyone ever make a 1:1 map?
Did I mention I was an honors student?
To my credit, even my half-awake brain recognized the stupidity of that one pretty quickly. But the point is that I did think it. That notion formed in my head and seemed, at least for a moment, like a perfectly valid thought.
I comfort myself with the knowledge that even funny, intelligent people like Louis CK experience this stuff — and are equally horrified by them:
“I saw this guy in New York one day, and he’s walking his dog. This is what I see: He’s got a coffee and a dog on a leash and a phone… He’s on the phone. The dog’s leash is going from the phone hand to the dog. I look at this and I think, ‘Oh, he’s, like, got a dog phone.’
“Like, that thought sincerely inhabited me for a full moment. I’m going, ‘Huh, I wonder what the benefits are of hooking your phone up to a dog.’ And then the other part of me that said, “WHY THE F— WOULD THAT EXIST?! You asshole!”
“I had a string of dumb thoughts the other day… I look up on the street and see this couple. They were just striking. They were a beautiful couple… And they have a child with them. But I can’t see their child because there’s a dumpster and other stuff. I just see a little head. And I’m waiting. I’m curious what they’re kid looks like because they’re so beautiful… They come around a corner. And this is a true story: it wasn’t a kid; it was a little, old Chinese woman walking next to them.
“And here’s what my dumb brain tells me, ‘Oh, that’s what their child is like.’ Not like, ‘Oh, she’s a separate person. She’s not with them.’ But like ‘Oh, that young couple gave birth to a tiny elderly Chinese woman.'”
So okay, at least I’m not alone. But it’s still mortifying for the small part of my brain that truly believes I’m a grownup.
I mean, I’m sure I had some genuinely stupid thoughts growing up. But a) I don’t remember them so they can’t haunt me and b) back then I could just chalk it up to being young. Now I’m in my mid-30s and dumb for no apparent reason.
Well, some of it may be the fatigue. That can muddy up your mental waters but good. On the rare occasions when I let things get really bad, I can have trouble grasping very simple, if abstract, concepts.
But I wasn’t tired while watching the Aronofsky interview. (No matter what I say in the future to try and rationalize this brief spot of stupidity.) Nor was I distracted or stressed or anything. The question just bubbled up from the murky depths of my questionable intelligence. As though it were a reasonable idea.
In other words, I think I have to accept that my brain forecast is smart with a 20% chance of dumb on any given day.
What’s the most ridiculous thought you’ve ever had (and are willing to admit to)?