His name is Howard. He’s the smartest man the world. I have known him for pushing 35 years and usually, when we get together, I just sit in awe and listen. Occasionally, I chime in only to regret it a minute later while he recites the law, the Magna Carta or the Canadian Constitution as if it were as common as when we used to quote Chandler Bing on Friends.
But smart has never really been defined by me as knowing details, facts, history, technology or anything academic. Not really. To me, most top academics were so universally inept at so many things, it was simply not possible to attribute any real intelligence to them regardless of their grasp of psychiatry, macro economics, physics or even history. If you can’t work a doorknob or drive a car properly, you simply can’t possibly be all that smart.
Howard doesn’t drive. No one will let him. He’s THAT bad a driver, it seems. But he STILL registers as the smartest man I ever met! So that gives you some idea of how smart he is. I judge everyone else in the world by how well they drive. He’s exempt from that. The guy is a guru. The quintessential, non-handy, non-driving professor who can tell you more about anything than you thought possible. Any topic!
And he is smart in a practical way when he wants to be. In anything. If he needs money, he just goes and ‘makes’ a million or two so that he can go back to doing what he loves. If he wants to impact the world in some way, he just does it. And he writes. He saves refugees these days and then he writes some more. Sometimes he will clean. Seems he is allowed to clean house now and then. Other than that mini-hobby, he is pretty much a thinker-guy, a writer-guy.
I once hosted a piece from him on my blog. You may recall….?
I also mentioned to him that I had written to an ex-US president some years back but got no response. “You missed nothing. Stupidest man I ever met – given his position. I was there once with him for four days. Mind numbing!”
“I spoke with him/her/them and………….” It is a common phrase to start a conversation with for Howard. Congress, the senate, the Knesset, the PM, the president, corporate heads…….it’s just boggling. I stopped asking him about various famous people and places because, after awhile, I was too stunned to hear the answer.
Is he really the smartest man in the world? He is definitely the smartest in my world. By a HUGE margin. So huge, it is scary. But the thing that makes us friends is that he is a also a good guy. Always does the right thing. This is a guy who has moral and ethical and goodness down pat. He’s a rock. If you ever get in that space where you think the world is going to hell in a handbasket, you should be so lucky as to have a ‘Howard’ to talk to.
He smiles and laughs as he tells you stuff you didn’t know you didn’t know. You come away from that not knowing MORE stuff so much as knowing that whatever you are feeling or thinking, whatever mood or fear you have, whatever worry or concern is troubling you, it is based on totally incomplete information. You are worrying based on 5% knowledge. Howard knows 80% of that topic (any topic) and he is still smiling.
May as well not worry.
“Never let them think you are smart. The universe is know place to start.”
I have managed to hide my own intellect rather well. Scars and bruises help. Not knowing anything at all and flat-line bank balance adds to the subterfuge. So does the ‘look on my face’. I have fooled them all!
Speaking of smart people.
Had a neighbor friend years ago that was relating a story about his father.
“Dont really know what my Dad did during the war years in England but when he was dying of cancer in the mid 1960’s the phone rang one day and i picked it up and a man with a british accent asked for my Dad so I yelled, “Daaaaaaaaad its for youuuuuuuuuuu!”.
He picked up and spent an hour laughing and joking with the person on the other end of the line. When he hung up he looked at his son and said, “Do you have any idea who that was?” “Nope.”