What makes you such an authority on smart kids?

I am one. Always have been. I have a really, really bad case of 'mad genius' going, and have pretty much since I was born.

My birthday's in early September, so the school district wanted to have a look at me before they let me start kindergarten at the low end of the age range. The psychologist whom they brought in to have a chat with me suggested that they throw me into the gifted program when she caught me, a couple of weeks shy of five, reading her cursive case notes upside down. Somewhere around there I took my first and last official Stanford-Binet type IQ test; the result was a thoroughly ridiculous number, well over two standard deviations out, based almost entirely on the fact that there is no such thing as a set of questions that are age-appropriate for a kindergartener reading at a high school level. I basically made their test go TILT!.

These days I only take informal internet IQ tests when other people get the bright idea to judge how smart I am when I'm loaded with some kind of recreational chemical. At the stage of drunkenness where I am leaning on the keyboard rest and have to read the screen with one eye shut to make it stop wobbling around, I consistently come out at ~140. I'm not especially interested in joining Mensa or any of the other high IQ societies; after a certain point, smart is just smart, and I'm afraid I'll wind up in a group of people who spend the entire meeting comparing dick size test results, and that's hideously childish and boring.

Social reactions to this are mixed. I used to get kickballs thrown at me for reading Stephen Hawking on the playground when I was about ten. The school made a fairly big fuss over me, partly because my brains made them look very good on paper, but mostly because they had no idea what to do with a kid who read the encyclopedia for fun and then retained almost all of the interesting bits just in case she could use them later. My parents, who fell down rather a lot when it came to more basic socialization, were surprisingly good at dealing with my need to continually inhale information. Both of them are also genius-level or above, as are many of my relatives -- it's so common in the family, in fact, that my mother had no idea how very weird I was until I was old enough for her to take on outings with other mothers and their young children, where she could see the contrast for herself.

As for more recently, one of my housemates is a cosmologist who recently informed me that he thinks I might actually be smarter, academic-wise, than he is. Said cosmologist is scrupulously honest, sometimes to the point of jamming his foot in his mouth so far he can taste his own kneecap, and as subtle as an elephant in a tutu, so I tend to believe him. (He also has a very good idea of just how smart he is, which is not as common a thing as you might think.)

I do not think that being smarter than most people makes me a better human being. I just think it makes me smarter. Useful for some things, not so useful for others. There have been times when it has helped me immensely to know that, for any random person that I meet, I can assume I'm smarter than they are, and the odds are overwhelmingly in favor of me being right about that; it's always been one of those immutable facts of identity for me, like being short and liking small domesticated animals. It doesn't necessarily mean anything in and of itself, but it's a thing I should probably be aware of, in case it's ever a problem that needs to be worked around. And it's a thing to hang onto when the rest of life has gotten incredibly shitty.

One thing that I seem to have an extra dollop of talent for is languages. I cannot ever recall a time without words. One of my mother's favorite stories is about the time she took me, about a year and a half old, to the hairdresser's with her. While in the waiting room, I decided to stand up on her lap and read aloud from a sign across the room that said AIR CONDITIONING. She wondered how long I'd been doing that before I bothered to tell anyone. Apparently I'd been in the habit of lying on my belly, propped up on my elbows, with a book in front of my nose, turning the pages. Nobody knows when I started actually reading the things for obvious reasons, but I had obviously gotten the general idea very early. I still don't find it difficult to pick up new languages, and in fact I used to take random language classes in college when I ran out of other interesting electives.

In short, if you want a native guide to Scary Scary Smart Weird Genius Country, I'm your girl.

I also have a disquieting knack for being able to pick out other super-scary smart people the moment they open their mouths, and sometimes before they even do that. My gaydar is remarkably crappy sometimes, but my smert-dar works juuuuuuuuuuust fine. I can spot the gifted kids a mile away. I like to think of it as a survival strategy -- I use it to spot people I can talk to in order to stave off fatal levels of boredom.

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