It has come to my attention that rampant stupidity has replaced apathy as a national pastime. There has been great demand from my many vigilant fans (hi Lucy, Dan) that I address it immediately. I must admit that I”m not an expert on ignorance, but I myself have heard stories of several wanton acts of which, for scientific purposes, I”d like to call “dumbness.”

Paul Wong
Located in the Michigan Union, STA Travel is a popular place for students to book their spring break travels.<br><br>BRETT MOUNTAIN /Daily

For the purposes of this discussion and my careful research, “dumbness” is to be defined as follows: The state of being in which people (men or women) often engage in asinine acts resulting in the overwhelming urge to smash said person”s face into Navajo corn mash with a sledgehammer.

Note that this definition has nothing to do with learning potential. It is quite possible to have a lower intelligence when it comes to academia and still remain quite dumb-free. Mortimer, for instance, the sage who cuts my hair, never graduated from high school, yet his wise musings and astounding common sense have gotten me out of many a sticky situation. (I”ve anthologized our time together in my upcoming book “Hey, Buddy, Don”t Sit on That,” available in May from Viking Books.) On the flip side, many people who excelled in school and hold lucrative jobs (the humor writers at The Michigan Review, for instance) actually have brains the size of a Chef Boyardee meatball.

For research purposes, I strapped on my backpack and left the Daily”s Maynard branch (where I keep an office) and ventured, for the first time in my tenure as a Voice of the Students, to class. I was flabbergasted at what I saw throughout the day. More accurately, what I heard.

I started early, hitting an 8 a.m. cultural anthropology discussion session, eyes wide open, trying to discern those afflicted with dumbness from us normals. The GSI was reviewing material for the upcoming test. The test was to cover all of the material that had been discussed in the last two lectures and one chapter in the book.

“Wait,” said a tangentially gumpy chap sitting in the second row, “was it the hunters or the gatherers that hunted?” I remembered later to find out his name, which I”ll conceal but refer to as Lord Assfaceterham for conversational purposes. I put a star next to his name and decide to do further research. The GSI told him that the information he sought was in the book. “You”re doing a horrible job,” he said to the GSI, who could hardly speak English, “you don”t deserve the $1,200 a month.” After an uncomfortable silence, I pleasantly offered half of my brain to Lord Assfaceterham. I figured, that way, we could both get an A on the test.

Next, I was off to a Statistics 100 class. I don”t want to be to specific as to times and dates in order to protect the Daily from lawsuits, but the class was in Angell Hall Auditorium B from 1:30-3 p.m., Tuesdays and Thursdays. During the lecture, I noticed that that a series of nearly identical girls with thick New York accents and bulky purple coats sitting behind me seemed confused. They whispered to each other in the fashion of a 1930s comedy farce: Not actually speaking quietly, but changing the tone of their voices to emanate whispering.

“He”s not making any sense,” the one with wavy hair and horn-rimmed glasses said to the group, or possibly someone in West Hall.

“Wait! Go back!” This time, the short one with the black shoes and the nine-inch heels spoke directly to the professor. She was still copying down information from the Powerpoint slide that had been up for the past 10 minutes. The prof clicked the slide back as he reminded the class that the slides, in general, were already up online, and that that slide, in particular, was just a photocopy of the front of the book.

After class, I stopped the girls to ask them some pertinent research questions. “Excuse me, New York Sorority Stereotypes, but don”t you think that it would have been easier to learn if, instead of talking all through lecture about what the answer to 32 down was and how you”re going skiing over spring break and how boring Ann Arbor is and how funny “Friends” was last week, you had simply listened and taken a note? I mean, even the syllabus indicates that this class was designed for monkeys to accidentally be able to get a B+?”

I had struck gold this small band of women was clearly the main carrier of the dumb epidemic, the epicenter, if you will.

“Well,” replied the one wearing the lip-gloss and Abercrombie sweatpants, whose cell phone had rung twice during class, “If you”re so smart, why are you ugly?” She high-fived her friends and they all walked away.

Lyle Henretty can be reached at lhenrett@umich.edu.

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