Friends and relatives have been expressing concern about my frequent claim, on this blog, of being a Fat, Stupid Jerk. They needn't worry. This isn't a sign that my self-esteem is running low, or that I might be a danger to myself. On the contrary; arrogance and an inflated sense of self-worth are an important part of a F.S.J.'s diet. I'm really just admitting it before anyone else has a chance to point it out, so I can then call other people (and entire cultures) fat, stupid jerks without fear of reprisal. Which just goes to show I'm one.
But I haven't always been an F.S.J. I can't say exactly when I started to be one. My parents swear that I was fairly bright and even somewhat cute up to a certain age. Here is a picture to support their claim (at right).
Some of the evidence they supply is anecdotal rather than photographic. My mother, who seems to measure a child's intelligence by the creative ways he expresses himself, says that once, when I had a stomach-ache, she asked me what was wrong and I said, "I feel like gray eggs."
Dad, who takes creative communication for granted because it's one of his gifts, seems to stress the side of intellect that can cope with paradox and apparent contradiction. So, for instance, he often reminds me of the time he dressed up as Santa Claus and had me sit on his lap. I told Santa what I wanted for Christmas as if I totally believed it was him; and when I was done, I asked: "Santa, can Daddy come out now?"
So, yes, I had a certain charm...when I was about two years old. But by age eleven I was provoking my late stepfather to make the observation that continues to echo around the roots of my soul: "You are insufferably proud."