The other night I went to the movies and got a real surprise. After the previews a snowy landscape filled the screen followed shortly thereafter by a lone silver wolf and then the bright crimson of a Kremlin Flag. The hammer and sickle softly faded into a shot of some Russian solders in fur hats smoking cigarettes in the barren cold. They began to converse and English subtitles filled the bottom of the screen. Quickly I looked around in the dark…did the other movie goers look smart? Were they dressed in black with berets? Did anyone have a goatee or look like a beatnik poet? Was there another blond or was I in the wrong movie theater?
And that’s when it dawned on me that I am not an “intellectual.” Not one part of my being got excited about the prospect of watching some quasi-existential drama about tough times in the motherland. And the more I thought about it the more the tics in the ‘Not Intellectual’ column started adding up. I’m not one of those people who spout Shakespeare at whim nor have I ever recited Tennyson while rowing down some quiet, bucolic river. I like Project Runway better than CSPAN and I’d rather read fiction than do the New York Times crossword puzzle. I’ve always wanted to be constellation-savy, but the only cluster of stars I recognize is the big dipper. I know the knee bone’s connected to the thigh bone, but I still can’t get my head wrapped around the functions of code in a double helix. Harry Potter did not steal the Sorcerer’s Stone.
And you know what? It’s okay. Some of us are meant to wear tweed and some of us are meant to live in t-shirts with beer slogans. I think my somewhere in between is acceptable. I’m not watching that Russian movie, but I’m also not rushing out to see Jackass, the Movie. So if you ever find yourself in a strange movie theater thinking, “How did I end up in this strange movie theater?” don’t panic. The intellectuals won’t bite. Just quietly mutter to yourself about a logarithm, Telemachus, and a vote on the hill while you clumsily grope your way up the aisle towards safety.