The Inept Genius

Inept, a harsh word by definition. Yet used widely in all realms of media to describe anyone who misspells, misspeaks or missteps in public forum or physical place and time.

After browsing several online thesaurus and dictionary’s, I came away frustrated and even defensive. Synonyms like; clumsy, awkward, inappropriate, unskilled, and stupid popped up frequently in my searches. My favorites, “MALADROIT and GAUCHE”, what haughty gathering of “Horse-faced”, “Inbred Nobles” would one need to attend to hear such fancy degradation of another human being?!

I don’t get it. Why are we collectively so mean and why are we so good at it? What disturbs me more is that such language is more often directed at the less fortunate, less educated, the collective middle-lower class. (American Peasantry) seems more appropriate. That’s not to say that the oppressed and maligned are any less guilty. Since their voice has little affect on the upper class, they turn their frustration inward.

As for the upper class, (American Nobility) at least publicly, seem to be less vulnerable to the affects of bad press and snooty banter. They wield it among themselves like sabers dulled for the theater. At the end of Act One, everyone goes back to their glass towers and gated communities. No blood shed.

So what’s with the title of this piece, “The Inept Genius”? It was suppose to be about my father and to a lesser degree, myself. I was going to write about my father’s extreme intellect yet inability to follow through on most things. He was socially absent, yet could talk exhaustively “at you” about the gearing of a 1927 model X Duesenberg transmission, (that he rebuilt from original blueprints). The last a point never included unless asked. He had stacks of note books with mathematical equations and sketches of steam locomotives detailing the function of every part.

In the end, he died at 65 years of age from emphysema, a lifelong smoker of Raleigh non-filtered cigarettes, 4 packs a day.  And he was penniless, spending his last days in a nameless ward of a small county hospital.

His life in so many ways is a metaphor for our society. He was both a Nobleman and a Peasant. Where he was gifted with endless potential so are we as a collective. Where he failed to follow through so do we, both as Noblemen and Peasants.

It starts with our words and ends with our actions. Time will tell if we are able to follow through.


Note:  I only saw my father a couple weekends a year growing up. Those weekends were magical. I loved to hear him tell stories of running down to the train tracks to watch the steam locomotives come through town. We spent hours working on his model railroad and talking about cars, trucks and steamships. He had an album that had every article from the local newspaper that mentioned me in sports. I truly think I’m the only person he ever really heard when they spoke. I never felt so loved and important.

As for me, I’m working on being better at following through. I have a loving supportive wife that makes sure I hear when other people speak to me. And socially, I do pretty well. I hate small talk and avoid haughty people, although I can pretend when necessary. As far as genius.. What is that anyway? Success for me, is following through.