On Dumb Guys
Approximately one thousand years ago, when Adrian and I were first married and living in a dump of an apartment on West 7th Street in St. Paul, we used to spend my ill-gotten gains teaching at the religious private school on premium cable. Which involved us watching OZ, that man-prison soap opera that has launched the careers of so many character actors on Law and Order, but whatever. There was a ton of nudity, which I love – who doesn’t? – and enough tough-guy drama to keep Adrian involved, though he was less into it than me, admittedly.
I especially adored the O’Reilly brothers, Ryan and Cyril. (Ryan went on to be the Mayhem guy in the State Farm commercials, and also Liz Lemon’s idiot boyfriend Dennis Duffy on 30 Rock, in case you’re burning up to know. Cyril went on to…I dunno. Be a character actor some more?) Anyway, Ryan was a manipulative psycho and Cyril was brain-damaged and on death row and I just LOVED them both. Especially Cyril. I thought Cyril was crazy hot.
“You have a thing for dumb guys, I think,” Adrian said and I nodded. I couldn’t argue. The vast majority of my boyfriends prior to him were knuckle-dragging mouth-breathers – we’d gone to high school together and I couldn’t hide this shame.
Adrian couldn’t see the appeal; pity for dumb girls is like a cold shower to his libido, where for me, I find the dumbness oddly compelling and startlingly attractive.
But it’s not because I like dumb people. Or like pitying people. Or find pity sexy.
It’s because I’ve also known way too many smart people whose smarts beguiled me into thinking they were kind and honest. Their enlightened views about Buddhism or jam bands or foreign films tricked me into thinking they would also be moral, ethical people who wouldn’t mislead me. Their intelligence masked their lack of emotional maturity. So I’ve come to see it as a turn-off, the high-minded talk, the witty analysis, the chin-scratching about poetry or art.
The tip-off was often some Continental comment. Some admiration for how people do things in Europe. Like how the French find the perfect breast size to fit into a glass of champagne. A sophistication that seemed to leave me in the dust as their rarified noses searched the air for someone as cloaked in fancy erudite bullshit as they were.
Adrian is very smart. Smart about things I will never understand, like calculus and particle physics and how to make polymers. I called him yesterday and asked him if he knew how to make Lucite and he said, “Sure,” and launched into a fully realized explanation, as if he’d been waiting for my call. But he’s not showy smart. He has never mentioned Foucault. He does not reference koans. He does not have an intrinsic appreciation for Mystery.
And neither do dumb guys. Dumb guys just tend to plow into you, grab you, kiss you, laugh at your jokes, ask you to buy them cigarettes, want to watch Will Ferrell comedies. And maybe they’ve never heard of postmodernism, and maybe they are clumsy when they get drunk and dump you, and sure, there are probably dumb guys who are also deceptive dickheads. But in general, I’d rather watch Cyril O’Reilly eat marshmallow fluff out of the jar while his older brother scams shit for them in the prison than try to find another smart guy who wasn’t also a fickle prick.