The Hedgehog Review: Vol. 16 No. 3 (Fall 2014)
Reprinted from The Hedgehog Review 16.3 (Fall 2014). This essay may not be resold, reprinted, or redistributed for compensation of any kind without prior written permission. Please contact The Hedgehog Review for further details.
After sleepwalking through high school, I landed in a senior English class that caught my fancy, and one of the first things I did was shell out thirty-five cents for a Roget’s Pocket Thesaurus. After years of disaffection and tomfoolery, I wanted to be smart. And one way to be smart, by my adolescent reckoning, was to pepper my essays with words like disaffection and tomfoolery. I was being a smarty-pants rather than smart, perhaps, but new words represented for me a fresh world of books and writing and using my mind.
That old thesaurus, crumbling a little more every time I open it, has a wealth of synonyms and antonyms for a word like smart, and I would roam through it, as I am now, finding threads and connections. To be smart bears similarity to being intelligent, ingenious, or resourceful, and to being clever, witty, or quick. And then there are book smarts versus street smarts. And working smart. And, of course, a smart aleck with a smart mouth. Humanity lofty and flawed lives in these definitions.