I’m sure you’re expecting me to give you sage advice about how you can improve your intellectual life by performing various yoga positions, by drinking lots of ginseng tea, or by reading through the entire syllabus of a college literature course. I’m not going to do that. Firstly, I am not a sage. In fact, I don’t even know what a sage is (a bush or tree of some kind?). Secondly, thirdly, and fourthly, I do not believe in yoga, I do not drink tea, and I can tell you from personal experience, reading through an entire syllabus of a college-level literature course will not make you look or feel smarter. It will, however, make you very tired.
Here is what I can tell you. There is one very easy way to achieve your “looking smarter” goal and, lucky you, it’s relatively cheap. You’ve surely already noticed (without noticing) this method often employed by Hollywood actors whose careers are stalling, or who actually make a decent living making B (or C) movies, but who desire to be “taken seriously” for once in their life. You will soon realize that you have in fact observed this method many times, especially if you’ve ever seen any news reports in which an important politician, while speaking about infant mortality rates of the Emperor Penguins or the economic unrest in rural Antarctica, is flanked by faces familiar to you from the silver screen. You will have noticed that these faces look straight into the camera, right over the politician’s noble shoulder. And no, they’re not just looking on with empty expressions from their contact-lensed eyes. They are looking gravely and accusingly from behind thick-rimmed eyeglasses saying “I’m as serious as a heart attack, and even though I’m not saying anything, my eyeglasses are saying plenty.”
Here goes my bit of wisdom. Are you ready? Pay close attention, I will say this only once.
You can make yourself look and feel smarter by accessorizing your daily appearance with a pair of eyeglasses, just like dozens of big-time celebrities have done before you. Make sure the pair you choose is trendy and bearing an expensive designer name. Make sure you are getting a pair that you can wear all day long, and in a variety of situations. No, I do not expect you to go deep sea diving in them, but you should be able to drive a car, operate a blender, and/or watch television while wearing them. Don’t worry about reading; you’re just trying to look smart, you don’t necessarily have to be smart. The pair you choose should not be rimless, the frame being the whole point of getting eyeglasses in the first place. Do not get frames that look like something your grandmother wore back in 1967. Style yourself after someone current, like Justin Timberlake or Johnny Depp. In fact, forget Justin Timberlake. Just go with Johnny Depp. A perfect example of someone who has for years tricked us into thinking he’s got something to say by simply hiding behind some well-chosen designer frames. And now you too can be that person!
I’m sure you’re wondering why I’m suggesting you style your look on two celebrities. Perhaps you’d much rather think of yourself as an emulator of a famous writer or statesman. If such is your desire, you can look up Truman Capote or Woody Allen. I can’t really suggest any political figure. Politicians do not wear glasses out of sheer fear they might be perceived as weak or vulnerable. I mean, seriously, would you vote for a candidate blind enough to actually need prescription glasses? Would you trust a world leader who couldn’t find his way around his own bedroom in the middle of the night? No, I didn’t think so.
Be advised that once you assume the look of a bespectacled (though often silent) smart person, you must stick to this appearance for the rest of your life. Otherwise you stand in danger of losing all of your hard-earned credibility. I say this to you from experience. I too was once a four-eyed intellectual. I had gone to college, read lots of books in poor light, and lost most of my sight in a ceaseless pursuit of esoteric knowledge. Then about two years ago I accidentally boarded the wrong bus. Notice how boarding the wrong bus often results in cataclysmic events. Rarely does it produce great scientific discoveries or amazing works of art.
What happened to me can be described as nothing short of catastrophic. Upon boarding this unfortunate bus, I realized I had in fact strayed into the world of the high school student. If you have yourself experienced high school at some point in your life (and sooner or later we all end up in this strange institution), you will remember how incredibly important “looking good” seemed to you then. The high school student isn’t concerned with looking smart. The high school student is only concerned with looking the same. As everyone else, that is. During my brief interlude on the wrong bus I realized that there is only one high school student in the entire world. His name is Ivan and he is repeatedly cloned to provide enough human material to fill classrooms around the world. In your neck of the woods he may go by another personal name, but whatever his name or nationality, he looks exactly the same everywhere. This, of course, is easily explained: all Ivans wear skinny jeans and apparently visit the same barber.
And no Ivan ever wears eyeglasses.
After this watershed event in my life, I decided it was time to lose the goggles. On the bus I had felt old, weird, and unfashionable. As soon as I de-boarded (and found my way home from the wrong side of town) I made a decision to stop being blind. Believe me, all it took was that steadfast decision and my unbendable will power. That and a very expensive laser procedure that scared the living daylights out of me. I do believe they actually scrape the top layer of your eyeball to get to the good part. For this reason it is advisable to always wear the meatiest eyeballs you can find whenever you visit your eye care professional.
Not a week after I reclaimed my sight (and gave up on reading books, books being the culprit for my blindness in the first place), I wished I’d never trusted that radio commercial claiming this painless procedure could change my life forever, and for the better. Suddenly I found that everyone around me looked older. The soft focus of my nearsighted eyes being repaired, I realized that everyone’s face (including my own) had aged almost beyond recognition. Often I approached strangers in the supermarket, confusing them with my brother. One young man resembled every other young man. This resulted in many unpleasant situations and long-winded explanations about why exactly I was following a complete stranger around the store, shouting “Are you coming to dinner tonight?” In addition, I was no longer considered the intellectual I had claimed to be for many years. Some people even came to my house to inform me (in tears) that since I was no longer bespectacled, they doubted every advice (good advice, too) I’d given them in the past. Many friendships were lost in this way. It didn’t help that at dinner parties I often unexpectedly exclaimed “Why, Maria, when did you get all that gray hair?!” Evidently people do not appreciate being asked questions like that, especially if they’re not Maria at all but only a friend of a friend visiting from Spain.
Here is one final parting point I’m going to make. If you are in need of corrective lenses, wear bulky eyeglasses. Forget about contact lenses; those never made anyone look smart. If your eyes are, by some miracle, still in pristine condition, bespectacle yourself immediately. Wearing eyeglasses will not increase your IQ per se, but they will trick everyone into believing practically everything you say.
And that, let’s face it, is all one can hope for.