January 06, 2005


An article referenced in today's Wall Street Journal from "HealthDayNews" (sic) is headlined "Passive Smoke Lowers Kids' Test Scores." The story admits that no one tested the parents' intelligence to see how strong a link there may be between natural intelligence and nurtured intelligence.

I would venture an educated guess that no one tested the researchers' either -- and that no editorial person was consulted in the naming of the publication. We former editors like spaces between capitalized words.

My parents smoked. Almost my entire extended family smoked. Those who didn't, should have. It might have made them semi-bearable people. They didn't drink either, the nonsmokers of 1960. Their loss. They missed my family's strongest genetic link: addictive tendencies.

As an infant, after dinner at my grandmother's house, I was frequently the center of attention as the centerpiece of a table filled with smokers. They thought I was cute and wanted to admire me.

In the nineteeth century, Queen Victoria publically considered anesthesic as a great advance for women during childbirth. In my mom's era, women were told that if they smoked, they would have an easier delivery. Turn that around to today's context, and it reads "smoking may lead to lower birth weight." An easier delivery, as I see it, is the logical extension of lower birth weight. You don't need to be a genius to make that connection.

Considering how much pain and suffering every child will eventually cause its parents, I say, why start earlier than you have to? From TV, women in childbirth look undermedicated, shriek in great pain, and, overall, make a great advertisement for women like me to get our tubes tied.

My birth weight, somewhere between five and six pounds, was probably as much as my very petite mother, even in her "twilight sleep" could take. So, she smoked, as did the rest of my family, and when we were children, no one bothered about fresh air in the car.

This must be why I only scored in the 99th percentile in my SATs.

Clearly I would have done better in school if no one around me had smoked. I might have gotten A-pluses instead of As. I might have been considered intellectually able to attend an even more prestigious school than my previously mentioned alma mater. Tant pis. I never wanted to go to Harvard. I wanted to go to Radcliffe, but when it was my turn, the admissions offices, along with everything related to the two colleges, had merged.

Damn, if only it hadn't been for all that smoking. That must be why I can't typeset or manage HTML commands. There, I've found it. All that nicotine just pushed the neurological transmitter responsible for typesetting right out of my brain. I think that transmitter was also connected to the good-driver-likes-to-drive hard-wired component of my brain, as that one seems to be in short supply.

Light a cigarette, drop an IQ point. I quit after 25+ years, but if only I could smoke indoors, I'd be shedding IQ points faster than Bunny-Boo-Bear sheds his winter coat. I might also be insulated from the world of politics, where I keep looking, in vain, for the Logic Lady (tm) to make an appearance.

(Note to antismokers and natural childbirth advocates: if you can't understand what is sarcastic and what is sardonic, please don't start in with me.)


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