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Stupid

If ignorance is bliss than being plain stupid is extra special.

When I was nine, on the first day of school, the headmaster walked in and said there had been some mix up and that I should just go with him. So I collected my stuff and he led me to a brightly lit room with all of these other children in it. Some wore thick glasses; others were drooling a little. The teachers smiled widely and had slightly beleaguered looks on their faces. Not one to get into unnecessary conversations from a young age, I did the work pretty quickly and got plenty of praise. This was technically stuff I learned when I was four, but props to me for remembering it. This year would be a breeze.

I went home bragging about the progress I had made, told my mother all about my new friends, how fun everyone was and how I had done everything right. My mother, like any Egyptian woman, was immediately skeptical. My son? Enjoying himself? Did they give him food with sugar? Did they DRUG him and RAPE him? After an intense round of questions and the swift removal of everything in my lunch box (because ensuring everything was eaten will always remain the immediate priority of any Egyptian mother) and backpack, she put two and two together and figured out I was in the special needs class. This was worse than rape. Was her son stupid? What had she done to deserve this? My perfect day was ruined by an overwhelming interrogation and the subsequent yelling down the phone to whoever she could get on the line (the Indian receptionist).

Turns out, the white people running the school in Jeddah had confused us brown people and another Hassan had been struggling with regular classes. My mother ensured I was where I was supposed to be and spent the rest of the week making sure I wasn’t taken anywhere without her direct permission. My special needs moment came to a screeching halt. I think I’m still upset.

What would have changed had my mother not cottoned on to my swift acceptance of special needs children? Would I have been better off? Would it have prepared me better for Egypt? Could I have made it through life with a whole special needs education? I do have special needs, only ones that require money, rather than scholastic attention. I can’t help but wonder if being a little bit stupid might have served me better than all of the books and the films and songs and information. What good have they done me?

So, in my never-ending quest for happiness, I have decided to give up on knowledge. Without quite meaning to or planning to, I have jumped headfirst into being stupid. The only entertainment I can stomach is reality television or shows targeted at 12-year-olds. I haven’t read a book in about six months. I have grown my hair, because appearance is very important to stupid people. I drink sangrias and buy jeans I don’t wear. All in the hope that there is some truth that ignorance will eventually lead to some kind of bliss.

So far, in my day-to day-existence, this has served me well. I have managed to successfully live in stupid town. So fun. Sometimes though, when I have run out of shows/alcohol/drugs/people to bitch about/blogs/websites/the electricity is cut, I get pangs of wanting more. Wanting to read. Wanting to watch. Wanting to learn. Then I spill a bag of M&M’s into a jar of peanut butter and hope the sugar will take over. Sometimes knowing that you’re sacrificing your dreams for your day-to-day survival is something no amount of YouTube videos can remedy.

If I had a therapist, s/he would tell me I need to find balance. To enjoy the moments where I’m stupid and pick up a book in all those other times; “It doesn’t have to be the deepest book, but you should read. You should strive for balance in your life. Try to read a paragraph for every reality show you watch, go to an art gallery for every party you go to. Eat broccoli for every drink.” And I try. I strive to make my imaginary therapist proud. Alas, my character is far more suited to extremes; a very all or nothing attitude to life. And when you feel like you have nothing, sometimes you can’t deal with just the thought of having it all.


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