Not In A Bad Sense!

by jkatejohnston

11 May 1995

Dear Max,

As I left my very, very last class, someone said to me, “Oh, Kate, you’re so honest!”

“Honest? That means fat.”

“No,” said Melissa, “Good Personality means fat.”

I had forgotten that the last class was a potluck. There was a beautiful spread and everyone had contributed but me. I had an already-opened bag of pretzels and half-bag of candy in my backpack, so I took them out and then saw how nice everything looked and furtively stuffed them back in my bag.

Someone read this wonderful story about a guy who’s losing his girlfriend. The guy’s a mechanic, and people kept remarking on how his intelligence was so believable even though he was obviously uneducated and what they were calling unsophisticated. I was lying on the floor drinking wine and pretending I was someone else somewhere else, but finally I said, “Come on you guys! Is it so remarkable that this guy’s intelligent even though he hasn’t been to college? Let’s face it, most school makes you dumber.”

There was a short silence and then Jason said, “C’mon, Kate, tell us what you really think.” Laughter all around, including me.

Someone else said, “If that’s true then Elmaz must be the dumbest one here. She has a PhD.” More laughter, and I did not say, “I rest my fucking case.” A few minutes later Elmaz used the word ‘simple’ to describe the character, and I sat up again and glared at her. “Not in a bad sense!”