Brain teasers


In the fourth grade you take a standardized test to find out if you’re “gifted.” I’ve long suspected this terminology has little to do with actual intelligence; I actually think it’s a way to separate the kids who can play sports from the kids who are obsessed with brain teasers, both being annoying clusters of people that need to be un-joined if only to preserve the sanity of the salaried adults that tend to them in the daylight hours.

A brain teaser is a difficult question or puzzle whose resolution which does not improve the world. One of my favorite kinds is the “get these two objects apart.” Because of the physical nature of the puzzle, these test not only your spatial reasoning, but your patience too. After a few unsuccessful minutes with the interlocked metal, you are almost goaded into using brute force —which you lack of course because you are a puny nerd. When you find that proper angle or method, it’s very fulfilling. Like the sword-in-the-stone. Like destiny. For geeks.

These brainy baubles now serve as zipper-pulls on my laptop sleeve. Huzzah to the Once and Future King!