How Can Someone With a High IQ Be So Freakin’ DENSE?


There are few things more maddening than observing a highly intelligent person demonstrating absolutely zero common sense or sensitivity. There’s just no excuse. With so many brain cells to spare a few of them should be firing to signal:

Warning, WARNING…you are acting stonecold crass, callous, obtuse, cretin-esque!!” (I could have used more profane, colorful descriptors but my mother raised me to be a lady).

To whom am I ascribing the bold-faced Jane Austen-esque adjectives? A colleague who was one of the few I mustered the courage to haltingly acknowledge my infertile state to — on the heels of her lengthy recital of secondary infertility. Not only did I not get all hissy-fit-like and debate her about the heartache of primary vs. secondary infertility I even introduced her to the acupuncturist who had helped me achieve great follicular and endometrial response, but sadly nothing more.

She succeeded where I didn’t. While that took grace and composure to accept, I didn’t anticipate the sucker punch she inflicted in her joyful disregard, her “aren’t you excited for me?” reveal of her pregnant state — completely overlooking how that news even in the best of circumstances might adversely affect me. Cutting her still more slack I attributed her self-absorbed announcement to the temporarily overpowering release of hormones.

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Did it ever occur to her that I might still have some lasting personal pain in the wake of my failure? Hell, no!  That would require engaging the heart — something she’s proven time and again that she clearly lacks.

Such a contrast to the very pregnant woman who lives Monday-Friday directly across from me in the office. This angel not only made a point of respectfully, gently disclosing her pregnancy to me weeks before anyone else knew as a courtesy … so I wouldn’t have to hear it second hand or wonder about her changing shape … she has gone out of her way ever since to be deferential and not try to engage me in small talk about her “magical pregnancy” experiences. Bless her….

Has that stopped others, though, from stopping right outside my door to engage in endless pregnancy riffs and “new parent” bonding to the point of making me positively ill? Hell no. (Don’t these people ever g.oogle me?! Clearly not.)

This evening as I attempted to finish up a project who shows up but obtuse Hi-IQ girl. She planted herself just outside my closed door talking obnoxiously loud (think “outdoor voice”) to Angel girl — who seemed intent on ending the conversation — about her favorite pregnancshoe_throwingy experiences and the must-have new mommy gear for no less than 20 minutes. Despite the tight seal around my glass door Hi-IQ girl’s voice had no trouble penetrating the glass, and torturing me in the process.

How close did I come to throwing my door open with a bang to ask if there wasn’t more room in the kitchen to carry on this mommy recital? THIS close. Seriously, my discipline and willpower are exemplary. Never was a woman more deserving of getting a book, shoe or wireless mouse thrown at her with the intent to do harm…

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Lucky for her I was able to control my Irish temper. What it comes down to is this. She’s not worth wiping my boots on. And I can’t help but find some satisfaction in knowing that Karma will catch up with her sometime soon. Sadly, I might not be there to see it happen.

So, given the tempting target, what would you have thrown ?


36 Responses

  1. luna

    January 13, 2009 7:21 am

    dense doesn’t even cut it. sounds like you had a wonderful monday.

    I’d have slammed my door a few times probably, then put on some headphones, and probably twittered about it as catharsis. ugh.

  2. OHN

    January 13, 2009 12:01 pm

    PJ, I applaud your exemplary self control. Some people just have never had, or will ever have that ever elusive clue. I have perfected “the stare” that speaks volumes to the dumb shits I encounter. They seem to get that something they are doing is bothersome but still seem bewildered and witless.

    Sadly, some people just don’t care who they hurt or offend. If it is any consolation, imagine to what extent she drives her relatives crazy.

    I hope for your sake she decides to quit her job, stay home, and try to raise a child a bit less clueless than she is.

  3. sherylhs

    January 13, 2009 1:56 pm

    What would I have thrown? How about a big, fat, HEAVY dictionary with a bookmark to the page containing the entry “sensitivity”. If this particular tome also has an entry for ‘thoughtless, stupid bitch’, maybe you could bookmark and highlight that one, too. A friend of mine who is soooo happy to be childless (good for her) can’t stop going around the office telling everyone (including me) over and over again about how her best friend just had a baby — along with all the particulars. I don’t blame her for being excited or for sharing the news. But damn it, why do you have to CONTINUALLY do it standing right in front of my desk?? Do I have a ‘please do stop by and torture me with tales of pregnancies and babies’ sign on my desk???

    The worst part is that she and I have talked so often about how hurtful this kind of behavior is to me — and here she is doing it. Another thing I should do (and so should you) is perhaps to talk loudly and proudly about your upcoming vacations, your wonderful quiet times at home with the hubby sipping wine, and about how you just went shopping and how everything just fits so perfect — all of that stuff. After all, isn’t that poetic justice??

  4. Jess

    January 13, 2009 1:59 pm

    You should be granted sainthood! I ‘love’ when someone who is completely insensitive forces the person who is sensitive to discuss the insensitive topic.

    My BIL’s wife is pregnant, they quietly announced it to us before Christmas and all throughout she was very considerate: FIL and MIL didn’t get it, and would constantly announce to us how she’s having morning sickness, she doesn’t feel well etc etc. I wanted to smack them!

    *hugs* I personally would have lobbed the whole computer at her.

  5. Renee

    January 13, 2009 2:34 pm

    ah, i know this very well. i’ve blogged about my very own “insensitive girl” at work, too. self-absorbed and rude doesn’t even begin to describe her. you’re a strong woman, PJ. i’ve not been able to hold my tongue in a similar situation.

  6. Lauren

    January 13, 2009 2:47 pm

    What wouldn’t I have thrown? – That’s the better question! So sorry that you had to go through that (and most likely will again). I don’t understand such insensitive people. I have also encountered the insensitive, heartless pregnant “friend” many times. In this situation you truly showed that you are the bigger person – even though you wanted to flip out! 🙂 Thanks for sharing …

  7. JuliaKB

    January 13, 2009 4:26 pm

    Not a fit, exactly, but a schooling, perhaps? “You know, HIQ, I have it on good authority that tact is an essential parenting characteristic. Otherwise there might come a time when your miracle baby will be embarrassed to stand next to you, no matter how many fancy bouncers you got for her when she was a baby or how many wonderful mommy baby yoga moments you shared. Really…”
    And then walk away as she tries to find her jaw on the floor. Maybe with a promise to the Angel girl to let her know all your favorite high end sales spots when she is in the market for new wardrobe.
    Me=pissed off.

  8. Christina

    January 13, 2009 4:41 pm

    Ugh! My last on-site job was in a wonderful woman-friendly company, and I worked in a large department full of women of childbearing age — which in this case, stretched past 45. Most of the pregnant women were fairly self-contained — it was a very corporate company. But being a parent almost seemed mandatory for working there.
    What really bothered me was how excluded I felt by the kid talk that preceded every meeting, large or small. There was just no way I could participate socially. AND I was bored to death, it almost me nostalgic for the days when I was the only girl in the office, and my biggest daily stress was fending off the sexual advances of the guys …

  9. loribeth

    January 13, 2009 5:25 pm

    I would throw the book at her. Your book, to be precise. ; ) Or maybe Mel’s. Or both.

    You kind of expect people who have been through IF themselves to be a little more clued in than the masses. Sadly (as I have also learned myself), that is not always the case. 🙁

  10. Adrienne

    January 13, 2009 5:51 pm

    A GIANT magnifying glass so that maybe she could find a CLUE! I admire you for your self control. . .

  11. Deathstar

    January 13, 2009 6:07 pm

    I would have thrown my FOOT UP HER ASS! Yes, please do talk about how you saw this really gross woman who had all this unsightly flab/stretch marks hanging over her middle after she had a kid. Or perhaps some weight loss after baby tips in her email. As her how her cha cha is after delivery – does it really get loose or did it snap back? But that would be petty and mean you didn’t hear it from me, okay?

    I agree with Sherylh, enjoy telling your romantic stories about sleeping in with hubby with so much TIME to enjoy.

  12. Zee

    January 13, 2009 6:09 pm

    UGH! Since I’m now known to be something of a loose cannon when it comes to the Momtastic Brag-o-Rama sessions in my office (Jess The Urban Legend and her officemate are two major perpetrators), I’d definitely have put my head out the door with a choice comment or two. If I was feeling charitable, it might be sometime general, said in a light tone but with a meaningful look, like: “Uh, can you keep it down out here? It’s hard to concentrate with all the yapping.” If I was feeling ornery, I might put my head out, give a head-shaking flabbergasted look (a la Lewis Black) and then slam the door, or I might say something like, “Uh, ladies? There are bitter barren folk trying to work in here. Do you mind?”

    Okay, so I’m a nasty bitch. But I’ve gotten to the point where I just don’t care. Why should I be the only one offened? Let them be offended too. Right?

  13. Heather

    January 13, 2009 6:10 pm

    My only issue is that there isn’t a place on the poll to vote for “Fucking LOVED it!”

    I’m an obese woman, so a nice hip “bump” from me would send her sailing. Although, I would have to wait until after she delivers her spawn…

    Maybe just wishing bad things on her like: no sleep for peeing ever 15 minutes, heartburn that doesn’t end, swollen ankles, back ache, endless morning sickness, acne, and greasy hair – and anything else you can think of. OH, maybe walking around with something stuck in her teeth all day without knowing it.

  14. Michelle Carter

    January 13, 2009 6:15 pm

    This story describes my ultimate torment – people who should know better, but hurt you anyway.

    I can dismiss the ignorant comments made by people who ‘haven’t been there’, but someone who has lived through infertility stabbing you in the back with their unthoughtfulness and (apparently) short memory? That I cannot tolerate.

    I am so sorry you had to deal with all that.

  15. Iota

    January 13, 2009 6:23 pm

    IQ and sensitivity seem to have little in common in her case (and perhaps generally?)

    I’ve done worse, but at least I had the wit to realise after the event, and apologise to the two (yes, two) infertile friends who I’d wittered on to about … oh you can imagine.

    Don’t wish her bad karma, though. You know you’d feel awful if it happened. You really are a step above that – I’ve read your blog long enough to know.

  16. Travelher

    January 13, 2009 7:59 pm

    I just found your website today. Thank you for creating this. I am 39 and entering my second round of IVF. There is a time when I have to say no more and I think that time is coming up pretty fast. I wish I could throw something at every woman who stops by my desk and talks about pregnancy…like my boss!

  17. Kami

    January 13, 2009 8:58 pm

    It is the worst when someone who should have some kind of idea what you are dealing with behaves so horribly. I haven’t blogged about a similar experience because she might read my blog, but I had a fellow infertile (primary, right to DE, successful the first time) end a friendship without telling me because I confessed I didn’t like being around other people’s babies – that it hurt too much after losing Ernest. When I finally confronted her as to why I wasn’t hearing from her she told me “all babies are miracles” and didn’t like my energy.

    Sorry. I didn’t mean for this to be about me, but it feels good to tell someone.

    I’m sorry you had to deal with that lady. I hope I never forget what it feels like and will always be sensitive. You are a trooper.

    • sherylhs

      January 14, 2009 12:20 pm

      That is truly awful. This person is completely and utterly insensitive. Maybe you’re better off without such a ‘friend’. I am so sorry she was such an unbelievable shmuck.

  18. Rachel

    January 13, 2009 9:34 pm

    As the years have gone by, I grow increasingly underwhelmed with my fellow human beings. Call me old-fashioned, but it just seems that sensitivity was more valued that it is today. It’s like our reality TV, tell-all society treasures the me-me-me so much more than the other person. Seems to be even worse in our world… you’re so right though, she ain’t worth your shoe, book or mouse. Deep breaths.

  19. Alacrity

    January 13, 2009 10:11 pm

    “So, given the tempting target, what would you have thrown ?”

    That is easy…a roll of duct tape.

    Enduring the emotionally unintelligent pregnant co-worker, not so easy.

  20. monica lemoine

    January 14, 2009 1:35 am

    I am sorry, Pamela. That really, really sucks balls. I would have flicked a booger in her direction.

  21. Infertility Warrior

    January 14, 2009 4:53 am

    I just had a conversation with a secondary infertile and I find it so weird that most “secondary” infertiles I have spoken to are emphatic that secondary is worse than primary. I don’t like to judge, but really??? The other thing I find with former infertiles is an infertile amnesia after they have a baby – has anyone else noticed this too?

    • Zee

      January 14, 2009 5:04 pm

      Yes I have. And it makes me INSANE! On more than one occasion, as a “SIF” has banged on about how much worse it is for her, what I’ve said is: “You know, you’re totally right. The worst must be when you lie awake at night wondering if you’ll ever, ever, ever be a mother. That sucks, doesn’t it?” So far I’ve gotten two snotty looks and one sheepish, “Oh, wow, I must really sound like an asshole, considering my audience” look. However, to be fair, two different women dealing with secondary IF, to whom I will be eternally grateful, acknowledged unprompted that they were in vastly different and less dire situations than I am. And that, as desperately painful as secondary IF is, it is TOTALLY different to want another child as opposed to having none at all. There ARE some who are sensitive and clued in. Not all, but some.

  22. Phoebe

    January 14, 2009 4:59 am

    Sad, but true. Some people are such narcissists that they have no ability to detect other’s pain. All they care about is themselves first. I’m sorry you had to find out the hard way. Been there, done that, not gonna give that person any of the attention they so pathetically need.

  23. MLO

    January 14, 2009 5:29 am

    I’m of the firm opinion that the majority of humanity is just plain mean. They may or may not mean to be, but they are.

    It sucks. But, having studied both history and psychology, I have not found overwhelming evidence to the contrary. It makes the gems of good people all the more remarkable.

  24. myrtle

    January 14, 2009 4:04 pm

    I find that I am withdrawing from others who have kids because that’s such an important moment in their lives and I can’t share their enthusiasm at the moment. It is not because I am jealous of them. In fact, I tend to enjoy babies when they are around because as many people know, it is not that we envy their kids; it is that we are missing our own.

    I find that it is better to keep people guessing about why I don’t have kids b/c my friendships haven’t improved as a result of telling people. They can’t handle it and it takes away the pleasure of meeting with someone and pretending that life is just taking its normal course.

    We need strategies to keep the conversation on topics other than children because once on that direction, the gusher/momzilla continues for an excruciatingly long time.

  25. Me

    January 14, 2009 5:47 pm

    What would I have thrown? Whatever was at hand!!!

    You probably won’t be surprised to learn that several of the most insensitive fertiles I’ve come across are also highly intelligent. Ironic, yes?

  26. honeymoon

    January 14, 2009 7:41 pm

    dear Pamela & dear all writing the comments,
    I am so happy to have found this blog! Thank you for sharing your feelings with me.
    Whenever I come from work so sad (I work with plenty of mummies in their 30 and they have high IQ and no emotional Q at all) it is comforting to read your posts.

  27. PamWordgirl

    January 15, 2009 8:15 pm

    I’ve found that plates sail nicely in the air — like heavy, shattering frisbees — such fun!

    I had to delurk to say “UGGGH” I have one of these in my life too…an old oblivious friend…oh, and then of course my brother…hmnnn yes…insensitivity abounds…

    Oh yuck. I’m still mad for you.


  28. Elize

    January 26, 2009 6:22 am

    I just stumbled upon your blog. Will definitely add it to my blog roll. I would have wanted to throw my stapler at her, or even my paper punch! It’s very strange how those people we expect to be understanding and be sensitive, who we’ve been there to support them can turn around and kick you in the groin. Bless the angel who has been so sensitive towards you, people like that makes this world a better place to be.

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