• Good luck, Alicia—You’ll Need It

    • Posted on Sep 26, 1980

    Note:  ALICIA WITT, now 33, graduated from high school when she was 14, and has acted in some 55 films and TV series.  Wish I had predicted that too--but I at least noticed that she was destined for an unusual life.  That has certainly happened.  (11-16-2012)  


    Everyone knows some ante-raiser.

    You know, the secretary who cheerfully types twice as much, twice as fast as anyone in the office and makes good coffee besides? Or the athlete who breaks all the records, then says, “Ah, it wasn’t nothing,” and means it. Or the movie star who plays Shakespeare well.

    These super-secretaries, jocks, and stars inevitably make their colleagues feel inadequate. In general, they have fewer friends than most and find that though they might be respected and admired, they’re not liked because they up the ante, so to speak.

    Then there's little Alicia Witt. Alicia, you may have read, raises everybody enough so we all have to pay more. A lot more.

    You think you have a smart kid because he-she babbled “Muh-muh” at seven months? Alicia was “deciphering diaper boxes and world maps” at seven months.

                Are you proud of your 2-year-old because he-she remembered Uncle Wylie’s name? At 2, Alicia said to Robert, her father, as he came home, “Is thy name Robert a fair name? I’ll have no father if you be not him.” Shakespeare; she’d read it that day.

    Your five year old knows the alphabet? Little Alicia, now just 5, writes stories more than 20 pages long. She knew the alphabet, both phonetically and the letters, when she was 16 months.

    When Alicia was just under 3, a psychologist reported that she was intellectually at least 12. As her mother says, “A month for Alicia is like a couple of years for other children.”

    In a word, Alicia is a freak, or at least that’s how she’s going to be treated. For if people have trouble with super secretaries, what will they do with a super-everything like Alicia? Her teachers will slow her down, her friends will bore her, her parents won’t know what to do with her.

    And the rest of us will be reminded, because of her very existence, that our ideas about human intelligence have been too narrow. That’s hard to deal with because our own intelligence seems so much more limited than Alicia’s.

    Consider what may happen to Alicia:

    -       She could marry, have kids, grow old happily and live a good life.

    -       She could join a carnival sideshow as “Memory Woman.”

    -       She could become the 51st president, though she’s probably too bright to try.

    -       She could write poetry, novels and plays, winning three Nobel Prizes for literature.

    -       She could write treatises on theoretical physics, winning a Nobel Prize for same.

    -       She could become a career waitress at Barney’s Bar and Grille in her hometown of Worchester, Mass., becoming locally famous for her witty cracks about the food and customers.

    With a name like Alicia, she’s halfway there.

    -       She could join a nunnery to eventually become the first female Pope.

    -       She could become a revolutionary, turning against her parents and the system that turned her into such a freak.

    Given what I know of the world and Alicia, the answer to what she will become is simple: she’ll do all of the above, then die having lived a full and varied life.

     At 18.

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