Friday, November 16, 2012

High IQ Anxiety

Everyone from Medical News Today to the Calgary Herald are filing reports on the latest news for pregnant women. Even moderate drinking can lower a child's IQ by two points. That may not seem like a lot ... but tell that to an eight-year-old trying to get out of a PS3 glitch.

This after much recent information about the fact that moderate drinking has been found to be safe for pregnant women - mostly notably by several studies out of Denmark. (This is where they leave their strollers on the street btw and nobody steals either carriage or kid! Saw that on the Oprah show, God rest its soul.) 

There's so much information on this new IQ study that I can't even find the research that backs up moderate drinking is 'okay' for pregnant women. But I've had to look it up - because the majority of women I know actually do drink moderately during pregnancy - and some of them are even proud of it. Only two women I know completely abstained - and one of them had a head start because she was already in A.A.

Now, of course, these are people I know, and I'm Ms. Functional, so keep that in mind. 

It sort of freaks me out. I've got baby pictures of all the women around us drinking while pregnant. Cigarettes in one hand. Lowballs in the other. Tom Jones on the turntable. Thighs bare under miniskirts. How many of us in older generations are suffering from lower IQs because our mothers didn't know it wasn't a good idea to get plastered while preggers? I mean, if we had this information before, maybe we could all be smart enough to get into Harvard - where the average IQ is 130. (The average human is 100.)

But that don't mean Harvard students don't know how to partaaaaay!! On our tour of New England we stopped in Cambridge - across the Charles River from Boston - to check out the hallowed halls of Harvard University. Founded in 1636, it's the oldest institute of higher education in the U.S. - and one of the most revered schools in the world. And what we learned is that although they don't seem to get as publicly 'schmacked' as kids at some universities, posting their parties on YouTube, they still know how to have a good time. 

We were there the Sunday before Columbus Day. Many of the streets were closed to traffic and there were bands playing everywhere. Set-up ones with stages and amplifiers ... and impromptu ones where students had dragged out the trumpets/drums/guitars/fiddles, etc. that their parents insisted they learn to play so they could be well-rounded and get into Harvard someday.

What a scene.  

The music was sort of New Orleans/Dixieland Jazz. Sometimes slow and mournful, sometimes raucous and rowdy. Everyone seemed to be in a trance, many of them in costumes that must mean something only to people with an IQ of 130. 

The hubs and I were hankering for some refreshments so we stopped in a cozy-looking bar/resto called The Red House - which was actually a big red brick house. We ordered a plank of oysters and I had - surprise! - vino bianco of some kind. The lights were low, the bar tables were high and the place was packed. It was still near the beginning of the school year so everything seemed new and fun and full of possibility. (But maybe at Harvard, that feeling doesn't end after the first term ...) 

The privilege, the pride and the plain old joy that these kids (and many professors!) exhibited was fascinating. There was a young couple by the window. She had serious long dark hair, half-pulled back in a barette (the smart girl's fancy 'do). The young man was a pale skinny lad. They hung on each other's words, drinking beer, leaning slightly across the table toward each other. They didn't even look away from each other's eyes. 

Outside on the street the music stopped and started ... and when it stopped, the people would just rock slowly to a melancholic silence ... when it started again, they cheered and sang along. I have a friend whose hubby went to Harvard but we haven't been able to decipher what the celebration was. Possibly just being at Harvard ... 

(That's kind of a lame picture. But the camera was screwing up ... Just imagine a timeless scene of freedom and excess!)

It was nothing like the first weeks of school at Ryerson University (or Rye High as it's affectionately known) where I stumbled around in my youth. Every year, Ryerson has a sort of frosh-week parade through the streets of Toronto. I remember being on our float (really just a flatbed truck with a bunch of drunk kids on it) and looking up at the windows of all the office towers and seeing the business people looking down at us. Ha ha, I though, suckahs!! (I was one of those suckahs a few years later looking down at the parade ... sigh.) 

Anyway, all the students took ferries to Toronto Island for the annual Island Picnic. I got sooooo wasted. Oh. My. God. I was much much too crazy back then. At one point I remember being in a garbage can and having to knock it over and roll it around to get out of it. There wasn't a lot of garbage in it, but still. I have no idea how I got into a garbage can ... Bet that doesn't happen to Harvard girls ... 

Eliot House Clock Tower at Harvard ... 

How To Get Schmacked At University  Virginia, anyway.
Harvard 101
Moderate Drinking Unsafe for Pregnant Women - Calgary Herald
Ryerson Picnic. Now called Week of Welcome!
The Red House  in Cambridge. Cozy and cool.
Harvard IQ Article from The Harvard Gazette