Poor Genius

Whatever you do, don’t judge Johnny. I met him on Tuesday. He’s about five-one, and two-hundred pounds of grease spots. It looks like he hasn’t had a bath since the fourth grade. He’s as country as hickory sticks, and poor as an old quilt.

To give you an idea of what I mean, Johnny’s dilapidated truck has seven-hundred forty-eight thousand miles on it. I didn’t believe him. He had to show me the odometer to prove it.

“It’s thanks to my son,” Johnny said. “He rebuilt this truck three times.” He yelled, “Ricky! Come out here, show Mister Sean this transmission!”

Ricky, a child with no shoes, who looked like he crawled out from beneath a fertilizer pile, popped the hood. He climbed halfway into the engine and said in a quiet voice, “Got this’n transmission from a Chevy two-thousand-one.”

His daddy beamed.

This isn’t the first transmission Ricky’s rebuilt. Using only junkyard parts, Ricky’s fixed over two hundred transmissions for cash, and reassembled one entire 454 Chevy engine. Ricky is not yet ten.

“Watch this.” His daddy winked. “Ricky, what year’s Mister Sean’s truck?”

Ricky twisted his mouth. “Oh-nine, a V-six.” He squinted at my back tire. “Reckon it’s a four-point-two, two-hundred horse.”

At age ten, I couldn’t pee standing up without making a mess.

“We knowed he was smart,” said Johhny. “He taught himself to read and count when he was two. A friend of mine has a scrapyard, Ricky started putting cars back together when he’s just a sapsucker.”

“I’ll bet Ricky’s about ready for Harvard,” I said.

“Nah,” said Johnny. “We live in the sticks, ’bout an hour to the nearest school. My kids’re just like me, they ain’t never been to school. I’ve been working since I was ’bout this tall. Never attended. Besides, Ricky’s already smarter than you and me. Shoot, he could build a rocket-ship .”

“I ain’t gonna build rockets,” Ricky said. “I’m gonna be a satellite dish installer, like you, daddy.”

Johnny flashed a smile that looked like a pouch full of Beechnut, then winked at his son.

It doesn’t matter what kind of genius you are. Every boy wants to be just like his daddy.

I warned you not to judge him.