Tuesday, July 1, 2008

The Strange Career of Alphie Dunderson, Child Genius

How will future generations remember Alphie Dunderson? Or, put more simply, will his preternatural ability to solve a rubik's cube using only disposable chopsticks be overshadowed by his penchant for wearing pleated chinos with Harley Davidson t-shirts? Like many boy geniuses, Alphie's tremendous gifts manifested themselves at an early age. His first grade teacher credits him with proving (definitively) that, regardless of whether one selects the "whites" or "colors" cycle, a pair of jeans will take at least 50 minutes to dry on high heat. An avid reader of comics, Alphie was said to have predicted not only the death and resurrection of Superman, but also, prior to the replacement of Bryan Singer with Brett Ratner, that X-Men 3 would suck.

Yet Alphie was also the consummate renaissance man. It has been said that genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. Etymologists now believe that aphorism was coined after someone saw Alphie walking across a parking lot and up half a flight of stairs. At age 14, Alphie was spotted at a New York Knicks game, in which dazzled onlookers remained transfixed as he singlehandedly discovered why italicized letters must be used during Fourier transformations. The next day he was offered a job as the Knick's starting power forward. His parents were said to have compared his early fingerpaintings to classic de Kooning and it has been speculated that, had he not suffered a traumatic cheek injury while eating a bowl of undercooked rice, Alphie could have been a successful tackling dummy for a Conference USA football team. His skill with the song flute, while perhaps less developed than his other talents, was nonetheless preferable to Duran Duran.

Alas, it seems inevitable that genius goes unrecognized it its own time. Such was the case with Alphie, who spent most of his productive years toiling in cafes, manning the register at various retail stores, and working part-time for English expatriates in the US, who paid him to sit in the back seat and yelp every time they drifted over to the left lane or tried to signal a turn with the windshield wipers. Though his interactional style has been alternately described as "vile," "surly," and "mephitic," future generations will no doubt regret their inability to recognize such a true magus in their midst - if nothing else, we can hope that his legacy will once again make it possible for one to wear chinos when the general consensus is that dark socks and slacks are more appropriate.