Friday, May 27, 2011

Day 16-22 Road Trip '11: Jacksonville, NC

North Carolina was planned from the start as well. I knew that I would be seeing my brother Ben Gripp and his family this summer before I knew I was taking this trip. Although I usually don't write about people I know in a public forum like this, I'm pretty sure he wouldn't mind. I've been wrong before though.

When I first met Ben, I couldn't stand him. He was a jerk to everyone, and he was smart enough to get away with it. By smart I mean exactly that: he was and is very intelligent. From my perspective, he treated people like they were beneath him because they weren't as intelligent. Which they weren't. As intelligent, that is.

If memory serves, we met in a physics class with Mrs. K during my senior year. The hand of fate sat us next to each other, and we quickly found that we were both in the same intellectual league. I think that (partially) because of this, he didn't treat me the same way that I observed him treating others. Naturally, this was agreeable to me, and I seemed to forget about whatever biases I had previously held against him. And so, we quickly became a pair of philosophizing hooligans.

Whereas Ben crushed and rejected those of a lesser intellect, I more pitied and accepted them. Whereas he saw them as a drain and a waste, I saw them as unfulfilled potential. However different our approach, we both held this disdain for mediocrity and stupidity. Think Dumbledore and Grindewald. Or Magneto and Xavier, even. I can still see us, in my mind's eye, sitting apart from the rest of the class: as far to the edge of the body of the class and close to the door as possible, as if we would be infected by the class' aura if we were to surround ourselves by it.

And to be fair, we might have been, had we. Surrounded ourselves by them, that is. Public schools are the great equalizers, in more than one way, not all of them good.

But we didn't. No, in our obvious superiority, we began envisioning a world run right for a change. In this world, people would be given Rocket Points for acts of stupidity, lack of commons sense, gross offenses against humanity, and anything else we didn't like. Only a handful of people could give out Rocket Points, for once a person had accrued a certain number of points, they would be given the opportunity of a lifetime: to fly on a rocket to the sun! They would be so excited to take a trip on the Rocket, too, because that's the kind of people they were.

There was also the Grippettigan scale. Our dynamic duo became a Triumverate with the addition of Dave Nelligan, the other intellectual of our time in 618. I could write a whole other post about Dave and his interactions with us, but suffice to say that the three of us put our heads together and birthed the scale of scales, one that would definitively quantify a person's value to the new regime and to humanity in general. There were three categories: Gripps, Nelligans, and Petitts.

The Petitt scale was the simplest and easiest to measure: it was a simple ten-point scale that measured or described one's attractiveness. And to answer the first question that comes to your mind: yes, you can score higher than a ten on the Petitt scale - either an 11 or a 20. No one ever bothers with 12 to 19 anyway. Usually, an 11 was given to someone that you actually knew or had seen with your own eyes, while a 20 was basically celebrity/supermodel type beauty. Like Natalie Portman *drool.* And to be fair to the ladies - and also to show no bias - your Twilight hearthrobs. Quasi over there is a 1.

Nelligans described one's intelligence and common sense. The score was computed by adding one's IQ score to their common sense score. The average IQ is 100, and there is no highest score. Theoretically someone could have an IQ of 1000. To weight common sense (because we felt that it was more important than being "bright" or booksmart) we made it worth double your IQ. The average common sense score was therefore around 200. . So the average person should have 300 Nelligans. What we considered really worthwhile people would be around 400 Nelligans. For perspective, Einstein had 800+ Nelligans if I remember right.

Finally, Gripps described your overall level of awesomeness; that "it" factor; the XFactor; coolness in general. It was on a 1-100 scale, with 100 being theoretically possible but practically unattainable. If someone had 100 Gripps, it was like they were so cool that you would melt from pure awesomeness Kung Fu Panda style. It's easier for fictional characters to rate higher, considering that they are not restrained by the shortcomings of real people. James Dean is one of the top scorers of real people with around 80 Gripps. Master Chief has around 92. Han Solo would be up there as well.

The math gets a bit tricky from here, but basically you run your three scores through this formula to come up with how many Grippetigans you have. Grippetigan scores could influence the number of rocket points you received for an infraction, if you received them at all, or if you could even give them. Although, the only person I remember authorized to give me, Dave, or Ben rocket points was of course Mrs. Evans, our high school math teacher.

Yes, with our handy scale and means for meting out justice, we planned to eliminate a significant portion of the gene pool responsible for the degradation of the human race. We had such high hopes...

And then Ben and I both graduated and went our separatepastime among those with higher vision - we were able to interact on a daily basis for some periods. You would be amazed at how well you can keep up a relationship by playing online games with them. I read an article once that said that to keep a relationship healthy you must talk or otherwise interact with each other for at least 30 solid mins a day. How many people can you say you do that with?

Well, to make a long story short, Ben joined the Marines, was baptized, and got married all in the same summer. Talk about a life changing summer. My epic trip across the country was life-changing, but his summer beats mine in that category, I think. Not long after, he was a father. I had yet to meet his son Eli until this visit.

And to turn one week into one paragraph: it was like we had never been apart. We laughed at how every time we see each other after a long period of physical separation that it's just like high school again. As if it's like, "Oh yeah I just saw you yesterday, what's up?" More than that, we act and talk like we've been regularly hanging out, which I guess we have been, online. Again, you would be surprised at how effective the online gaming world is at keeping relationships alive.

The week was full of epic events, such as tweaks to our plans for world domination and conversations that extended into the middle of the next morning. And for all the benefits of online interaction, there is no substitute for physical proximity.

We ended the week with a three-day long gaming spree full of mountains of dew and plain(s) of pizza with some pepperonis. A fitting last hurrah before the rigors of Infantry school.

*Disclaimer: I feel obliged to mention that Kevin King is now the third member of the Triumverate, and the scale has been modified to the Grippettiking scale. Measurements and descriptors still apply. Also, a telling of the tale of our friendship is forthcoming in its entirety and glory, inthewhich, Kevin, you shall receive your due diligence. In addition, a musical theater rendition of the Triumverate is in the works, as well. All in due time. Tartar sauce.

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