31 Comments

  1. The cashier is trying to encourage the pinheaded customer to purchase some “smart drugs” to enhance his intelligence.

  2. I take it as “Haven’t you ever wondered what it would be like to be smart”. And it’s supposed to be amusing in the bluntness of the insult.

    I could be wrong but I think that’s it.

  3. I have indeed wondered, at times. I was going to quip that I’m too smart to fall for that but apparently, these “cognition enhancers” really do work sometimes, for some people.

  4. Exactly one smart drug has been shown to do anything, and it’s a major ingredient in most of the ones sold by that name.

    It’s caffeine.

  5. I think that part the joke lies in the phrasing used. It is similar to what a pusher might say to you if they were encouraging you to use ‘drugs’ for the first time. (Although not a ‘pusher’, a friend of mine got his hands on some acid once and that’s pretty much what he said when trying to convince me to join him.)

    Instead of pushing a trip though, this drug would result in you getting smarter…that’s the other part of the joke, the not-so-veiled insult.

  6. “Smart” is an interesting word, applied these days to non-sentient things like phones and cars, which “think” or discriminate, but do not reason. There are shades that don’t always align: intelligent, wise, clever, common sense, street smarts, EI. In college, the most intimidatingly intelligent person I knew was befuddled by the automated doors at Wegmans, trying to enter the exit door with no success.

  7. Thanks for that, Catlover. I was also thinking it might be a play off one of those additional senses you bring out. And I think drug researchers do sometimes talk in terms of treatment strategies that operate in customized or genetic-tailored ways as “smart” medicines. (As well as the direct sense of “cognitive enhancers” that Boise Ed mentions.)

    But in the end, it seems to be just the bold insult w00zy discusses.

    Isn’t there a semi-famous cartoon panel on the theme Catlover’s friend embodies? A school entrance witrh “Gifted Students”signage, and a hapless youth pulling on a “Push”-labelled door, or something like that?

  8. @Mitch4 – Gary Larson’s Midvale School for the Gifted, discussed here: https://sidespin.kinja.com/the-greatest-far-side-single-panel-comic-in-history-1793004340

    ““Midvale School for the Gifted” is the greatest comic in the rich and deep catalog of The Far Side. The kid is a genius when it’s used as an ironic moniker. The kid is distracted perhaps. The kid is having a rough morning. The kid is us. He is all of us. We are all students at the Midvale School for the Gifted, at least occasionally. The brilliance of this panel is in its ability to resonate on a personal level. We’ve all muttered “genius” or “idiot” to to ourselves when we do something stupid.”

  9. This guy is at least looking. There are the dreaded “NC squareds” who have No Clue that they have No Clue. And they’re experts! You might like this synopsis of “Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties in Recognizing One’s Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-Assessments,”

  10. I was thinking along the lines of a smart device as well. But the insult interpretation makes more sense. The guy’s brain is smaller than one of the drug containers. Oh wait that’s just the usual hugely disproportionate body parts that are always present in this strip.

  11. Berber — Thanks for linking to that 2005 retrospective on Dunning-Kruger. This is one of those things I had not seen named or noticed, until a few weeks ago and now it pops up everywhere.

    I’m guessing the reviewer must be the same Marc Abrahams associated with the Journal of Irreproducible Results and the Ig Nobel Prize awards!

  12. An ancient (pre-unification) German anecdote on the subject of “smart drugs” has two passengers in a train compartment, one of whom is chewing on apple seeds(*). The second man asks why, and when he is told that they increase a person’s IQ by 20 or 30 points, he immediately asks if he can have some. The first man says that they cost 1 D-Mark apiece. The second man pays 10 marks, and gets ten seeds, which he immediately starts chewing. After about five minutes, he says, “Wait a minute. I could have bought several pounds of apples for ten Marks, and then I would have had a lot more than just ten seeds!

    The first man replies, “You see? They’ve already begun to work!

    P.S. (*) – Given all the medical fairy tales that have been floating around lately, I should add that this unscientific tale ignores the fact that apple seeds contain a very small amount of cyanide. Eating one (or a few) of them is unlikely to do anything, but scarfing down a bunch of them is definitely a bad idea.

  13. I suspect Baldwin didn’t realize “smart drugs” ACTUALLY ARE designed to make you smarter (or a facsimile thereof)

  14. I guess it’s not correct, but I first took it as a poignant moment between 2 “like-minded” people. I felt it being similar to, “Haven’t you ever wondered what it would be like to be rich? Having lunch on the boat.. dancing on the veranda..

  15. Reminds me of the old vaudeville joke.
    An athlete is rubbing liniment on his leg.
    Athlete: “Hey coach, this liniment is making my leg smart.”
    Coach: “Try rubbing it on your head.”

  16. Is this the same athlete who apologized to a co-ed who wanted to dance with him by saying “Sorry but no, I’m a little stiff from lacrosse” only to get the answer “Well, I think you’re very nice and I don’t care where in Wisconsin you come from”?

  17. I read this as coming late in a conversation, during which the man said he didn’t want to be smart. (In Mortimer Snerd voice): “Thankee Ma’am, but I don’t want to get smart. Nope. None of that city slicker smart for me. Just the fizzy stuff for when you eat the whole cake before it’s cooked.” So she changes her pitch to curiosity.

  18. Shrug, that’s probably derived from a Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In gag that I still remember and laugh at, after more than 50 years. Ruth Buzzi approached Henry Gibson and asked “Do you wanna dance?” and he replied “No thank you, I’m a little stiff from bowling.” And she, of course, replied Ï don’t care where you’re from. Let’s dance!”

  19. Thanks for linking to that 2005 retrospective on Dunning-Kruger. This is one of those things I had not seen named or noticed, until a few weeks ago and now it pops up everywhere.

    So, you’re experiencing Baader-Meinhof about Dunning-Kruger?

  20. I saw the sign as the name of the pharmacy. Presumed the customer asked for some “smart drugs” either to be funny or because he was that stupid. Counter woman either is tried of hearing the joke or is tired of explaining that it is the name of the pharmacy and not the description of the meds on the shelf.

    Then again – my brain often messes up what makes sense to others – and Robert has to “translate” for me.

  21. Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In […] Ruth Buzzi […] Henry Gibson

    At first when he showed up I was truly puzzled why they had chosen to have him introduce himself as Henrik Ibsen , and then not make any further allusions to the playwright.

  22. @Powers – long gone, much smaller, ancient Weggies near Strong Hospital. FWIW, the nearby Lac De Ville Tops still has separate entrance and exit doors.

  23. @Catlover: it’s long gone?! 😢
    (Nice to know the Wegmans you were referring to is exactly the one I pictured… say, what year were you? Meliora! ’90 undergrad)

  24. My wife went to college there, so I know the Wegmans you’re referring to. This was a dozen years before you were there, apparently, so I don’t know what Wegmans was like in your time. In the 70s, it was a dump. When, decades later, Wegmans starting opening huge, high-end supermarkets in New Jersey, I checked to make sure it was actually the same chain, because I couldn’t reconcile the two.

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