Could he possibly be outwitted by his smartphone. No, we hear you cry!
Until a few years ago, I was considered the smartest man in our locality. There were others older and wiser, but if you needed someone to consult regarding income tax or the best movie in town or the ideal match for your daughter, or indeed to write two successive sentences without a grammatical error, then I was your man. My wife is much smarter, but she is too smart to let on, and is thus left alone to work.
But gradually my sphere of influence began to shrink. Someone moved in who had been with the UN, and soon I was barely the smartest man in my own street.
But there was one title I held on to – the smartest man in my family. Soon that was eroded too. My son was doing a PhD in an esoteric field (well, philosophy, actually), and somehow that seemed to count for more than my greying hair and winning smile.
When former Australian cricket captain SteveWaugh sledged an English player, pointing out that he had no business playing Test cricket because he was the worst batsman in the country, the Englishman responded, “But at least (unlike you) I am the best batsman in my own family” – a reference to Steve’s batsman brother Mark.
And then, as I said, my son took over. All was well until recently when all of us came face to face with the smartphone – by some distance the smartest in the locality, on the street, and sad to say, in the family.
My son could still quote Plato and Kant, and on a cricket field I could still identify an outswinger, but the smartphone could give you the complete unabridged works of Plato and Kant (and a few hundred others) as well as decide whether or not the outswinger had taken the edge of the bat in a tight situation.
It could, if you pushed the right buttons, find a match for the son of a friend down the street, work out his tax returns, play a rock album in full, as well as book airline tickets and write a short novel all on the same day. Talk about multitasking! A later generation phone smart enough to handle an earlier one might even work out how to put a man, or at least a phone, on the moon.
The smartphone is the new champion on the street. So how does it feel to be ex-champion, you ask? Well, I’ll have to check with my phone first.