One night when I was 14 years old, I was on the phone with my friend Kathy talking about... what else? Boys! Kathy and I spent about two hours on the phone discussing every boy we knew and how incredibly... smart he was.
The conversation went kind of like this:
Kathy: "Oh my god, Rob is SO SMART. Do you know what he got on the last math team competition? He got a perfect score."
Me: "Oh, wow. But you know, John has the highest overall score on all the competitions."
Kathy: "So who do you think is better in math? Rob or John?"
Me: "I don't know. I mean, they're both really, really good. I don't know who I'd pick."
I'm not even kidding. I probably wouldn't have even thought of it or be retelling this story years later, except that my mother was in the room with me, and later declared it "the funniest thing" she'd ever heard. Because we were gushing about boys, except instead of talking about how hot they were, we were talking about how good they were in math.
Realistically, I could never have dated a guy who wasn't really smart. I had crushes on guys who were not the brightest, but ultimately it couldn't have gone any further than that. Intelligence was just that important to me. I've never dated a guy who got less than 800 in math on the SAT's. (Sorry, but my definition of smart is being good at math and science. You may disagree, but a brilliant fiction writer just won't do it for me.)
Yes, things like looks and sense of humor and compatibility are also important. But nothing is more attractive to me than intelligence.
Fast forward to today.
I've been noticing that when I do research for one of my journal articles, I often come across a few names of men who did the a large chunk of the scientific research in that field. Some guy's name will come up over and over again, and clearly he's a big authority in the field. And as I'm reading and outlining these articles, I can't help but having the very odd thought, "Gee, I wonder if he's hot..."
(Answer: Probably not.)