“Wonder” Years later

by genspecial

Fred Savage and Danica McKellar

Kevin and Winnie

Our blog is often filled with melancholia and ruefulness, as we struggle with the Special condition.  We thought it high time to highlight a fascinating story of hope and resilience.  I’m of course referring to Danica McKellar, the one-time star of “The Wonder Years” and current author of young adult education books such as “Hot X: Algebra Exposed” and “Kiss my Math!”

Danica, like us, had all the makings of a special childhood, and then some.  She was successful, celebrated and marveled at–all before the age of 12.  She was beloved by “Wonder” watches, cute and a little odd looking, with big thick-lashed eyes.  Your humble editor, it may as well be said, had a big crush on Winnie.  (It makes him feel only a little icky to find her pictures in “Maxim” and “Stuff,” but we can’t deny a certain fascination with our kid crush all grown up–really grown up!)  But this is not a post about the hotness or swan-like trajectory of Danica–at least not entirely.

This instead is an appreciation of how Danica somehow warded off the Speicalness trap that can afflict so many successful children.  If she had just turned out normal, not terrified of failure and never living up to her childhood self, it would have been enough for us (Daiyenu).  If she had only written her sassy math-is-fun books, and not gone on to be a cheeky blogger, Daiyenu.  But Danica now writes this blog, has a Yoga and Meditation video, has a little baby, and, to our great amusement, is putting out killer palindrome puzzles! Is there no end to her productivity?

Palindrome puzzles are where clues are given to figure out a palindrome, or a phrase spelled the same forwards and backwards, ie. “Madam I’m Adam.”  Special People both love and hate these types of puzzles.  We love them because if we solve them, we feel smart and special.  If we don’t, however, we loathe ourselves and fear that we’re losing any ability we once had to feel smart and special.  Put that aside as you look at the following.  Your editor fully admits that he solved pretty much none of these, but still enjoyed enormously.

Some of these may be ones Danica collected.  Others are clearly ones she devised herself–which is not easy!  We found this out the hard way when we tried to do some with a student, sat in silence for ten awkward minutes, and finally together came up with one palindrome: “Bob stops, spots Bob.”  For answers to below, you can go here.   And don’t stress!  Danica doesn’t, and she has every right to suffer from Specialness!

Cool one to warm up with:
Clue: “What did the mathematician say when she was offered cake?”  Hint to start you off: “I prefer ____”

Now see if you can get any of these!
Clue: “We’re out of citrus and cantaloupe.”  ____________________
Clue: “Possible headline if Marilyn Monroe encountered some rodents.”  ____________________
Clue:” Nickname for physician who is uncomfortable talking to his patients.” __________________
Clue: “Possible headline I [Danica!] were in a commercial for vitamin b3.”  ____________________