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Section: relationships, mental-health

Dear Ann Landers,
I'm writing about your response to "Perplexed Grandmother," who said she drove for hours with her "brilliant" granddaughter and there was zero communication. Not a word was spoken. I have a brother who is also brilliant -- with a Ph.D. in applied mathematics. As a child, he solved complicated mathematical problems in his sleep, but he had zero communication skills and was considered "stuck up." As a grown man, he is still incapable of small talk, and his communication skills haven't improved. The "genius" is currently on his third wife and has very little to do with his siblings or parents. People seldom measure up to his expectations, so he writes them off. I have a different theory on why brilliant people often have trouble establishing and maintaining relationships. Maybe their heads are so crowded with information that there is no room to think about family and friends. -- Washington, D.C.

Dear D.C.,
Your theory that brilliant people are incapable of forging close relationships is flawed. Normal people can have this problem, too. Keep reading for more: From Lebanon, N.J.: Your advice to "Perplexed Grandmother," who could barely get a word out of her brilliant granddaughter on a three-hour car trip, missed the mark. My over-educated ex-husband was the same way. He has a Ph.D. in engineering from an Ivy League school and was a permanent fixture on the Dean's List. We would drive for hours, and all I would get was a grunt in response to any question or comment. Often, to get his attention, I would say, "Planet Earth calling Johnny. Come in for a landing." Tell Grandma not to be offended. Her "brilliant" granddaughter may be book smart, but she needs to brush up on her people skills if she wants to make it in this competitive world. Bowie, Md.: I disagree with your advice to "Perplexed Grandmother," who couldn't make conversation with her granddaughter. Could it be that the young woman felt her grandmother was bombarding her non-stop with intrusive and irritating questions? I know how she feels. A dear friend of mine says I'm a clam, while I consider a conversation with her to be a cross-examination. Add to the mix her tendency to pass on bits and pieces of our conversations, and you get the picture. St. Catharines, Ontario: I was interested in the letter about the grandmother who was critical of her granddaughter because she couldn't get a conversation going during a three-hour car ride. That problem started long ago. I know because I have the same situation with my granddaughter. I spoke to "Mary's" mother about this, and she said, "Don't feel bad. That's the way it is with all young people today." Is she right? P.S. I never baked cookies, but I did send checks -- several of them -- and I paid for her education. Dear St. Catharines: No, she is not right. The generation gap is not as difficult to bridge today as it once was. Many "grannies" are now very much with it. The problem with some granny-teenager connections is that the closeness was not established at an early age. Too bad, but it is never too late to start, and it's up to Granny to make the move.

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Hi! It's Margo here. I'd love to know what you think of the letters -- and the answers!

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Reader Comment
My son is extremely intelligent also, but his people skills are lacking. He has Aspergers, which, simply put, is a very high functioning form of autism. Think Sheldon Cooper. It's not that he's rude, or uncaring. It's that he just doesn't get people or social norms.
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Our Reader to Reader Question of the Week:

Dear Readers,
, whatever they needed I provided. What really hurt my son and I the most was the obituary - we were not mentioned at all. Our friends (mine and hers) were appalled. I was embarrassed and upset for not just me, but for my son-who loved her also. I never been so upset. Her x-husband put his wife and kids and their grandchildren in the obituary, who my girlfriend barely knew. They live an hour away from us. I know its silly to be mad over a little section of the newspaper, but it still hurts. Will time let this devastating loss of her and this article ever go away? I am so angry at this whole situation, its not like we can go and rewrite an obituary notice.

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"Don't accept your dog's admiration as conclusive evidence that you are wonderful."
-Ann Landers