Ramblings From an Apathetic Adult Baby

Mostly rambles, few brambles

I Have No Desire to Ever Attempt to Join Mensa

You know, I like to think I’m pretty smart. I like good movies and pizza, too.


I don’t really like bad movies, but bad pizza is okay.


On Facebook, an old classmate of mine posted that she had been accepted into Mensa, the worldwide high IQ society. The comments were kind and a little inquisitive. She’d responded to one by saying that she had studied a bit for the tests and that the examination comprised of one twelve-minute, multiple-choice Wonderlic assessment and a longer U.S.-specific test with several sections. All of it had occurred one Saturday morning at a local testing center and it had cost her sixty dollars. Her responses were gracious, overly aw-shucks considering she was the author of this somewhat braggy post.


She and I had been contemporaries in high school. Neither of us took any Honors or AP classes, but we were both big fish in the less competitive “college-bound” course track. We’d once made out on the adjacent practice field during a football game. I’d been her first kiss after her old boyfriend had died in a car accident. I didn’t know what to make of that fact thirteen years ago and I still don’t. I should ask her—she is, after all, in Mensa.


I typed up something but then closed out of Facebook without posting. Social media, I thought, was still the gold standard for shameless boasting dressed up like news. Even if I took the test, passed, and paid the annual seventy-dollar dues, I don’t think I’d ever be able to post anything like she had. My hypothetical costly membership in Mensa—providing me with a network of strangers who are intelligent but not smart enough to find a cost-free way to derive self-esteem—would likely never be something to arise organically in conversation. Membership or no membership, humility would keep the public’s opinion of me right where it is now: friends and family deeming my intellect average, and my modesty above average.


Flaunting this achievement could only ever feel contrived and kind of gross. “Hold my opinions in higher esteem,” it’s screaming, “for I’m very bright.” It would not sit well that day or ten years later. Until I repressed it completely, I’d know I once felt compelled to inform the world of my genius, wanting to try to capitalize on their mental shortcuts, hoping others would infer that I always know what I’m talking about. This is all assuming I pass my one shot. Failing it and I would always know, in my heart of hearts, that I am certifiably not-a-genius.


Sitting for this culturally biased test that’s constantly being recalibrated seems to be a lose-lose proposition. The best-case scenario is that I’m allowed to pay money each year to maintain a title that would feel slimy to work into a conversation.


I took a bite of lukewarm pizza, logged back into Facebook, and re-typed my comment. I could be brave and ask the tough questions—it’s high time we started a dialogue about how my kissing compared to that of a dead teenager.

6 responses to “I Have No Desire to Ever Attempt to Join Mensa

  1. Fred (Au Natural) February 18, 2020 at 8:07 pm

    I did join Mensa – 40 years ago. It isn’t nearly as interesting as it used to be, so I left about 20 years ago. They keep sending me stuff. I wonder… If I rejoin could I use local Mensa (Los Angeles) to promote my show? Hmmm…

    And “Hello!” to a fellow Michigander. I grew up in Clare and Gladwin, moved to Midland when I was 15. Then I left home in 1977 and went to Califonia. I never looked back and I don’t miss the snow.

    • justingawel February 19, 2020 at 7:20 am

      Congrats on joining! Promoting a show is always a good reason to re-up with a genius club.

      California’s a nice spot, you definitely could do much worse than beautiful weather almost every day. MidMichigan a good spot too; I’m a little further north in Traverse City now, and we’re jazzed that it might be over 40 this weekend.

      • Fred (Au Natural) February 19, 2020 at 2:26 pm

        I love Michigan for a lot of the year. The northern forest defines my notion of ideal natural beauty. The happy time ends with Halloween and doesn’t start up again until my birthday in April.

        Winter is beautiful too. I was never able to enjoy the cold and the short days amplified my depresion.

      • justingawel February 20, 2020 at 5:58 am

        Completely understand that. The short days are tough, though the long summer days are fantastic. We’ll be hibernating up here for a few more weeks yet!

  2. garousauvage March 11, 2020 at 1:43 pm

    Intelligence is knowing a lot.
    Wisdom is putting it to good use.

    I found more relief on not boasting my intelligence and just having plain, good’ol fun.
    (And putting that time in more fruitful and productive endeavors..).

    Solid post!

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