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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.