Saturday, August 5, 2006


I'm smart. Not to brag or anything, but since I'm not all that physically attractive and I have little to no social skills, I don't feel too, too awful about bringing it up once or twice. But I'm mentioning it now because I'm trying to join Mensa, which I assume is full of nerds discussing their Diplomacy strategies, debating the merits of Jedi versus Empire, and developing grandiose forced mating schemes.

The admission process is rigorous and carefully designed to keep all those egghead wannabes in the ninety-seventh or (gasp!) ninety-sixth percentile out of their club. I've taken some IQ tests before, once in fourth grade to get into some snooty prep school and once as a three-year-old, because even back then, my parents could see I'd never grow up to be a Matt Ratliff and they'd better nurture one of my other gifts. I bet if the toddler IQ test hadn't gone well, they would've exposed me to radioactive spiders or mysterious silver meteorites or something. Kinda wish they had, like maybe I could've been in a nuclear waste accident that makes me impervious to their co-dependent guilt. But I'm getting off topic. The point is that merely having and passing an IQ test doesn't make you Mensa material; you've got to send in an original copy of the psychiatrist's report on the IQ test, on official letterhead with his or her state license number, signed and notarized, and hand-delivered to Mensa's U.S. headquarters in Houston by either certified mail or a trained yak. I don't remember my college applications being that needlessly bureaucratic. Mensa: you're just a bunch of poindexters playing speed chess, not the popular clique in high school.

It doesn't matter anyway, since that test from fourth grade, along with pretty much everything else from fourth grade, has long been lost to the mists of entropy. I found a copy of the Woodcock-Johnson IV (yes, that's its real name, stop giggling) Skills Assessment from a few years back, but that won't satisfy the sticklers at Mensa. It seems easier to take the official Mensa IQ test, so I emailed the Mensa local coordinator about the testing and she emailed me this back:

Dear Jay Harris,

Please ensure that your spam blockers can accept email from this address.

Thank you for your interest in Mensa, the High IQ Society.

Mensa supervised testing sessions, subject to change, will be held at the following times and locations:

Saturday, August 19, 2006
Culture Fair
11:00 AM -?
Edison, NJ 08817
Limited Seating

Sunday, September 24, 2006 - Subject to change
1:30 PM - 3:30 PM
Hillsborough Municipal Bldg
Hillsborough, NJ 08844

Saturday, October 21, 2006 - National Testing Day
1:00 PM - 3:00 PM
Sayreville Public Library
Parlin, NJ 08859

Thursday, December 21, 2006 - Subject to change
7:00 PM - 9:00 PM
Hillsborough Municipal Bldg
Hillsborough, NJ 08844

There will be two tests proctored with a short break between them. A score in the top 2 percent on either of the tests will qualify you for Mensa membership.

If you have any condition for which you feel would make a standard test unsuitable or your main language is not English you may be given our non-language untimed battery of tests (Culture Fair). Let me know if this is your preference.

If you will be able to attend a testing session please complete and return the form below to me prior to the scheduled time with your check or money order The testing fee must be received before you can be scheduled to take the tests.

Confirmation will be forwarded to you upon registration.

Should you have any questions in the interim, please feel free to contact me. I am looking forward to hearing from you.

Martha A. McKeon
And right now, I'd like to point out something you'd probably just assume someone smarter than 98% of the population would realize on their own: "Please ensure that your spam blockers can accept email from this address." Right.... If my spam blocker won't accept email from your address, Martha, then it won't accept your warning about the spam blocker not accepting email from you address. Genius.

I wanted to sign up for the August 19 test because it's the closest and earliest of the four. However, one might notice — well, I noticed — that there's no clue where in Edison the test is. (And what's up with the 11:00 AM until question mark? Are there gonna be cocktails after?) So, I wrote back to Martha the Mensa Mistress:
Where's the test being held on August 19? Edison is a pretty big town....
And why am I like consigned to the circle of Hell where everyone sends you dickish email responses? Case in point:
Aha - so you're interested in the Culture Fair test, right?
2 blocks from Bridge St, which is right off Rte 27, Metuchen-Edison border, also near Rte 287, and not far from Rte 1. Does that help?
If you sign up for it, the confirmation gives the complete street address, which is my home.
Interested? Limited to 5 people, you would be the 2nd, if yes, Jay.

Bet you noticed the other addresses are incomplete, too. Those are big towns as well.

The Comic Sans was her idea, masking her goading me with typographical levity. But no, Martha, I'm not interested in the culture-fair test; I'm interested in the closest test, so I hope they take a few points off your IQ for jumping to conclusions. More to the point, Martha, what on earth did you expect to gain by including that last paragraph there? If you want to challenge me to a parse-off, then say so and bring it on! Round one: I've never been to the Sayreville Public Library or to the Hillsborough Municipal Building, but I'd take odds on the fact that either of those locations is significantly smaller than the entire town of Edison. Rebuttal?