Isn't it wonderful, friends, in this ambiguous, restless, transient world of ours, to have available, for the trifling sum of six-tenths of a sawbuck (slightly higher in Canada and Australia), guidebooks that tell you Everything you need to know to reach the ultimate state of grace: Real Manhood or Real Womanhood? No more stumbling into parties hopelessly under- or over- (or merely) dressed, no more standing in corners clutching your white wine cooler and wondering if you can crawl unnoticed out the bathroom window. Now there is an Eternal, Objective, Foolproof way to tell How You're Doing and whether it's worth continuing the struggle.
Yes, friends, atop that boulder of individuality you've spent your life rolling up the hill of life, now sits an author, checklist in hand, smirk on face and bankroll in pocket, to let you know whether you cut it as a Real Man or a Real Woman -- or whether it's time for you to give up and retire to a corner for the Real People of the world to point to, snicker at, and generally feel superior to. And isn't it amazing, that amid the shifting social sands of the last quarter of the 20th Century, these authors have managed to come up with exhaustive lists of criteria on which to base your feelings of value and self-esteem? Leaving nothing out? Including everything? Haven't they?
Well.., it's funny you should ask. The current supply of books on measuring your R.Q. (Reality Quotient) may be good enough for the hoi polloi, that Other 98%. But there has yet to appear a checklist by which Mensans can tell whether they are Measuring Up, one by which they can tell whether their attempts at participation in the club are feasible or merely laughable.
Yes, friends, here it is, the stairway to Reality, Acceptance, and Popularity, just for Mensans. Now, being the humble person that I am, I make no claims for exhaustiveness. In fact, if you get your fertile brains turning and send in your additions and deletions right away (defended in dissertation format and style, of course), we can whip this little list into shape for submission as a resolution at the next American Mensa Committee meeting. No more debates over who is a Real Mensan, and who a mere hanger-on or, worse, a drag on the Progress of this Society. We will at last have an absolute way of judging who is fit to be called a Mensan.
Real Mensans sign their letters.
Real Mensans habitually auscultate rather than engaging in periphrastic bombastry.
Real Mensans never wear bathing suits.
Real Mensans can agree to disagree.
Real Mensans use their intelligence to nourish and enrich. They never use it for selfaggrandizement or witless mockery.
Real Mensans never grind cigarette ashes into someone's oriental carpet while braying "It's good for the rug."
When Real Mensans take things apart to see how they work (clocks, blenders, each other), they always put them back together again.
Real Mensans respect each others' relationships, never fishing in troubled waters.
Real Mensans never badger members of the opposite sex with their attentions.
Real Mensans bring delicious dishes to potlucks, and always help their hostess clean up.
Real Mensans never put down those of lesser mental ability, except those who hold their egos up to be shot at - e.g. politicians, advice columnists, sportscasters, Mrs. Olsen.
Real Mensans promptly recognize and deflate pomposity whenever they encounter it; for pomposity can start wars.
Knowing you can never prove a negative, Real Mensans are not atheists.
Real Mensans would never earn their living creating engines of mass destruction.
Real Mensans love children, if only from a distance, and honor them for their long hard task of growing up.
No Real Mensan would heckle a speaker just to display his own (generally alcohol-augmented) cleverness.
Real Mensans are not proud of their IQ's, which are an accident of genetics; their pride in their actual achievements is quiet and sure.
Real Mensans make sure a drunk gets home safely, even if it means hiding his car keys.
Real Mensans either watch television or they don't, but in any case they don't make a fuss about it.
Real Mensans are a lot like me, with my tastes, prejudices, understandings and shortcomings. Aren't you pleased you didn't have to spend $5.95 to find that out?
She was a former officer and newsletter staffer in San Francisco Regional Mensa. She was well-known for her columns about the behavior of Mensans. An escapee from Chicago, she has worked as a career programmer at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center.
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