Editor's Note: Kay Grant forwarded the following exchange of correspondence. We are publishing it (after checking with Mr. Russell) for the entertainment of all persons who have tried to get free speakers for Mensa gatherings.
Mr. Mark Russell
Dear Mr. Russell:
People with less integrity than I would begin this letter by telling you how appreciative they are of your wittiness, charm, good looks, intelligence, and the ability to entertain them. Though every bit of it is true, I would never stoop so low as to play up the flattery. Better, I feel, to get right to the point.
Mensa, the non-profit international, high-IQ society, will hold its first Annual Colloquium in Boston from October 29-31. (As you may know, Mensa's only membership requirement is an IQ score in the 98th percentile or higher.) We are sponsored by the charitable foundation, the Mensa Education and Research Foundation. The theme for the conference is FORECASTING A VALID TOMORROW: Destination A.D. 2000, with these four topics to be studied during the weekend: Government and Politics; The Individual in Society; Interpersonal Communication and Language; and Education.
It will be a weekend devoted to serious study, but on Saturday evening, after a full day of speakers and workshops, we want to reward our participants with the lighter side of the year 2000. Who better to take a look at life at the beginning of the next century than you?
The good news is that it will be an exciting, stimulating conference, and we believe you will enjoy it. The bad news is that our budget for speakers' expenses is low. Embarrassingly low. Even lower than that. (If we're so smart, why aren't we rich?) But, Mr. Russell, think of the prestige Think of the glory. Think of the fun. Think of anything except the money!
There are several things that we can do for you: (a) provide extensive favorable publicity; (b) swear that you are every bit as bright and witty as people think you are; (c) treat you warmly; (d) start a Mark Russell Fan Club; (e) pay your travel expenses.
I would like to discuss the matter with you in more detail and will call you in a few days. Many thanks for your consideration of this humble supplication.
Kay Grant, Chair
American Mensa Annual Colloquium
Kay Grant, Chair
San Francisco, CA
Dear Miss Grant:
If they ever give an award for "Best Letter of Request for Services for which There is no Budget," I would spare no energy lobbying on your behalf. Your letter was tempting. It tugged at my heartstrings and the fact that it did nothing for my purse strings has no bearing on why I must reluctantly decline.
I will be traveling in the West at the time of your Boston Colloquium, but please ask me again. I would be honored to participate at some future time just to show those who claim that I am of meretricious mentality. After all, in Washington, an Honorary Mensa is as good as the real thing.
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