Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Mensa May Not Be What You Think

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Mensa May Not Be What You Think

Article excerpt

Byline: Mark Woods, The Times-Union

I used to think Mensa was a club full of nerdy eggheads who could tell you all about quantum theory and Bill James' baseball statistics, but couldn't tell you where they left their car keys.

Then a funny thing happened.

Well, at least that's how my friends, family and co-workers reacted to me saying that I had been invited to join Mensa.

I might as well have said that I stopped to buy some beer and got carded. And the cute young cashier hit on me, saying I reminded her of Tom Cruise, only sexier.

"Dude," my editor said between bursts of laughter. "Someone made a mistake."

I thought about responding with a biting comeback, perhaps in Latin. Unfortunately, I don't know any Latin. So I used this scholarly retort:

"Oh, yeah?"

It all started last month with a news release. Mensa, the self-described "high IQ society," was holding its annual National Testing Day. People would be gathering at 150 sites around the country, paying $30 and taking a test. Anyone whose score placed them in the top 2 percent of the population would be invited to join the club that has 100,000 members worldwide.

This news release prompted the bosses to look for someone in the newsroom willing to make a fool out of himself. And for some reason they thought of the writer who wore a unitard for an Olympics ad.

I contacted George Skevos. He repairs chemical instruments for a living. He has been in Mensa since 1991. This year he's president of the local chapter, which has about 200 members.

"It takes a lot of courage just to try," he said.

Not as much as wearing a unitard, I thought.

It was a Saturday morning. Pat Williams, a Mensa member since the 1970s, administered the test in an accounting office in an Arlington strip mall. There were two of us. Me and a young guy in jeans, a leather jacket and a baseball cap. …

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