Tuesday, May 30, 2000

Completely Mental, I Must Say

I went to a Mensa "New Members Reception" over the weekend. I approached it with some trepidation. I mean, what kind of people join an organization whose only entrance criterion is scoring well on an intelligence test? I mean, really. Stop for a second and get a mental image.

There. I have no idea what your mental image is, but wasn't that fun? One of the mental images I formed was of a bunch of complete geeks. Now far be it from me to get high-and-mighty on this subject, but I prefer the company of self-aware, ironic geeks. Anyway, another image that I got was of my friends from CTY, a program for academically talented kids I attended as a youth. They were a blast, and the only standard to get in there was scoring well on the SAT in middle school. So...I decided to roll the dice and take a chance. I mean, what's the worst thing that could happen? If I didn't feel like joining, I'd have material for a weblog entry.

About an hour into the party, I was composing a weblog entry in my mind. Not for the total-geek reason I imagined, but well...the first title that sprung to mind was "Older and Wiser." 90% of the people there were over 40. Don't get me wrong, I like people over-40, but it wasn't exactly the social scene I was looking for. I was wondering what happened...is this a manifestation of the Baby Boomer dominance of our population? Is Mensa an idea that has come and gone, and these are the aging remnants of a once-thriving group?

But I stuck around for the announcements, after wading through a lot of polite chatter and trying to explain to people where I work. A woman belonging to the younger 10% stood up and introduced herself as the co-ordinator of the Singles SIG. She explained that Singles did not mean that she was "here to introduce you to your soulmate" or that you weren't in a couple; it rather meant you were there by yourself to do things "targeted at the 21-to-35 age range". (So why the name? I'm new here; I haven't asked such questions yet.)

Anyway, the "21-to-35" comment caught my attention, so I went up to ask her some questions and instead found myself being bombarded by them. "Why are you here?" "What did you hope to get out of this?" "Why would you think anyone my age would want to come to one of these events?" It turned out that she was really annoyed by Metropolitan Washington Mensa's means of introducing new members to the group, and wanted to use me to prove a point.

Cool. Bitter is interesting. Bitter I like better than cocktail party chit-chat. Anyway, after the party, some members (including a couple of the 10%) went out to dinner at "EatZi's" and I joined them. It was a better setting to get to know people, and I had a good time. I was convinced that the Singles SIG might provide a more entertaining way to mingle with these Mensans. And...well, I'm sitting here with my application and my GRE scores, and thinkin' about sending them in...