Mensa, the group for the very smart, held a gathering and testing session on Mercer Island on Saturday, as some hopefuls talked of the social lives of the very, very smart.
On a sunny spring day when they could have been barbecuing, two women and four guys showed up Saturday afternoon to take the Mensa test to see if they had IQs in the top 2 percent of the population.
What is the number one more than one-tenth of one-fifth of one-half of 4,000?
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This group for the very, very smart is overwhelmingly male — men make up two-thirds of the national membership of 58,000, and the 1,200 in Western Washington.
The membership might be mostly guys, but setting up for the test at Mercer Island Community and Event Center were two women Mensa officers. Women make up the majority of the local steering committee, and they also make up half the attendance at various Mensa meetings.
Maybe the men are just staying home, programming.
The women — those taking the test, and those administering it — talked about what it’s like to navigate the relationship seas in which most of the males they meet are, how to put it, dumber than they are.
“Don’t throw your IQ in a guy’s face. I never downplay my intelligence, but I’ve never won a fight by saying, ‘Which one of us is in Mensa?’ “
That was one of the dating tips from Michelle Rakshys, 30, a Seattle project manager for an email marketing firm who’s on the steering committee.
She joined Mensa in 2005, the year she earned a master’s in music business from New York University. Rakshys knew early on she was really brainy. In elementary school in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., she tested with an IQ of 136 — the average IQ is 100.
Rakshys likes to read Wired magazine and Harvard Business Review. She’s also a big fan of the 1980s hard-core punk genre of music by such bands as Black Flag.
Here is another tip from Rakshys for smart young women looking for compatible guys to date:
“Don’t judge at first glance. I’m sure most guys who see me covered in tattoos cursing at a baseball game don’t think ‘She must be in Mensa!’ Likewise, you can find a really smart guy in really random places.”
The tattoos to which Rakshys refers include one on the inside of her lower lip that says “positive,” which she explains is a “mental hard-core attitude.” Tattoos that go from her right shoulder all the way to her hand include not only roses but a gun, grenade and razor blade.
As she explained, “I’m not a butterfly kind of girl.”
There was a certain attitude displayed by the smart women at the Mercer Island center. They were quite sure… of themselves.
Meghan James, 27, a Seattle landscape architect, was there to take the test.
She remembered being in first grade, growing up in a Fort Worth, Texas, suburb, and knowing how to read by age 3 ½, and doing research on the Taj Mahal in first grade.
“It’s part of who I am. There is no point in trying to deny it,” she said.
James is single and said that although some men find smart women threatening, she also took to heart what the comedian Ron White said about marrying for looks only.
White says there is always surgery to fix sagging body parts and for tummy tucks — “But let me tell you something, folks: You can’t fix stupid. There’s not a pill you can take; there’s not a class you can go to. Stupid is forever.”
Of the four men taking the test Saturday, one was Syed Arshad, 27, a software engineer.
The test was timed and was over in less than two hours. In a couple of weeks, those participating will get a letter informing them whether they will be invited into Mensa.
Then, besides being able to put the honor on their résumés, they will be able to take part in various social activities.
There are movie nights, and Mensa-type events such as going to a museum or attending a lecture about environmental issues.
Arshad, who is single, said such socializing was something he hoped to do.
He said he wants to meet really smart women.
“But in my experience, they are very careful. They’re extra suspicious. The smarter the woman, the more careful she’ll be about meeting men,” he said.
Another dating tip from Rakshys:
“Try a few dates. Most supersmart people I know are also a little awkward. I need at least two to three dates to tell if a guy is having first-date jitters or just isn’t my thing.”
Roxanne Vierra was the Mensa proctor at the Saturday test.
She is 59 and has been in a relationship with the same man for 26 years. Her IQ is 147. Her partner has an IQ of 160, she said.
She said she hoped really smart young women don’t decide to “play dumb” just to be popular with guys.
Vierra remembered being 16 and growing up in Gridley, a small California farming town. She was dating a boy who had a motorcycle.
“I liked him. He was a lot of fun,” she remembered.
One night in 1968, they went to see the Franco Zeffirelli film version of Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet.”
“There was this one scene in which Juliet and her nurse are talking, and it was a pretty funny part. I was laughing my head off. He had no clue why it was funny, although I’m sure he liked the action parts,” Vierra said. “This was the point where I realized I need to find similar guys to me.”
So, guys, can you answer:
“There is at least one nine-letter word that contains only one vowel. Do you know what it is?”
Really, really smart women are waiting.
Erik Lacitis: 206-464-2237 or email@example.com