American Mensa just sent me an email message inviting me to renew our lapsed membership, and I figured, what the hell. As I filled in the required information, I was reminded of how we joined Mensa in the first place.
Marilyn had met a Mensa member while attending a technical conference in San Diego sponsored by the US Navy. She was employed by the China Lake Naval Weapons Center at Ridgecrest, near Mojave and Edwards. A few weeks after the conference, the Mensa member informed Marilyn that Mensa was conducting an entrance exam at Cerro Coso Community College the upcoming Saturday. That was 430 miles from where we lived in Petaluma, a nearly seven-hour drive under favorable conditions. I am quite certain that we could have found a much closer exam site had we really cared to look into it, but for us it was another excuse to be road warriors.
I put in a full day’s work in San Francisco, getting up before dawn to catch the commute bus, returning to Petaluma late that afternoon. Rather than immediate depart for Ridgecrest through Friday evening traffic, we messed around at the Petaluma Factory Outlets to do some gratuitous shopping, then hit the road in earnest in fading light. We stopped for a midnight meal somewhere in the San Joaquin Valley, and later we stopped for coffee, and we stopped for coffee, and we stopped for coffee… yeah, one of those trips. We reached Ridgecrest at first light. We crashed for a couple of hours in our host’s spare room, never really getting to sleep after being wired from doing Radar Love all frakking night. Then we grabbed a couple of breakfast burritos and a couple of large cups of orange juice at a drive-thru (Southern California spelling), arrive in the exam room, breakfasts in hand. I can only imagine how burned-out we both looked.
I smiled to the examination staff, “You’re not exactly catching us at our best.”
Marilyn nodded, “That much is certain.”
A few weeks later, we recounted this story to the bartender at Jack’s Place on Petaluma Boulevard North. “You guys don’t sound very smart to me!”
“It was perfectly logical,” I explained. “If we failed the exam, it left open the very real possibility that we might have passed had we only had a good night’s sleep. It was a no-lose scenario. And, by the way, we both passed.”
Yes, as a matter of fact, we did pass the Mensa exam in our sleep… or nearly so.