Right off the bat, Brooke Carey proves just how smart she is.
"Who's buried in Grant's Tomb?," she is asked.
After her laughter subsides, she answers, "Grant."
But she's not done. Carey then goes on to tell you that she just so happens to be a descendant of General Ulysses S. Grant, and proceeds to outline the great man's contributions to American history.
Despite this impressive display of brainpower, Carey insists that she is not all that smart. Even though she seems to know something about everything, and a lot about most things.
Even though she is a member of Mensa the national organization otherwise known as "the High-IQ Society" that's comprised of more than 47,000 of the brainiest folks in the nation.
Even though her single-minded goal at the moment is to recruit as many new smarties as she can find in the Rim country.
To that end, Carey will be hosting a membership admissions test for Mensa from 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m. this Saturday, April 20 giving area residents their first opportunity in years to test their intellectual potential in what Carey describes as "a discreet and confidential manner."
Carey herself became a Mensa member purely by accident about 15 years ago, she said.
"I was working in the office of the Credit Union Trade Association, and there was a guy there who belonged to Mensa," Carey recalled. "He kept talking about Mensa this and Mensa that, and bragging about it. I finally said to him, 'You know, most of the people I know are really smart, and they don't belong to Mensa, so it isn't a big deal.' He said, 'What's the matter, Brooke? You think you're smart enough?' And I said, 'I don't know, just get over it.
"The next day, I came to work, and there on the desk was a brochure on how to become a Mensan. I read it and..."
The upshot: A week later, Carey received a Mensa membership welcome letter.
"I put it on his desk," she said with a wicked laugh. "He was so disheartened, he quit his job. He thought he was going to be some kind of a big fish. This was his life! It's a nothing deal."
That humor and self-deprecation with which Carey tells the story is typical of the way she approaches a topic which scares off many people: Mensa is no big deal, but it's fun and here's the reason she loves being a member you get to meet a lot of people who can actually hold up their end of a conversation.
The Mensa testing she'll be conducting Saturday will not only provide all comers with the opportunity to discover that pleasure, but to also familiarize themselves with the advantages of a Mensa membership, and to make membership more accessible to those interested in the organization. If there is sufficient response, Carey said, a Mensa chapter might even be formed in the Rim country.
Mensa was founded in Great Britain in 1946, and it came to the United States in 1960. Today, 100,000 members represent more than 100 countries in an organization whose name has a triple meaning in Latin: of mind, table, month, which suggests a monthly meeting of great minds around a table.
As outlined in its constitution, Mensa has three purposes: To identify and foster human intelligence for the benefit of humanity; to encourage research into the nature, characteristics, and uses of intelligence; and to provide a stimulating intellectual and social environment for its members. Current dues for American Mensa are $49 a year. Life, multi-year, and family plans are available.
"As an organization, American Mensa provides intelligent individuals an opportunity to meet other smart people at the local, regional and national levels," said Carey, a Michigan native and seven-month Payson resident.
"Mensans interact at entertainment events and exchange ideas through a variety of publications. They also work to help others in their communities by providing scholarships and volunteering for community activities. And as an added bonus, the 2002 national Mensa gathering is being hosted in Scottsdale in July, allowing members to meet and socialize with fellow Mensans from around the world. Mensans come from all walks of life and all levels of society. They just so happen to share one trait: high intelligence."
The American Mensa test that will be administered locally by Greg Webster, project coordinator of the greater Phoenix Mensa chapter, is composed of two standardized IQ tests featuring questions involving logic and deductive reasoning. (Also available by prior arrangement is a selection of culture-fair, non-language tests.)
To qualify for Mensa, test-takers must score in the top 2 percent of the general population on one of the tests. In lieu of taking the qualifying tests, prospective members can instead submit evidence of prior testing. Mensa accepts SAT and GRE scores, among many others. Participants must be at least 14 years old, and must present a photo ID.
For local directions and other information regarding Mensa testing, call Brooke Carey at 474-2957. Registration and a get-acquainted period will begin at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, and testing will take place between 12:30 p.m. sharp and 2 p.m. Participants are asked to bring a $30 check or money order, payable to American Mensa, LTD. Cash, Visa or MasterCard will also be accepted.
For general information on Mensa, phone Marla Whipple at Mensa's national headquarters in Arlington, Texas, at (817) 607-0600 ext. 129, or visit www.us.mensa.org.
The youngest Mensan is 3 years old; the oldest is nearly 100 years old.
About 45 percent are Baby-Boomers between the ages of 34 and 53.
More than 48 percent of new members in 1999 were Gen-Xers between the ages of 14 and 33.
General membership: 65% male, 35% female
Leadership (national and local officers): 50% male, 50% female
There are more than 1,200 families with two or more Mensa members.
The 10 largest local Mensa groups, based on March 2000 membership figures, are found in San Francisco (2,151), Greater New York (2,116), Chicago Area (1,867), Metropolitan Washington (1,706), Greater Los Angeles (1,461), Southeast Michigan (1,091), Delaware Valley (1,064), Mensa in Georgia (1,044), Gulf Coast Texas (1,042), Boston (1,035).