Communicating with Bob Bevard, president of the South Texas Mensa Chapter, via email for the last few weeks, I found myself proofreading my messages to him very meticulously before clicking the send button.
Bevard is one of more than 100,000 Mensa members worldwide. Mensa is an organization made up of individuals whose IQs are in the top two percent of the population. Knowing this, the last thing I wanted to do was embarrass myself by overlooking a misspelled word, fragment sentence, or even a dreaded comma splice.
Don’t get me wrong, although I have my dim moments like everyone else, I’d never be nominated for a Darwin Award. I graduated from high school third in my small class of 177 and managed to get through college in a fair amount of time. But this is Mensa — a revered group whose membership includes Oscar-winning actress Geena Davis, sci-fi writer Isaac Asimov, and porn star Asia Carrera. Two-year-old member Georgia Brown, the youngest female ever accepted into British Mensa, posted an IQ of 152 in June 2007.
When Bevard, a motivational speaker by day, invited me to sit in during one of the South Texas Mensa monthly meetings held on the second floor of Central Market on Broadway, I imagined the stereotypical brain surgeons, chaos mathematicians, and poet laureates sitting around reading each other’s minds. Actually, there was a retired brain surgeon present, but there were also teachers, counselors, students, and tradesmen.
“Lots of smart people feel alone in the world or like nobody understands them,” said Bevard, who joined Mensa in 1976 after finishing a tour in the Army. “When you hang out with this group you find souls that you mesh with. It really makes it easy for people to find others with like interests, talents, and intellects. For some people, this is the only place they can find it.”
Originally known as San Antonio Mensa, South Texas Mensa was rechristened only a few years ago to include people from New Braunfels to Corpus Christi and Del Rio. Current membership stands at more than 500.
Tax accountant Chuck Coggins has been a Mensan for 28 years. He met his wife during a San Antonio Mensa meeting in 1977.
“I hate to say it, but the wife is half a point smarter than I am,” Coggins joked. “There’s always a lot of people you can talk to outside of Mensa, but sometimes they have narrow interests. In this group, you can talk about anything.”
“There’s always a discussion about everything from gardening to UFOs to the Bible,” Bevard added. “It’s not all about being high-brow or discussing Einstein’s theorems.” •
It’s 8 a.m. when I walk into a classroom in the Moody Learning Center at San Antonio College where I will be taking the official Mensa test to see if I’d qualify to be part of the prestigious IQ society.
Earlier that week, I found out the two tests I would take are not the only ones American Mensa will accept for membership. Other recognized tests include the Miller Analogies Test, the Stanford Binet, and the LSAT (Since 1994, SAT scores are no longer accepted. Same for the GRE post 2001).
The first test, the Wunderkind, was a 12-minute, 50-question speed race through topics ranging from math to language to visual association (the Sesame Street song “One of These Things is Not Like the Others” kept playing in my head). The second exam, a seven-section doozy, was more analytical in scope and also tested my short-term memory.
When my test results are mailed to me in two-three weeks, I will not receive a score. Mensa extends only simple and seemingly aloof “yes” or “no.” I may never know how old Jane is (she’s three times older than Ann who’s twice the age of John who’s 10 years younger than Gus who’s half the age of Josh who’s 10 years older than Mary and their total ages equal 220) but I tried my best. I don’t think I’ll be too disappointed to find out I’m not a genius.
To find out when the next local Mensa testing date is, contact the coordinator at