I have a friend named Bob. I love him. He's an educator in a women's prison (he once suggested I apply there, then we both laughed and laughed). He's also a history freak, a major gamer (although its mostly chess these days) and an aficionado of classical music and fine wines. He's a brilliant individual who follows his own path. Unique.
Imagine my surprise then when last night my wife and I attended a Mensa get together and I found myself in a roomful of Bob. I'm not saying they were all into fine wine and classical music, but there was a strange ambiance in the air, an ambiance one finds at different fan conventions, an aura of sheer---nerdhood.
Mensa is a group of people who have passed an intelligence test come together to socialize and bask in their intelligence, or at least to find an acceptance they might be denied in the world of the normals. Instead of long discussions about Klingon and the inconsistencies in Cameron's "Avatar", they talk about --- Klingon and the inconsistencies in Cameron's "Avatar". Instead of awkwardly looking for camaraderie and perhaps finding a possible date for an undateable soul---they awkwardly look for camaraderie and hope to find a possible date for an undateable soul.
Much of the evening was spent playing games.
I noticed an absence of the usual fantasy and science fiction activities that one would find at a genre convention. Instead there were a good deal of games that Mensites (my term), would play to affirm their Mensitiness. I'm not saying these games were any more complex (they weren't), or that they relied on a special knowledge (they didn't), but one could imagine a game manufacturer sitting in a marketing meeting saying: "Put it in a plain box and include obtuse and intentionally confusing instructions, the Mensites will eat it up." Much like the manufacturers do for the genre community when they say "Put it in a box with an alien and a half-naked broad on the cover and include obtuse and intentionally confusing instructions and the fanboys will eat it up."
My wife keeps at me to take the Mensa test and to join their horde. I refuse..."I don't know my IQ and I don't want to," I protest. "What if I take an IQ test and find out I'm an idiot who's been overachieving all these years."
"You won't," she coos and daubs at the drool at the corner of my mouth.
Mensa and Furries, there's not a lot of difference other than the costume.