Thoughts from a Partially Sunburned Man

Once upon a time, I was a genius. More accurately, for one brief season of my life, I belonged to Mensa, the so-called genius organization. I say “so called,” for a couple reasons. First, because the membership is based on scores on one of about 27 possible standardized tests, each of which defines intelligence uniquely and measures it in its own way. Since intelligence is a huge ocean of potential, and tests wade along the shore, I believe IQ tests are bunk. As I recall, my membership resulted from an ability to answer trivia questions about 1920’s and 30’s major league players (e.g., “The Arkansas Hummingbird,” Lon Warneke) or maybe it was my Army entrance test scores, designed to sort soldiers into various possible MOS’s (jobs). Since the military tests and measures soldiers all the time, I’m sure my IQ was plumbed at some point. Either way, no test I know of is particularly gifted at picking out the particularly gifted.

The second reason for “so-called genius organization” is that during the single year I belonged, I was in the Army stationed in Germany, and the monthly newsletters I got were written by (almost exclusively) men who thought intelligence could be defined as “an ability to construct puzzles unable to be completed by other human beings, and a willingness to mock the attempts of others to do so.” If Oliver Wendell Holmes described FDR as having “a second-rate mind but a first-rate temperament,” the Mensans I met through their newsletters had “unrate-able minds and rat-like temperaments.”  Still, I did belong, so if I’m ever called before a congressional committee, I’ll have to answer in the affirmative to the question, “Are you now, or have you ever been, a member of a cabal of high-IQ puzzlemasters?”

So, I was a genius for a year. So called.

Saturday, I demonstrated yet again why I am not a genius. Genius is as stupid does.

After meeting with a group of folks in recovery here in Sedona, I came back to my hotel, changed into my bathing suit and went to the swimming pool. Lying in the sun on my back, I felt so relaxed (and jet-lagged) I fell into a deep sleep. Waking up three hours later, I noticed my chest and legs were bright red. Moving, I noticed they were painful. Getting into a lukewarm shower, I noticed what an idiot I can be as the needle-prick water made me scream.

Today, two days later, I’m still in pain, although I can now move about without a Tin-Man gait. Still, not what a genius would do.

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I don’t really like photographs, but today I went for a nice four-mile hike. Without any visual sense at all, these pictures came out of my phone. It’s Sedona, not me.

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