Sunday, 16 January 2011

Vive la difference

The people I'm furious with are the women's liberationists. They keep getting up on soapboxes and proclaiming women are brighter than men. That's true, but it should be kept quiet or it ruins the whole racket. Anita Loos

Not long after Mrs QO and I were married, I said to her that I was thinking of sitting the Mensa application test. "Well, why not? I might too," she said. So one evening we both presented ourselves at a room in People's College and sat the test. Naturally, the first thing we did thereafter was to repair to the Trip to Jerusalem to compare notes on how we'd answered the questions. We'd got into that habit at college, since we were both reading for English degrees. With pints in front of us, we started the analysis.

"So what did you put for question 2 - Ecuador or Butterfly?"
"Um... I thought if you rotated it 180 degrees you'd get an aardvaark."
"Oh... never thought of that. OK, so what about question 5? The one where if you put a 20 kilo weight on the scales, would the other end go up or down? I thought down."
"Wha'? No, no, the answer had to be the triangle, cos everything else on the diagram had three sides."

I have never hated a man enough to give his diamonds back. Zsa Zsa Gabor

And so on. It became evident we'd approached things in quite different ways. The one thing we were agreed on was that the young lady who'd acted as Mensa host and invigilator was an arrogant twat, and also that we'd have another pint before going home. OK, yeh, that's two things. Whatever. (Mrs QO would have said 'snowflake', obviously.)

A week or so later the results arrived. In a rather tense silence each of us opened our envelope and had a look. Our eyes met and we swapped letters. There was a moment of some disbelief, and swapping back of letters for a second look. We'd got exactly the same IQ score, though we knew damn well we'd put quite different answers down for a fair number of the questions. We found this outcome particularly satisfying... we were different, we were individuals, but we were of equal worth. Almost as satisfying was the fact that we qualified for Mensa but didn't join, partly following the Groucho Marx line: 'I wouldn't join any club that would have me as a member,' and partly because of the arrogant twat who'd represented the organisation at our test. I'm sure they're not all like that, of course (he said hurriedly in case of legal action).

I have an idea that the phrase "weaker sex" was coined by some woman to disarm some man she was preparing to overwhelm. Ogden Nash

I like to think we've never fretted much about gender roles in our marriage (except where it's blindingly obvious we should, and we'll skate by that, if that's all the same). We seem to have settled into various roles in the household dictated more by personal inclination than any sexual stereotype. Mrs QO does electrics; I do electronics. She does plastering; I do plumbing. If a power tool is used in the house, it's by her; I do more of the run of the mill cleaning and tidying. I know more about our insurances and pensions, while she administers the Christmas card list and mail-merges the address labels with a nonchalant ease of which I'm in awe.

So far, so very much 'us, us, us' but then it is my blog, so suck it up. No, seriously, there was a wider point when I started this post, though I must admit I've kind of forgotten what it was. Something to do with gender stereotyping being fatuous and futile, I think.

Tell you what, let's all go and have a drink. And I'll drop a picture in here while I try and remember all the brilliant socio-sexual analysis I was going to do. OK, this is a cheap gag, but I want all the men reading this not to be too upset at the thought of being far less complex, adaptable and subtle than women. Grow a pair and deal.

I'm not offended by all the dumb blonde jokes because I know that I'm not dumb ... and I also know that I'm not blonde. Dolly Parton


  1. I did the 'do it yourself' Mensa test once. They send it in the post and you send it back to them for marking. They told me that I was in the top 2% of people in the country and encouraged me to take the 'proper' test.

    I never did... mainly because I thought the first result was probably wrong (although I was scrupulously honest in my answers) and a lower score in the sort of test you and Mrs QO took would have prevented me, many years later, from telling people that I am one of the cleverest 2% of people in the country.

  2. I think your cunning strategy has in fact amply evidenced your eligibility!