As it turned out, several Whidbey Island Mensans went to the AG in Portland. It was fun spending time with Penelope; our trip down was one long meaty conversation. She has a way of asking questions and responding to the answers that inspires me to talk (a lot). I noticed this as I launched into yet another extended answer to one of her questions and dimly realized that I was talking far more than she.
It's funny----you'd think a preacher would have a hard time shutting up when given an opportunity to talk, but I am more comfortable listening to somebody else. I am uneasy talking about myself unless specifically assigned to do so. Like in a sermon, for example. And here I was, rattling on about whatever she asked, words flowing steadily in a more or less coherent stream. Heavens! It was lovely and I didn't feel the least bit self-conscious. She had asked, after all, so I considered it permission to spiel on and on (and on).
She and Richard and I attended a couple of lectures together, most notably one by Richard Lederer entitled "Conan the Grammarian" and were gratified to learn that it is NOT ungrammatical to end a sentence with a preposition (graceful speech trumps awkward construction) NOR is it ungrammatical to split infinitives (again, graceful construction is more important). And he should know. He is a well-known linguistic and language expert, also a Mensan, and writes for the Mensa Bulletin. He's also very funny. We came away feeling quite smug about our own grammar knowledge but also learning a few new things (none of which I can remember at the moment).
This AG was much more about such sessions than about seeing old friends, though I did see a few familiar faces. I attended a session about aging well and making sure one's living quarters were appropriate to one's abilities. Nothing too new there. But my retirement ponderings made it an appropriate session for me.
I also attended a session on dating outside one's demographic. Aka, are "cougars" really drunken older women who feel trapped by their life's circumstances (think Mrs. Robinson) and trying to seduce innocent younger men or are they women who prefer to date men (or, I guess, women) who are more their speed and inclination? The speaker for that lecture was Miss International Cougar, a beautiful woman of about 45 who nearly always dates men who are many years younger and finds them more to her liking than men older than she who can't keep up with her or have expectations that are unattractive.
Another session was the nightly "fishbowl" in which a group of men and women ask gender and sex questions of each other in a setting which allows for confidentiality and honesty. In my group, the women far outnumbered the men, but we did get to hear some pretty straightforward questions and answers: Viagra---what's it like to take it? what can a man do to be the most appealing to a woman? (one answer: the dishes) where is the G spot? what is a total turnoff for a man, sexually? etc. There were some pretty spicy questions and answers, but, as one participant said, "hell, I don't know anybody here----here's what I think".
One thing about a large gathering of Mensans: we tend to let our most outrageous selves hang out at these functions. The Eccentrics were out in full force, with beanies and nerdy slogans on t-shirts stretched tight over large bellies, bellicosity on both ends of the political spectrum, wild outfits, and the like. It was somewhat disturbing to see how many members of the upper 2% IQ scores are hugely obese, to the point of needing electric scooters to navigate. When one mostly uses one's brain instead of one's body, the outcome is inevitable. It was not a pretty sight. And yet, the brains inside those immense bodies are working just fine---except in the area of health.
Richard and I were scheduled to perform at the Sunday night cabaret and we had practiced quite a lot to get ready. We were planning to offer a few of our songs from our former group Trilogy, old Hoagy Carmichael and Irving Berlin stuff from the 20's and 30's. I was pretty dubious about my staying power---we were scheduled for an 11:30 p.m. slot---but, despite a few glitches and a few less-than-happy exchanges with the organizer, it turned out fine and I felt we gave a good show. Unfortunately, we didn't start till midnight and by then most of the audience was gone. But those remaining were enthusiastic and appreciative.
Will I go back to a national Mensa gathering? Probably not. It's expensive to stay in a hotel for four nights and adding air fare and meals to the package ups the cost. Next year's gathering is in Reno, where the FS lives, but I'm going there for his graduation in December and don't particularly want to go back in the hot summertime. I'll stick to local gatherings like our monthly TGIF on the island and an occasional foray into Seattle events.