I had one of those negative moments of enlightenment last week. I don’t like them much.
Some time ago, and completely without malice, one of my kids mentioned to a friend that I was a Mensan, and that kid mentioned it to their mom, and the mom became interested in being friends. I don’t like to make assumptions, and I don’t casually spurn offers of friendship, so we’ve met for cards or lunch from time to time and have a good time talking and so forth.
For the most part, I thought we were bonding over being in the same age range, having kids the same age who were friends, having similar interests, and all that other “friendship” stuff. I did know that I wished she didn’t know about my Mensan status because she brought it up several times in conversation, and it made me uncomfortable. I turned the conversation in other directions and mentally moved on.
Well, earlier this week, we were both in a group of people, and we were all talking about experiences with doctors. My friend mentioned her doctor, I asked what she liked about him, and the first thing out of her mouth was, “Well, he’s a Mensan, so, you know, we get along…” It was like she was saying he was a member of the right country club, or the right class, as if we shared a mutual bigotry.
Now, mind you, my friend is not a Mensan. I have no idea of whether or not she has checked into joining, or if she’s qualified or not. I’ll be honest, though, and say that I have my doubts and leave it, snottily, at that. And, basically, I don’t care because I don’t become, or stay, friends with people on that basis. It has never occurred to me to even consider whether or not friends are up to some intellectual benchmark, other than I may realize on some level that they are having trouble learning something I take for granted, or they occasionally poke fun at me for being a walking dictionary.
When she said that I was shocked, and then I was hurt, and then I was angry. I could feel myself withdrawing from her, too. I feel betrayed, too, and the suspicion is there that if I hadn’t “qualified”, she wouldn’t have given me the time of day. None of this means that I’m going to dump her, reject her friendship, or cut her out; friends are too rare and, by gum, I have plenty of my own flaws and quirks and subconscious white noise going on to take it THAT personally.
But I heard it, and it stuck, and it fit, and that makes it unforgettable, which is the hard part of the entire encounter. I also know now that we will never become the kind of friends we might have been had I not realized how important other people’s IQ qualifications are to her. I feel dirtied by implication. I have, unknowingly, lain down with fleas, as it were.
And, I’m going to have to explicitly set a boundary with her myself, which pisses me off. I’m going to have to tell her, just like I’ve told my family, that I consider it personal information that should not be disseminated without my express permission. I hate that she and her ego have put me in the position of having to do so.
Or, possibly, I am a big wienerhead.