I'd only been exposed to the "Average Joes" show after I'd overheard discussions about "CAP scores" used to measure how successful a person was, or, I guess, could be. Until I'd heard about the use of such a test I didn't have any interest in the show, and, to be brutally candid, once I'd skimmed an episode of the show, my apathy returned to its more normal state with me doing a little more reading on the subject of CAP scoring via the InterNet.
'CAP' is a TLA, a three letter acronym (my dad had worked for IBM up until he got pushed out in a big layoff some years back, so I got more than my fair share of familiarity with acronyms than most students in my grade) for Capacity, Aptitude and Potential. At one time I thought it sounded like a re-branding of the "Ability Quotient" Mack Reynolds had created for a story of the same name, especially since intelligence is not always the best measure of competence, civilization, cooperativeness or confidence.
It had had me wondering about some of the older students at school who drove many of the rest of us -- you know, the "peasants" -- to spend time debating and speculating about how they would score.
I am Kim, short for Kimball Kinnison O'Brien, at the time these events first unfolded merely a month shy of my fourteenth birthday, and, at the same time, a senior in high school.
Yes, I got jumped ahead in my schooling, more than once, as have the rest of my siblings. I have two of each in brothers and sisters, one of each gender older along with a set of paternal twins younger than myself. Yes, this does make me the "middle child".
I sometimes think that the naming conventions chosen by my parental units had been intended to motivate us all to advance ourselves through school as quickly as possible just to escape.
And, yes, I have read the Lensman series.
And, yes, I have read them multiple times.
And, yes, as puberty had arrived driving my body to grow upwards it had also given me some additional understanding in human relationships in life and in fiction, not that I had much trust in fiction. I did realize that most of humanity's drives and rules are usually left unspoken.
Fortunately for me that hormonal shit-storm known as puberty did not seem to have made me quite as sex-crazed as most of the boys I observed around me at school.
This is not to say that I found the male form at all attractive. This kept me from worrying over the idea I was likely to form non-heterosexual preferences. I enjoyed looking at the girls in school but managed to avoid complete drooling idiocy.
Well, at least I thought I had. Can you pronounce hubris? I knew you could!
I was still considered a runt, of course, given the large age differential between myself and those in my classes. The majority of my class-mates were usually seventeen years old with the more-than-occasional examples of eighteen and nineteen year-old students who were in school for the sports teams rather than graduating via a GED.
Or, as some of us, their victims, thought, prison.
Yes, I am talking about those swaggering tin-plated dictators with delusions of godhood who proudly wear the title of "jock". I found it odd that these kinds of people seemed to be upheld as somehow "less evil" than those of us who excelled in the academic end of schooling especially given their propensity for poor impulse control and violence.
I know, I know ... everyone who hasn't been home-schooled suffers from a more widespread form of "jock itch", a desire to just kill as many of them as possible in as slow and excruciating a fashion possible.
Hmmmmm ... now I can better understand why people with high intelligence may get painted as super-villians by the intellectually challenged: the jocks just can't cope with the idea that they will, someday, need to address people like me, as "boss".
My own fantasies shared in discussions with others complaining about the high-and-mighty stepping on us "normal people" has usually centered on the idea of inflicting hundreds of paper cuts and then spraying them down with lemon juice. One of the girls I chatted with had suggested grapefruit juice instead. I had to admit that I liked how evil this sounded.
So perhaps there is a reason for people of high intelligence to get the tag of "evil genius" ... but, really, I suspect it is reactive. Life has all kind of challenges we must face ... and, oddly enough, I think this put those of us the predators considered as prey ahead of the predators, themselves. Consider the degree of situational awareness you have to acquire when you've got pneumocephalic morons eager to inflict emotional pain surrounding you.
So, there I was, the day my life changed, going in to gym class as the last period of the day.
Heinlein had once described Military Bureaucracy in his novel "Glory Road" with the concept of three key departments: The "Practical Joke" department, the "Surprise Party" department and the "Fairy Godmother" department. Obviously our local school board preferred to only have two out of three of these, with "Surprise Party" as the key with "Practical Joke" providing input. These must have been the folks who mixed as many non-jocks with the sports team jocks into the last gym (P.E. to the folks making the effort to be politically correct) period of the school day which segued into team practice times. I suspected that one reason for this was to give the jocks as many victims for them to abuse merely to bolster their delusions of superiority and provide "confidence" to those too stupid to have any doubts.
If anyone has any doubts about the Dunning-Kruger effect just look at any high school sports team; While there will be some exceptions, they are not anywhere near the center of the bell curve.
For some time I had wanted to find the computer used for this scheduling and ... ummmm ... tweak the code. Actually, since I was still only a computer user and not a programmer or hacker or whatever the word for magician is these days I would need to find someone who could twiddle the bits for me.
There was no doubt that on days where the abuse was, to me, heavier than usual, I would prefer Zaphod's way to re-program a computer: with an axe.
So, on this warm October day, we were instructed to not dress out and were marched out of the building to a nearby under-utilized shopping center where only the shoe shops were still open, and, away from the row of stores, in a corner of the parking lot, stood a forlorn cluster of pushed-together trailers with a sign over the entrance reading "CAP Testing Centre".
Yes, here in the ol' USA someone hadn't chosen to use the US English spelling for "Center". Some things you just can't make up and this little shock was a quick way to deflate my enthusiasm and lower my expectations. I had believed that CAP testing had an "intelligence" portion, but, given that sign, I suddenly had my doubts. This kind of called into question whether the people in 'Average Joes' with high CAP scores were faked or that CAP scores, themselves, bullshit.
Now our little march to this site included an aspect that I rather enjoyed: the girl's gym class, marching along with us. I noticed three of the girls that I was comfortable talking to, and, when I waved to them, they waved back. What was even better than just the wave were the smiles I got. I could not help but smile back at them.
While I was glad that we boys didn't have to dress out for gym class there was a part of me that would have preferred to see the girls in their gym outfits, but, then, dammit, I had to admit that it was only fair this way.
Maybe I am a drooling pubertal idiot, after all. Some of my class-mates made comments about the girls and chuckled over it. In hindsight I recognize that it was a good sign that I was heterosexual.
Remember how I told you that I was the "runt" of the class? Being almost fourteen my growth spurt had only barely begun and my height was up to five three (I am not converting that to metric for those of you who aren't tolerant of backwards Americans) and I had only recently shot past one of the girls I usually talked to, Petra. And, if you must know, Petra was the clever wag who proposed the use grapefruit juice.
I had also recently gotten to be almost as tall as another girl I talked to, Kimberly, but, being realistic, I was still the shortest boy in the whole of the senior class just as Petra was the "runt" of the girl's class.
So, being the runt, I was used to being pushed to the rear of any line and ended up at the tail end of the boy's line on this day, too. With forty-four of the forty-eight booths available for our two classes, the remainder for other walk-ins, I didn't think we were in for a short wait.
Oh ye of little faith. It seemed that quite a few of the student body, especially the jocks at the head of the line, got through more quickly than I expected, usually in thirty minutes. Some were in much longer. A few seemed to only take five minutes though they must've been in longer. I think I can blame my distorted sense of time on the company I was keeping.
With the time available to mill around and watch the others I got to chat with Kim, Petra a bit and even Sue, once she sat down so the rest of us wouldn't get neck pain looking up to her. We watched a lot of the activity and drifted back close to each other each time the teacher's assistants looked away from us after trying to keep us apart and isolated.
.... There is more of this story ...