Letter from America.
By way of introducing this piece, I have to confess to a teensy-weensy, itty-bitty—minuscule, really—on-line addiction. Quite recently, I’ve been spending an inordinate number of precious waking hours taking Internet tests. Now, you must understand that I have always been a sucker for filling out forms. Why, even as a child, I enjoyed taking the same standardized tests that cause parents and teachers to moan, groan, and break out in rashes these days. (“Get a good night’s sleep and eat a good breakfast” constituted the only advice I took semi-seriously to prepare myself for such exams.)
Well-rested and filled to the gills with eggs and toast, I actually looked forward to wielding my twin, freshly sharpened, #2 Ticonderoga pencils enthusiastically as soon as I heard my teacher tell us to begin each section of each test, and not a moment sooner. These new on-line tests, though, are more abbreviated than those I sat for in my little Long Island schools, but probably reveal as much about me as those elementary-school exams did; i.e., precious little.
The Internet tests I take quite willingly, I have to reiterate, are easy; the questions consist primarily of clicking on a favorite image, most of which appear to have little to do with the actual subject of the test. No matter; some results are surprisingly accurate. So far, I’ve learned what type of tree I am (a willow), in what decade I truly belong (the 1960s), and what my spirit animal is—more about that one later. It turns out that the name my parents should have given me was not “Cara” but, instead, “Emmy Lou.” Well, butter my buns, honey child, and call me a biscuit! I don’t understand that one at all, although it does complement the results of the test in which I discovered that the American city I should inhabit is Nashville, Tennessee (home of the U.S. country music industry and, of course, the Grand Ol’ Opry, where Minnie Pearl reigned supreme and Elvis Presley was once told by the manager that he had no future in show biz).
Much to my surprise, one test concluded that I am “incredibly sweet.” I had hoped for “smokin’ hot” but I’m afraid nobody will describe me using those two words until the day I’m cremated. The deceased superstar I most resemble is Elizabeth Taylor, even though another test on the same website informed me that the hair color most suitable for me is blonde, which I most definitely am (even if my color is a wee bit—ahem—enhanced). Go figure. My living celebrity doppelganger is Beyoncé. Um, all righty. In a past life, I was definitely a Greek philosopher. (On reading that, it immediately occurred to me that philosophers don’t make much money, so I imagined that I supplemented my income in my past as a philosopher with a nine-to-five day job. I was undoubtedly the sewing instructor in Ancient Athens’ most prestigious self-serve tailor shop, “Euripedes, Eumenides.”)
While in an uncharacteristic devil-may-care mood, I decided to retake my past-life exam (fearing that I had not eaten a hearty enough breakfast when I took it the first time). The equally convincing result was that I had once lived the life of a Parisian courtesan. That didn’t entirely please me, so I took the same test a third time: Bingo! I was—for a brief period in time—Edgar Rice Burroughs! Well, now: That made perfect sense. I adored the Tarzan series when I was a child, and Burroughs DID die on March 19, 1950, just four months and two days before my own birth. (Presumably, my soon-to-be-reincarnated soul spent the months between his death and my appearance in the delivery room of the French Hospital in New York perfecting my chest-thump ‘n’ howl.)
It does puzzle me that, in one test, the type of house I should inhabit is a charming Irish thatch-roofed cottage—no surprise there!—but that said dwelling should be erected in the bustling downtown of Kuala Lumpur, where I should be walking (and, in good conscience, scooping the poop of) a Rhodesian ridgeback breed of dog, while wearing only Michael Kors clothing and singing along to the complete works of Justin Bieber. (Yuck to that last one.) Oh, and my Rhody should respond (tail wagging wildly) to the name of “General Fluffernutter.”
Whoa, there: I sense your confusion! (I am, after all, highly empathic, according to yet another Internet examination of my character.) The naming of my dog is the result of my selecting from a list the adjective that corresponds to the last letter of my first name plus choosing from a second list the noun corresponding to the first letter of my last name—another type of test entirely, but a type to which I subject myself as regularly as I brush my teeth, or bake a fruitcake.
By now, you have probably realized that taking these tests is a whole lot more exhilarating than undergoing colonoscopy prep (but not as exciting as having a bikini wax) and far less mind-numbing than snapping photos at the Motor Vehicles Bureau. Hey, taking these tests fills a void! But the best Internet tests are those that promise one an accurate intelligence-quotient (I.Q.) score. I’m here to tell you, my lovelies, that there is nothing more enlightening than finding out what kind of fool you are…or not. I encourage all of you to take an on-line I.Q. test—any on-line I.Q. test—right this very minute. They don’t take long. I promise.
(Singing Bieber’s “Somebody To Love” here while you take the test and calculate your score.) Okay…DONE.
So, do you agree with your result? GREAT!
Awww! You don’t especially relish the score? Then, hie thee to another Internet I.Q. test, pronto.
(Singing Bieber’s “One Less Lonely Girl” and waiting for you.) DONE.
Better results? No? Yes? No matter. Keep on taking I.Q. tests until you score at genius level. That’s what I did. When I had a slightly disappointing result from one of them—granted, it was the official on-line MENSA qualifier—I chalked that up to the takeover of my intellect by my spirit animal (mentioned above). Turns out that my inner jackass doesn’t give a hee-haw what I score on an I.Q. test, and that’s the truth.
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