When Mr and Mrs
Mediocre had tried for six months to achieve pregnancy and to no effect, Mr
Mediocre was submitted to tests, or rather, his sperm were. They were discovered
to be perfectly normal. When a further six months of strenuous copulation had
elapsed and Mrs Mediocre remained unimpregnated, she, or her ovaries, were
submitted to tests. They too were found to be perfectly normal. Mr and Mrs
Mediocre were distressed. An abnormality in either would have permitted
corrective action, but the absolute regularity of their reproductive apparatuses
meant that there was nothing to be done but to copulate ferociously. Poor
spite of the deprivation of professional intervention Mrs Mediocre at length
noticed that her monthly cycle was disrupted. She was submitted to a pregnancy
test whose positive result they celebrated in champagne. As her belly began to
round nicely she underwent further tests: blood pressure, levels of iron, scans
and an amniocentesis which revealed that the foetus was male and perfectly
normal. Mrs Mediocre's perfectly normal baby was delivered after a perfectly
normal forty weeks and a perfectly normal if prolonged labour during which she
and it were subjected to tests for delation, heart rate, ketones in the urine,
frequency of contractions, strength of contractions and immediately after
delivery the baby was weighed and manipulated by a paediatrician who declared
him perfectly normal in every respect.
Mediocre was not normal.
some time and a few thousand tests for it to be revealed, but it finally emerged
that little Johnny was below average! The Mediocres were heartbroken.
does it mean?" asked Mrs Mediocre of the bespectacled, smart-suited lady who sat
at the other side of the desk.
I'm afraid," the lady uttered in great seriousness, "that your son is and always
will be below average. He was conceived below average, born below average, will
live below average and die below average."
Mrs Mediocre burst
into tears and her husband put a comforting arm around her shoulders.
"But can't he live a normal life?" he asked.
"Of course," the lady expert returned. "Normal but below average."
Mediocres left the Regional Testing Coordination Centre and went home with their
below average son. As soon as he was out of the car he called for his below
average friend and played a game of below average soccer in the garden. Mrs
Mediocre watched as she did the dishes. What a pity he couldn't play an average
or above average game! When she called him in, he sat in his below average way
at the table and ate his below average lunch. Mrs Mediocre watched him and
wondered if his enjoyment were below average.
"Can I have
some more!" The boy cried when his plate was empty.
years went by the Mediocres grew accustomed to the idea that their child was
below average. Sometimes they almost forgot it. Then Johnny would arrive home
from school with his report and for every subject would be written, in so many
or not so many words: "Below average."
is average?" Mrs Mediocre one day wondered aloud to her husband.
"It's what our son's below, dear", he replied.
"Ah," she uttered,
Mediocres loved their child, of course, but they could never forget that he was
below average and in some secret place, they almost resented him for it.
He grew to
below average height, fell in below average love with a below average girl and
engaged in below average passion. He was heading for below average marriage when
something remarkable happened. Like all young men of his years and situation, he
was submitted to a Potency Test in order to reveal his Potency Quotient. This
was arrived at by measuring the length and circumference of the penis, weighing
the testicles and dividing the sum of the two figures by the square of the
distance from the tip of the erection to the belly button, which in turn was
multiplied by a number representing the curvature of the buttocks, added to the
logarithm of your grandfather's birthday and subtracted from the number of hairs
in your left armpit. To everyone's surprise and some people's horror, Johnny
Mediocre's score was above average!
be some mistake," said the lady expert behind the desk, gravely.
looked at the plaque which sat before her: Dr M.A.D. Tester M.A., M.A., M.A.,
PhD, PhD, PhD, B.S.A., B.O.A.C., B.M.W., B.S.E., V.H.F., T.S.B. Such a
well-qualified woman couldn't possibly be entirely wrong.
passed the test, fair and square," said Mr. Mediocre. "He has proven,
scientifically, that he is above average."
beamed with pride.
" intoned the lady expert, "mistakes can be made. A slight miscalculation here,
a small computer error there. I think he shall have to be retested."
exclaimed Mr. Mediocre in horror. "But if he'd been shown to be below average,
we wouldn't have had the right to a retest."
"Ah!" said the
lady expert, "but you are not experts."
Mr and Mrs
Mediocre were crestfallen. For a brief period the stigma of having a child
mathematically proven to be below average had lifted. They were able to tell all
their friends with pride that Johnny had a Potency Quotient of 210 which,
according to the retrospective calculations of the best minds in the field, was
twenty-three points ahead of the Marquis de Sade himself! But now they feared
Dr Tester spoke to
findings are correct, it will subvert the whole of our science. It is well
established that people born between five past three and ten to five in the
morning in inclement weather, on the first Friday of the month and conceived by
parents who have never earned more than twenty thousand a year, are below
average on every measure known to modern understanding. Something must have gone
wrong in the testing. What would be the point, after all, of tests which did not
produce the results we expect?"
Mediocre was duly retested; his penis measured in length and circumference; his
testicles weighed on the most accurate testicle scales available; the numbers
fed to the hungry computer.
was even lower that those which the retrospective calculations of the best minds
had produced for every British Prime Minister since Palmerston!
beamed with pride.
"We knew we
were right. Mismeasurement on the first test."
the computer print-out of the results of the second test to Mr Mediocre. There
it was, in black and white, confirmed by computer, incontrovertible. For the
rest of their days, Mr and Mrs Mediocre, like their son, his future wife and
progeny would live in the shadow of below-averageness.
And so it came
Mediocre married his below average love, produced three below average children,
lived in below average domestic happiness until his below average divorce after
which, little by little he lost below average contact with his below average son
and two daughters. His below average parents died, his mother first and his
father two months later and Johnny, retiring from his below average job to live
on a below average pension, declined into below average old age and died in his
turn, a below average death.
in his life was just as it should have been according to the statistics of the
best minds in the field. Dr Tester became a professor and was awarded the Gold
Medal of the Royal Society For the Testing and Grading of Human Potential, the
highest scientific award in the land. Thanks to her pioneering work some day the
entire population of the world will be graded according to seven ranks:
Outstanding, Good, Average, Below Average, Well Below Average, Poor and Complete
will be possible," she declared "to apportion goods and benefits strictly
according to scientifically determined merit."
She has recently
established the Centre for the Scientific Study and Appraisal of Human Merit, of
which, given her merit, she is, of course, the head.
Mediocre lies in his below average grave his below average body decomposing
through below average eternity.