When we turned sixteen there were no Sweet Sixteen Parties. Instead, we got a battery of psychological, personality, and potential career tests at a local university.
When I was little, I thought this was very amusing, my older siblings being driven off on a Saturday to take tests. I had all the worries of the youngest child: none.
When I was fourteen, it wasn’t so funny. At fifteen, I waited for my sister who is a year older than I am to hear all about the tests. I leaned against the door jam of her room.
“How was it? Here, have some M & Ms….tests sucked, right?”
“Pretty usual stuff…. ‘What would you do?’ ‘How would you feel if…?’ stuff. There was a math section….”
We both rolled our eyes. We didn’t do math.
“There’s writing sections, too. Typical test stuff…Oh, but there are these drawings and you have to write stories about them.”
“Stupid sounding,” I said sagely.
“Yeah, well watch out, I got one of this couple arguing and there is a gun on the living room table. I made my story a mystery….”
My sister had always been a big fan of the mysterious, she went on, “Don’t mention ‘there’s a gun on the table.’”
“They’ll say your homicidal or something…just don’t. You’ll never get the same set of drawings I got anyway, so don’t worry.”
My sixteenth birthday rolled around and I was driven off to be tested. I wasn’t worried. Testing never bothered me because I have always had a solid “do my best and who cares” attitude.
I answered the questions, filled in the circles too carefully when I really didn’t know an answer and too quickly when I had the answer before I could finish reading. There was an ink blot test and then the writing about the drawings.
There was the drawing, just like my sister had warned: a woman sitting on a sofa, a man behind her. They were arguing. There was a coffee table in the foreground. On the coffee table was a newspaper and a gun, a gun kind of in the shadow of the newspaper.
I wrote a story about the couple arguing over what movie they were going to see. Dilemma: how were they going to decide with the movie section of the paper missing?
I liked the story well-enough.
Apparently the testers did not.
“Your daughter has a Pollyanna outlook on life. Although she would make a fine dentist, respirational therapist, or technical writer, we feel that her positivity and blind eye to reality might be a hindrance in the future.”