Klostermeme X

Chuck Klosterman IV is rife with meme fodder. The Klostermeme series features these questions, my answers, my speculations on how Klosterman would answer and an invitation to the reader to answer these questions in the comments!

You are placed in the unenviable position of having to compete for the right to stay alive.

You will be matched against a person of your own gender in a series of 5 events – an 800-meter run, a game of Scrabble, a three-round boxing match, a debate over the legalization of late-term abortion (scored and officiated by reputable collegiate judges), and the math portion of the SAT.

In order to survive, you must win at least 3 of these events (your opponent will be playing for his or her life as well). However, you (kind of) get to pick your opponent: you can either a) compete against a person selected at random, or b) you can compete against someone who is exactly like you. If selected at random, this individual could be of any age or skill level – he/she might be an infant with Down Syndrome but he/she might also be an Academic All-American linebacker from Notre Dame. If you pick “the average human” he/she will be precisely your age and will have an identical level of education, and the person will be a perfect cross-section of your particular demographic – he/she will also be of average height and of average weight with a standard IQ and the most normative life experience imaginable.

So whom do you select? Or – perhaps more accurately – do you feel that you are better than an average version of yourself?

My Answer: OK. I hate competitions. I am notoriously unlucky in things that involve any sort of luck and I am completely un-athletic due to my gimpy knees. So in general, this is a very unfortunate situation for me. The events I will almost certainly lose are the 800 meter race (unless I am pitted against someone without legs and they can’t use a wheelchair) and the boxing round. I will most likely also lose the math round. I got an 1180 on my SATs. My verbal score was perfect. If you aren’t as bad at math as I am you can deduce how embarrassingly low that makes my math score. That means I absolutely MUST win the Scrabble game and the debate. I do have a slightly higher than average IQ, and am competent at word games so I definitely have a shot here.

Unfortunately, I must also somehow not suck at the SATs or the boxing round. It is possible to box successfully without using your knees too much. Running is all knees so it is a lost cause. I think my best hope is going primal in the boxing match. Having considered all these factors, and the fact that I tend to be pretty unlucky, I will choose the average human to compete against because otherwise I will probably end up competing against a teenage Olympic caliber athlete and intellectual genius.

Man, I’m glad this is a hypothetical scenario.

Klosterman Theory: He would choose the average human.



  1. I would choose the average man my age. I’m pretty certain that I could beat him at Scrabble, the debate and even the math SAT (though I do stink at math, I think most average 38-year-old guys stink worse). Probably the dash too. I’d most likely get my ass kicked in the boxing match, though. That would be a grim sight.

    The random thing is too risky. Pretty much anybody younger than me could outrun and outbox me, and many student-level people would probably outdo me on the math SATs. Older and wiser people stand a better chance at besting me at Scrabble and the debate as well.

  2. Wait- I don’t get it. Selection b) is someone who is exactly like you. Later he refers to selection b) as “the average human” he/she will also be of average height and of average weight with a standard IQ and the most normative life experience imaginable.
    What if you are below average or above average? Does this assume that you are an average person or am I interpreting this question wrong?
    Also, is an Academic All-American linebacker from Notre Dame the best he could do? Because I am pretty sure that football players go to Notre Dame only because they can play football.

  3. I’d take my chances with random human and hope for the retarded infant.

  4. You would probably be fine. You’re good at math, debate and Scrabble. You would probably win a fight if you’re life depended on it. You can be pretty scrappy and resilient.

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