This article appeared in the Detroit Free Press

A Really Bright Guy

April 14, 1997

Detroit Free Press Staff Writer

Anton Anderssen is a linguist, but he gets tongue-tied when asked which languages he speaks.

"Just European languages," he muttered.

German? "Yes." French? "Yes." Spanish? "Yes."

Come on. List them.

"German, French, Spanish, Russian, Portuguese, Swedish, Danish, Flemish, Dutch, Italian, Greek," he said in one breath.

He teaches German, French, Spanish and Russian, will teach Greek next year and is studying Celtic.

Anderssen, 36, lives in Warren and is a member of Mensa, a social club for people who score in the top two percentile on intelligence tests. That means a minimum score of 130 to 148 on an IQ test, depending on which test is taken.

These days, Anderssen is busy publicizing a Mensa convention May 2-4 in Warren -- although only Mensa members are invited. He's hoping the attention will get others to join the thousand or so Mensans in southeastern Michigan.

That's 1,000 brainiacs who sit around talking about quantum physics, right?

Occasionally -- but Mensa's calendar of events makes it seem the members do nothing but eat and drink. Restaurant names abound, and every Friday night is marked for the Bar Thing.

"There's nothing too terribly serious about Mensa," Anderssen said. "People tend to be bright, but don't take themselves too seriously."

Anderssen, a professor at Oakland Community College and in community education programs in St. Clair Shores, Madison Heights and Warren, is no exception. He's likely to turn up in class wearing a T-shirt with Mickey Mouse on the front.

He's got a bachelor's degree and a law degree -- and when he grows up, he wants to be a lawyer specializing in immigration matters.

His IQ tests at the genius level, but he's as reluctant to talk about his accomplishments as he is to list the languages he speaks. It takes badgering to get him to admit he:

• Put himself though Indiana University playing piano at weddings, though he never took a lesson.

"I can't read music," he said. "I just play tunes."

He's played tunes at the Detroit Institute of Arts, among other places.

• Will teach physics and introduction to calculus to gifted 10-, 11- and 12-year-olds this summer.

• Got certified by NASA to handle moon rocks and teaches a course called "Ask a Mad Scientist."

• Became a certified scuba diver last year. "I'm afraid of water," he said. "It was really hard. I have to work at everything like a dog when it comes to athletics."

• Runs a travel agency out of his home and teaches a course on bargain travel called "Cheap Thrills."

He treasures the friends he's made in Mensa -- but his best friend may be Charlie, his toy poodle.

"He's very friendly, has a very good attitude, very pleasant, anxious to please, doesn't yap," Anderssen said.

"And you know, poodles are the second-smartest breed."