Great. Another multiple-choice survey that proves we're all imbeciles.

First came geography. The average American identified Mexico as "a brand of gasoline."

Next was history. The principal cause of the Civil War was "humidity."

Now, here comes the Kinsey Institute informing us we are as knowledgeable about sex as your average eggplant.

Just what we need, another dose of inadequacy.

Nationwide, 55 percent of us flunked what the Kinsey Institute described as a "basic test" of sexual knowledge -- 18 short-answer questions. (Some men tested received extra credit for answering the essay question "What's Warren Beatty got that I don't?")

Exactly how do you flunk a "basic sex" test? Wear the cigarette and smoke the condom?

Sex isn't that hard to understand. The way my grandfather taught it to my father, and the way the guys at the bowling alley taught it to me was: Sex is best when it makes you feel totally ashamed.

The survey was released to tease "The Kinsey Institute New Report on Sex," due next month in hardcover; 544 pages of scientific smut, sort of a cross between the World Book and Penthouse Forum. (Here's an actual letter -- I swear it -- from Page 240 in the advance copy: "I'm a young teen facing a problem which concerns my parents' crazy theory about male testes. My parents think that my testes have greatly expanded, and think this is the result of my playing a wind instrument, the tenor saxophone. They insist I must stop playing. I don't want to go without the thing I love." And here's one from Page 11, probably from Emily Litella: "Why is the hair around the genitals called public when in a sense it is very private?")

The book will be hailed as the most significant social research in decades, and Kinsey will receive huge government funding to conduct another survey. That's the payoff in research: funding. You tell us how stupid we are, and we throw money at you -- proving you were right.

Having seen the test -- and flunked big time -- I have problems with some of the questions. Take No. 1: "Nowadays, what do you think is the age at which the average or typical American first has sexual intercourse?"

Apparently, they mean with someone else.

In my case it was 12. The same with all my friends, 12. In fact, every guy I knew in high school and college had his first sex at 12 -- usually with an older woman whose husband had been killed in the war.

I think this question is too general. I'm sure I speak for many fathers out there who think this question should be: "At what age will my daughter first have sexual intercourse?" And the correct answer is: "45, or over my dead body, whichever comes last."

I assume No. 2 was a trick question. "Out of every 10 married men, how many would you estimate have had an extramarital affair -- that is, have been sexually unfaithful to their wives?"

Do they mean, their current wives? Because what if they were unfaithful to their former wives with their current wives, would that count? Isn't that more like dating than an extramarital affair?

And what do they mean by an "affair"? An affair is a major event. A planned event. A bar mitzvah is an "affair," especially with the right caterer. Dinner at the White House is an "affair." But a roll in the hay after a few drinks at a college reunion hardly qualifies as an affair, when neither of us -- did I say "us"? I meant "them" of course -- when neither of THEM meant anything by it, and it just sort of happened, innocently; actually, they hardly remember it... .

The correct answer is: three or four.

I knew that. You didn't think I knew that? Of course I knew that.

No. 6 asks: True or false? "Petroleum jelly, Vaseline Intensive Care, baby oil and Nivea are not good lubricants to use with a condom or diaphragm." Correct answer: true. Maybe, but the Iraqi blockade is going to make it awfully tough to use the old standby, Quaker State 10W-40.

How about No. 7? "More than one out of four American men have had a sexual experience with another male during either their teens or adult years." Kinsey says the answer is "true." Where did they take this survey, in Leavenworth?

But the most irksome question is the last one, No. 18. True or false: "Most women prefer a sexual partner with a larger-than-average penis." (FYI: According to No. 17, "average" is, roughly, between a new Eberhard Faber No. 2 pencil and one that's already been used for some multiple-choice sex surveys; I can hear a lot of men out there whispering a grateful "Whew." I also hear a few asking, "How many surveys?")

Kinsey says the correct answer is "false."

This is the answer most men hope for. Not that you'd ever actually ask your wife the question. Because she might say, sweetly, "Of course not, it's fine once you get used to it after a few years." Worse, she might say, "I'd prefer a man built like a fire hose." Then, you'd have to kill yourself. (And believe me, there are men like this. One of the more humiliating aspects of being a sportswriter is walking into a pro basketball locker room.)

Unfortunately, 80 percent of the women I surveyed about this said emphatically that they preferred the larger-than-average kind.

One woman was kind enough to say, "What women really want is smaller-than-average egos."

Smaller egos? Who knew?

Hmmmm. O for 2.