Saturday, February 21, 2015

Trivial pursuits

used to think I was smart. Not in the math, science and English sort of way … you know, the type of subjects that actually help you in life. No, my intelligence was more in the innate knowledge of “Gilligan’s Island” and knowing how many licks it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Roll Tootsie Pop sort of way. I used to remember the most useless pieces of minutia that you could possibly imagine. That was a while ago.

These days, an acute preponderance of overall ignorance has taken up residence in that portion of my brain. Where I used to be able to sing along word for word to the theme song of “Laverne and Shirley,” I now mix up which one is Lenny and which one is Squiggy. I have basically become a full-fledged idiot on all topics.

But evidently not everyone is aware of that. You see, my wife and I were recently asked to take part on a trivia team. I had never been to a trivia competition before and the only thing that I had to compare it to was my Senior Bowl team back when I was in high school.

I told the lady who asked us (my high school English teacher) that I would be less than useless if I had to answer the same type of questions that we used to get back in Senior Bowl. She said not to worry, trivia nights are much easier and that I wouldn’t have to know any quadratic equations. Following a period of practically no deliberation, we agreed to take part.

As my wife and I entered the trivia arena that frigid February evening, we stared into the cold, hard eyes of our competitors. They sat around circular tables filled with notepads, pens and pencils. Nobody said anything about writing stuff down. Nerves began to set in.

We soon arrived at the table where our teammates sat. The trivia team that we were asked to be a part of was made up primarily of high school teachers, or as I like to refer to them, people who know things. I sat by a lady who knows the actual difference between an adjective and an adverb. I sat across from a gentleman who knows the approximate timeline for when every U.S. president served in office. I would use adjectives and/or adverbs to describe these people but I probably shouldn’t and/or can’t.

One of the first rounds contained questions about history. Or maybe it was English literature. I’m not sure. Those two subjects are pretty much the same thing to me. During those rounds, I found out that the pads of paper were just the right size to doodle small squiggly guys screaming, “I don’t know the answer to that one either!!!”

I think it was the third round (out of 10) that was about movies and entertainment. I sat a little higher in my chair at this point. If I was going to be of any help to my team, it was going to be in this category. I was on the verge of feeling cocky.

And then the moderator asked a question. Confidence is a cruel mistress who leaves just as quickly as she shows up. She asked questions about all the wrong movies. I believe one of the questions dealt with some flick called “Gone With The Wind” or something like that. Out of 10 questions, not one had anything to do with “Porky’s,” “Navy Seals” or “The Apple Dumpling Gang.”

I was really feeling stupid at this point, so I got extra comfy in my chair and doodled away. Round after round went by, and I slumped lower and lower in that dumb old chair. I didn’t know anything about music or presidents or even sports. A missed question about March Madness (that I would still like to argue about) made me want to leave.

It was in either Round 7 or 8, a lady placed a folded piece of paper on everyone’s table. Evidently this was going to be a visual round. Great, not only was I audibly ignorant, now I was also going to be optically foolish. I leaned toward the doorway.

And then the piece of paper was opened. It was full of cartoon characters that needed to be identified. All of the teachers looked at me. I smiled and quietly said, “Oh yeah ...” With the help of Hank Hill, Scooby-Doo and Smurfette, I regained a small bit of my shattered confidence.

We didn’t win that night, but we did have fun. So much that we’re participating again this weekend. My wife and I are now nerds playing trivia games on our cell phones day and night. I’ve even broken out the Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader book that I got for Christmas. Trivia has become serious business in our household.

I didn’t answer many questions that night, but I would personally like to thank Captain Caveman for briefly making me a hero in my wife’s eyes.

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1 comment:

  1. In high school, while waiting for my weekly cartoon assignment from the school newspaper editor, I attempted to find out just how many licks it did take to get to the center of a tootsie pop. With all the determination I could muster I purposely made one lick, counted and checked my progress and did it again and again. I finally made it to the center after a long time, much longer than I anticipated. I don't remember the number of licks. All I remember is I wore a hole in my tongue that stayed with me until the next week.