Things of trivial nature intrigue me to no end. I justify to myself that knowing Sonja Henie won three figure skating gold medals means I have a well-rounded intellect. But it makes me feel smart only when I’m competing against other trivia buffs over who knows the least important fact. I blame my parents, who, from the time I was five years old, made me watch Jeopardy and learn the ins and outs of Trivial Pursuit. I had to compete. I had to win. I had to know.
Knowing these pointless tidbits of information doesn’t necessarily demonstrate intelligence, only a love for knowledge. For example, I couldn’t tell you who Sonja Henie beat in those Olympics, how old she was when she won, or describe what she looked like. But the Sports and Leisure portion of Trivial Pursuit isn’t looking for any of that, they just need a name. Yes, some trivial knowledge comes from a love of broader subjects (for instance, my love of 70s blaxploitation films allows me to wax poetic about Rudy Ray Moore), but when there’s so much unimportant stuff out there, it’s tough to sink your teeth too far into any one subject.
Just a couple nights ago, some distinguished fellows and I swaggered our way to a Brooklyn-centric trivia night. I feel the four of us could hold our own in a wide array of subjects, but that night we were in over our heads. Struggle with the first few questions led to us complaining about their difficulty, which led to us putting our pens down, and then finally striking up conversation while completely ignoring the trivia master. The competitors in us were clearly disappointed, but when dealing with trivia, you have to know when you’re beat.
My love of useless knowledge gives me pleasure, but not as much as it used to. I love the competition, the feeling smarter than my opponents if I win, and the missed questions that I have to investigate afterwards. But it doesn’t really prove anything. I like to think that knowing trivial facts about many different areas means I’m well-rounded, but maybe that’s a trivial thing as well. Maybe we need to get a big game of Trivial Pursuit together so people can put me in my place. That is, if you think you can take me.