We finally did it! Our Wednesday night trivia team persevered through the twists and turns of trivial competition and wound up winning the final question about airport abbreviations to finish with 45 points, just one thin point ahead of our closest competitors, the hated Flying Squirrels. They are a bunch of teachers, I think, with broad coverage of many subjects. They usually win, but not last night. No way, baby. We, the Snarky Sharkies, prevailed. For one glorious moment we are masters of useless information. The thrill was ephemeral, though, as if we had won the bubble blowing tournament for Bazooka Bubble Gum with a 14 inch pink bubble of hot exhalations. Yes, and then it was over. Pop!
“We’re not going to Disney World. We’re not going to Hollywood either. We’re just going home!!! ”
Not sure why it’s briefly exciting to win a competition about things that have little meaning or application in real life. Well, no, the brief satisfaction is like killing flies in your kitchen in July. The annoying buzz and blur ends. Silence reigns again. Nonetheless, I find it fascinating how we arrive at answers via associations with emotions or parallel memories.
For instance, one question went something like this: a shiny fish; also a process of extracting (metal) from its ore by a process involving heating and melting. Well, I did my mental scan, which lead me to the old white Frigidaire refrigerator in my parents’ narrow kitchen that I wallpapered in vinyl blue and white floral paper with one ugly blue wall behind that helpless fridge, forced to accept the desperate decor of that kitchen. Inside the meat drawer in a plastic wrapped Styrofoam tray I could see little shiny fish my father used to eat on rye bread with horseradish. What were they called? Not sardines, though he also ate those. They came in a flat square can with a key that unrolled the top. Not anchovies, or fish bacon as I recall them; he ate those on pizza. Ummm. What were they called? From the ether that separates time and space, it came to me: Smelts. That’s it.
I used to feed them to my black cat Stanley. He was a stray with a white chest badge and white body hair where men have hair. I persuaded him to follow me home from the playground one day. He was a muscular brute who a few years later was hit by a car on The Parkway during the winter. I remember the season because the ground was hard and I could not get all of Stanley buried behind the rose of Sharon bushes at the back of our yard. Suffice it to say that Stanley waved one frozen paw at our kitchen window till spring. Eventually nature lowered his salute into worm food.
Trippy stuff. The mind is a powerful engine with limitless powers, so it seems. Question 10 of Round 1 had to do with television: her career was launched in the 1990’s though the show she starred in, My So Called Life, lasted only one season. I could instantly envision my oldest daughter watching this t. v. girl struggle with growing up in the 1990’s. Our television screen was maybe 19 inches and sat upon an end table at the intersection of two identical pink and blue brocaded couches we special ordered from North Carolina and have since gotten rid of. Erin would lie on her stomach and stare from 32 inches away at Angela Chase, a 15 year old girl in Pittsburgh. It was compelling drama. Across the void of 25 years her name came to me, Claire Danes. How? I have no real idea except I loved my daughter and she loved Claire Danes a long time ago. I whispered my answer to my new son-in-law Zach. He was stuck on two female leads from movies made in the 1990’s, certain that the answer was one or the other. “Okay”, I said, “but neither of those is right”.
“It’s either Jennifer Love Hewitt or that other girl…Melissa Joan Hart. But which one?”
I was overridden but not swayed. When Claire Danes came up as the official answer, I was just feeling the warm pulse of my daughter’s memory flow across my heart.
What else? you ask. On 13 May 1897, this Italian inventor sent the world’s first ever wireless communication over open sea across the English Channel. Well, the only Italian inventor I could imagine who fit the time frame and the task was Marconi, but I first thought “macaroni”, which is also Italian. As the names came rolling in, I was amazed at their futility– Da Vinci, Tesla (not even Italian), Gucci, Alexander Graham Bell (also not Italian) and Samuel Morse (a.n.I.). I began to hope that the curse of stupidity had landed on another table. ‘Drink strong beer’ was the message I tried to send out telepathically, sort of like Marconi without any wires or cables.
I don’t know if anyone else in the bar picked up my signals, but I cannot be sure that they didn’t. After all, I was elected president, I mean, we won the electoral college of triviality. And Crooked Squirrely lost. So I must have a high I.Q. and be, like really smart. Right? In fact, over the half time interim, I walked outside to save a cat from a storm drain. No one witnessed my bravery, but that’s okay. Fake news outlets would only pillory my heroism. Which leads right in to the “dilly dilly” question that everyone got right. What White House employee just had his secret clearance downgraded? The correct answer as you know was/is Jared Kushner. Talk about awkward.
But I have a thought: what if all the recent expatriates from the White House got together and formed a trivia team? Hope, Jared, Mike, Moochi, Spicey, Flynn, Omarosa, Bannon, Price, Priebus, oh crap! There’s a limit of eight per team. Maybe they could sub out every other week. What else do they have to do but testify?