Trivial Matters


I love trivia games. When Trivial Pursuit was all the rage, I couldn’t wait to try it. Thinking I knew everything, or at least 90 percent of everything (I was young), I was up to the task. The first time I earned a piece of my “pie,” my confidence grew. Unfortunately, I had to move onto categories other than Arts and Entertainment. Facts about History and Geography did not, as I had hoped, become easier to remember in the form of a board game.

However, my brother, Doc, is well versed in all things trivial; he reigns supreme as Master of the Trivial Universe. Unfortunately for the rest of us, he knows this. But, while Doc excels in information we can all live without, I know the important things in life. Such as the names of all the dwarfs that befriended Snow White. For years, Doc (my brother, not one of the seven little people), didn’t know there was a dwarf named Happy.

“I think that means something that you don’t remember Happy,” I told him. “Do you need counseling to get in touch with your inner child? Are you depressed much of the time? Do you find it difficult to whistle while you work?”

He didn’t accept my help cheerfully, of course.

When our family would gather around Mom’s dining room table for Trivial Pursuit, it was a meeting of the minds. In the case of Doc and his son Bowie, they were legends in their own minds; that apple doesn’t fall far from the tree of knowledge. And Mom knew quite a bit of facts, too; she had age in her favor.

Bowie started the game with gusto, thinking he could, perhaps, beat his father for once. But Doc always retained his crown. Oh sure, any one of us might absentmindedly put the phone in the oven or the silverware in the trash, but if we answered a question about England in 1848 or which composer went deaf, we thought we were Einstein.

Eighteen months ago, the world became a brighter place when I learned about trivia games I could play on my smart phone. Well, they call it a smart phone, but not once could it answer a question without my help. My new game was Trivia Crack. It sounded like an insignificant street drug, and I was ready to get high on knowledge. I initiated the game with friends who would be fun to play, making sure some were much younger, so I’d have a better chance of winning. I quickly discovered that people of all ages have a huge amount of useless facts rolling around in their heads. Eventually, I won. Then I won another. And another. With each victory, my need for the game grew.

Finally, I was ready for my biggest rival. I threw down the gauntlet to Doc, initiating a duel. He accepted. My palms were sweaty; my heart raced.

The games began, and I came out of my corner swinging. I blinded him with Science, my best subject, and thanked God for Art and Entertainment. But I was all over the map in Geography, and Sports would be a coin toss. Don't know much about History, so that would take a miracle. Just breathe and think, I coached myself. I was collecting characters, the equivalent to accumulating pieces of pie in Trivial Pursuit. I could taste success, and it tasted better than Dreyer’s Half-the-Fat Coffee Ice Cream, which is the most wonderful ice cream you can buy at the grocery store. You can do this, I told myself. Your brain is younger than his. Much younger.

Then, something new popped up on my phone during our game. What’s this? A “Challenge?” All the blood drained from my face. My friends had never “challenged” me during a game; a challenge is a series of several questions in a row. That sissy must be scared; he’s resorting to a challenge to try to steal one of my characters. There were six questions. If he were to answer more questions correctly than I, I’d lose a character.

I won the first challenge. Take that, you show off. Then, I won another challenge. It was magical. Even so, he came from behind and won. This scenario played out over and over.

But I persevered. My reputation as his mental equal, or at least his random-fact-recall equal, was at stake.

Then, the heavens opened up, all the planets aligned, and I beat him. Never one to gloat, I handled my win with grace and compassion. "Why didn't you show up for that last game?" I texted. Then I won another game. Then a third. At one point, I had won 28 games to his 22. We played every day. Stubborn pride kept us going, and I was reveling in my winning streak. By writing this now, it’s published for all the world to read. That officially makes it a part of history - the Trivia King was toppled off his throne.

During this Battle of the Brains, I got a call from my sister-in-law, Elly May. “I heard you beat him!” She was just as pleased as I was.

“Yes ma’am, I did. More than once. Is it driving him crazy?”

“Oh yes. He thought you must be googling for answers."

“He what? Like I could google in the few seconds I have to answer.”

“I know. He was convinced you were cheating.”

Being one to let bygones be bygones, I immediately called Doc.

“So, you thought I was cheating…”

You could have heard an IQ drop.

 “I did,” he confessed, “I was sure of it.”

“You didn’t think little sister knew anything, huh?”

I take pride in the fact that it took several days before the ever-dreaded fate came. All of a sudden, I glanced at my phone, and he had won. Just like that. I never got another turn, and my winning streak was over.

I’d noticed that his brain works better in early evening, similar to how senior citizens like to eat dinner early. So, I began initiating games around 9 p.m., hoping he couldn’t resist playing. He took the bait.

Again, we played. And again, he won. But this time it was a slaughter.

Of course, not having my sense of style, he gloated. “Just opened up a big ol’ can of whoop ass,” he texted me.

“Move over, shark bait; a killer whale is coming for you,” I replied.

It was on - a smack-down of epic proportions, on smart phones.

I had the lead in the next round, 5-0, before he took his first turn. “Guess you shook up that can up before you opened it, ’cause it just spewed all over you,” I texted after winning.

We were the Muhammad Ali and George Foreman of Trivia Crack.

Expectedly, he went back to his stealing ways, and I hit a slump that lasted longer than my victory days. It was quite some time before I could slay the beast again. Sadly, it was his turn to be on fire, and I was a lump of smoldering ashes.

Eventually, trivia gave way to not-so-trivial things going on in our lives. We put down our swords and had normal conversations again. Well, not normal, but conversations that weren’t divided into categories such as Geography, Science, and Sports.

But lately, I feel the need to escape daily responsibilities that demand my time. Too much seriousness is bad for me. I need some cutthroat competition to lighten things up. I must shake off the cares of this world and stress out over answers to questions such as, “Which animal has the biggest feet?” Or “How many members of the Partridge Family really played instruments?” Obligations will always be with me; there will always be time for paying bills and buying groceries and filing income tax returns and getting my car’s oil changed and taking a shower. I can take or leave those things.

But trivia is of the utmost importance. It's beckoning to me, “Come out and play.”

Let’s get ready to rumble, Doc.