Vol. 12, No. 3,009 - The American Reporter - October 19, 2006



Hominy & Hash
NOTHING TRIVIAL ABOUT TRIVIAL PURSUIT

by Constance Daley
American Reporter Correspondent
St. Simons Island, Ga.

Printable version of this story

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. -- In case you've ever wondered what we really do on a rainy night in Georgia, listen in. After a few days of the holiday weekend spent trekking to fireworks, fighting the traffic, shaking sand out of our shoes, raiding the refrigerator, and, the younger of the family members visiting having their diapers changed, we just sat around and talked about trivial things, past and present.

Someone suggested the board game Trivial Pursuit to keep our late evening conversation flowing and the conviviality we all loved so much going as well. The game served its purpose but let me tell you, it's just not fair. Tom was asked "What discount department store has a big red target as its Logo?" Duh!

I was asked, "What was successfully banned in Boston in 1845?" How should I know? I wasn't there. I couldn't even guess but assumed it was some book. The answer was one word: "Bathtubs." It was enough to make me race to research the reasons but was convinced it was too trivial to bother. The game is comprised of common knowledge and obscure facts. It's nothing anyone really needs to know about.

What's it going to matter a hundred years from today? I've said that. It reduces circumstances both dire and fortunate to the passing moment and not something that will remain the same forever. Here we were talking about bathtubs in Boston 157 years after the ban.

We moved on to "What are the first five words of Lincoln's Gettysburg Address?" Four-score-and-seven-years, counted out on the five fingers of one hand, was shouted down with, "Wrong!"

"What do you mean, 'Wrong?' Four score is two words."

But, it didn't fly. The card says "Fourscore and seven years ago." Out came the dictionaries, the historical records, famous speeches, the Internet, and every other source we had. Every one of them pointed to fourscore, one word. "Let's move on," we chorused. The person with the penchant for perfection yielded and we went on with the game. And yet, it wasn't over. The next morning I found a copy of the Gettysburg Address in Lincoln's own hand: "Four score and seven years ago ...."

According to modern day experts, Lincoln was wrong, although no one said so. Our player was right, however, and, after all, it was Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, not Webster, Random House or Yahoo.

When I think of something trivial, I think of something insignificant in the larger scheme of things. But, it appears what is trivial to me may be of utmost importance to someone else. An example that comes to mind is the scene when Carroll O'Connor as Archie Bunker was trying to convince his son-in-law, Mike Stivic, played by Rob Reiner and called "Meathead" by Archie. Archie gives Mike a swat in the head saying "What are ya doin' Meathead? You don't put on a sock and a shoe and then the other sock and shoe. Foist, you put on a sock and then the other sock and that way both feet are covered if you have to run out in a hurry."

"But, Arch," says Mike trying to reason, "if you have on a sock and a shoe, you can hop out the door in case of fire without burning your feet."

Well, the argument went on about a sock and a shoe versus a sock and a sock, then a shoe and a shoe, until they both were dressed ... and no one could tell who did what and in which order to get that way.

Trivial? Sure. Worth anyone's time? Probably not. But as I look back on heated debates in my life, and leaving aside the game of the same name, some of my happiest times have been in trivial pursuits.

Copyright 2006 Joe Shea The American Reporter. All Rights Reserved.

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