I have a family member who used to claim he was the veritable king of useless trivia, and I think he’s right.
However, last night, I had a chance to be the duke of useless trivia (well, maybe the duke’s assistant’s assistant). How? Well, I was at a get-together where someone broke out ‘80s Trivial Pursuit (Totally ’80s). I won. The winning answer? “Max Headroom.”
Remember Max Headroom? Luckily I did!
Now I, and the other folks, were all children of the ‘80s. And by children, I mean we were actually children in the ‘80s. As we played the game meant to test our young lives, and missed question after question, I realized we were adults out of time. We were too young to take in the ‘70s, not quite old enough to remember all the ins and outs of the ‘80s, and too distracted in the ‘90s to actually attempt THAT version of Trivial Pursuit.
Think about that. Take that in. The great calendars move on and on, time ticks by and by…how much do we really absorb? Are we really tuned in to anything? Now, the people around that table last night are all well-informed folk with whom you can have a great conversation on just about any topic from art to music, to medicine to philosophy. But sure enough, question after question went by and we drew blanks in category after category. I mean, was I even alive in the ‘80s? I would have taken my oath on it, but now, I’m not so sure!
Of course, we didn’t miss every question. Some sample answers we got right? Terry Waite, Mask, Every Breath You Take, Ronald Regan, Margaret Thatcher, China, The Detroit Pistons…and many others.
But goodness! How humbling. I remember years ago sitting in a pub in Scotland playing the UK Edition of Trivial Pursuit with some other Americans. That was embarrassing, although our passports gave us a good excuse. Last night was shocking. There’s a difference.
Totally ’80s Trivial Pursuit got me to thinking about how much we actually pay attention. Do we pay attention at all? A game like Trivial Pursuit really drives home the point that, in addition to work, family, social life, and all the other things that crop up in our days (any years), there is so much else happening all the time. We are so bombarded by TV, movies, politics, sports, and technology that it’s almost impossible to take it all in. We don’t really care until we’re moving a little piece around a board, trying to fill it with pegs that represent how well we retained information from years past. Last night, it was all on the tip of my tongue, but submerged in the morass of the mind.
But folks, we’re not game pieces filling up with pegs. We’re real people with real lives and the ability to weigh competing goods and needs. There’s only so much room in the ol’ noggin for trivia. So, in retrospect, I won’t be too hard on myself for being a little light on memory last night.
And hey, as long as I can remember Every Breath You Take and Max Headroom, then maybe my memories of the ‘80s aren’t so bad after all…even if they are a little thin.