Sour grapes and a fine summer whine

August 5, 2021

Photo Credit: Carol Madigan

   My son and I possess complimentary fonts of common knowledge in a cognitively dissonant sense. Meaning, what each of us know is, in many instances, something completely unknown to the other. A good analogy might be that my font of knowledge is a mile wide but an inch deep. (Thus, someone to avoid at parties.) My son’s can seem at times to be an inch wide but a mile deep. (Someone, you’d find interesting at parties.) For instance, I will know that Lauren Bacall played opposite Humphrey Bogart in the movie To Have and To Have Not, but my son would know that William Faulkner wrote the screenplay. I envy his depth to the same extent he admires my shallow breadth. Which makes us almost perfect trivial pursuit partners, a team-up we had demonstrated successfully for years in a Christmas party trivia contest that would last into the wee hours.

Team Champagne

   So there was no doubt that the night we met up at a craft brewery on its trivia night during his recent visit here that we’d enter ourselves as a team. Or at least that’s the way I felt about it. He’s been a veteran of these beer soaked competitions, and, by the end of the evening, I was to learn what his experience had already taught him about sandbaggers.

   There were forty two questions, including bonuses of the most obscure origin. We acquitted ourselves quite well we thought, covering some pretty esoteric aspects of general knowledge. I pulled “Anwar Sadat” out of my butt, while Zack nailed a two-part Earth, Wind and Fire hit “September,” even getting the “September 21st” second part correct. We were cooking, in spite of him having to tell me to stop shouting out the answers for every other player to hear.

Sorry, but people with that depth and breadth of general knowledge are not slamming beers in a bar on a weekday night; they’re holed up in a research lab or in the Smithsonian on a federal study grant.

   We wound up with 36 ½ points out of 42, yet that only got us a tie for fourth. The winner had a total of 42 points. Out of 42 possible. Sorry, but people with that depth and breadth of general knowledge are not slamming beers in a bar on a weekday night; they’re holed up in a research lab or in the Smithsonian on a federal study grant.

testing our knowledge
Sometimes an inch deep meets an inch wide

    A quick aside. When I participated in weekend 10k races, there were always stories of a group of advanced competitors who cherry-picked their entries based on who else of their gifted ilk had shown up. If they couldn’t beat any of them, they high-tailed it to another race where they could win. All for a trophy that might literally fall apart in the passenger seat on the drive home.

   Zack said he’d quit on bar trivia, when it was clear teams were accumulating a base of answers based on a circuit of games with similar questions. And all for a $25 gift card they’d already drunk up by the second set of questions.

our knowledge about logos
Theres no way somebody knew both the capital T was for Tyson foods, and the blue/green wings were Met Life

   Forty two out of forty two, when one of the questions involved knowing where a “noble gas” appeared on the periodic chart? Others required a knowledge of Morse Code, English royalty and battery voltages from toy cars to real ones? Just what exactly are the odds of a physicist, naval communications officer, world historian and automobile mechanic hooking up for a few beers after work one night?

   As opposed to a father and son combo knowing that a numismatist collects coins and an obscure quote is from The Mighty Ducks?

   We closed out the night with the serene knowledge that, among the mass of humanity with above average general knowledge, we do know a thing or two about a thing or two.


Part of Family Fusion week – read more here!

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