by Paul Niquette
Copyright ©1996 Resource Books All rights reserved.

trivia  n. Insignificant or unessential matters; trifles. 

His vest was embroidered with rifles and guns, ducks and dogs.  "It's easy to tell what you like best," said I cheerfully.

General Curtis E. LeMay sipped his drink and fixed me in his stare.

"Your vest," I blurted.  "It has, uh, hunting things."

Then 79, the WWII innovator of low-level bombing tactics owed a favor to the president of our flying club.  So there he was, surrounded by sycophants at our Christmas party.  He had just snapped a worn-glib answer to an earlier question: "Our guys won the Pacific Theater; the A-bomb was unnecessary!"

"You can tell what I like best, too," I said, pointing to my own vest.  "Spaghetti, Roquefort, -- "

"My wife made me wear this," he scowled.

The entry in my encyclopedia on General LeMay had reminded me that he was George Wallace's running mate in 1968.  I decided not to ask him about that.  Exactly 24 hours later, at another holiday gathering, there occurred a most extraordinary coincidence.

The host brought out a box emblazoned with the words "Trivial Pursuit."  I had never played the game, for which everybody else in the world seemed to own a passion.  "We'll teach you the rules as we go along," intoned someone with exaggerated cunning.  The first toss of the die coerced my token onto the color for history questions.

 Be advised, I have witnesses who will certify to the next part.
The host cleared his throat.  "Who was George Wallace's running mate in the 1968 election?"

Sympathetic groans from around the table.  "General Curtis E. LeMay," I shrugged.  All opponents suffered acute mental paralysis.  I cleaned up.

The ultimate -- self-referent -- trivia question: Where did the word "trivia" come from?   Answer:  From Latin, meaning, "that which comes from the street," from the plural of trivium, "place where three roads meet, public square."

One person's trivia is another person's treasure.  The Guinness Book of World Records is chock full of what some people have come to call trivia.  Not me, though.  Not since my listing in the 1978 edition as the owner and rider of the Largest Bicycle in the World.
Which reminds me...

A family friend, who put off having her first child until she was 42, expressed concern about the well-being of her fetus during a visit to my home.  By pure happenstance, my son, then 31, dropped by in the middle of our conversation.  He told the lady not to worry.  He squinted his eyes in concentration.

"Mrs. Ruth Alice Kistler gave birth to a daughter, Suzan, her first child, in Glendale, California, October 18, 1956, when her age was 57 years and 129 days, making her the oldest prima gravida in history."

"How do you happen to know that?" asked the friend.  My son shrugged.

Parents of teenage boys know the answer.  At age 12, boys acquire a zeal for world records.   My son was no exception.  He feasted upon numbers and facts.  He memorized the longest, highest, oldest -- in sports and space and size and speed.
"There was a time," I explained, "when he could have told you the page number."

"Two hundred nineteen," said my son.

"A waste of brainpower," the lady said.  "With all that trivia in there, how do you have room for anything else?"

My son looked puzzled.  "What else?" he asked.

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