Do you ever think about all the useless trivia you’ve got floating around inside your head? I do. All. The. Time.
I could tell you every single lyric to Saginaw Michigan, a country song released in 1964 by a man known as Lefty Frizzell. I also know the words to All About That Bass, 9 to 5, and Amazing Grace. Go figure.
Anyway, do you know why flamingos are pink? Their bright colors come from their diet. They eat a lot of pink shrimps. How do I know that? I’m not entirely sure.
What else do I know?
Well, I know that the ZIP in zip code stands for Zone Improvement Plan.
I know that Frank Oz voiced the original Miss Piggy—and the original Yoda.
There’s a right way to pronounce Samhain, and it doesn’t sound like “sam-hane.” It’s “sah-win,” for your information. While we’re at it, forte is pronounced fort, not FOR-tay. No, really. Do I pronounce it fort? No. No, I do not.
Gruntled is a real world. No, not disgruntled—gruntled. It means pleased. I’m gruntled that you now know what gruntled means, but quite disgruntled that the word gruntled is rattling around in my brain.
Supposedly cats can’t taste sweetness. It has to do with their genetics, but I know from experience that my cat loves sweets, especially whipped cream. I’m not entirely sure where to stand on this one, but I want you to know that I think about it. A lot.
What’s your favorite movie? I’m bound to know the most trivial facts about the actors from the star right down to the eccentric character actor who had less screen time than it took me to type that out. For example, the main actor, he was in another movie with another actor who is actually the brother to the actor in that one movie, you know the one, and that actor was married to an actress who performed in a TV show with the main actor from the first movie. Crazy small world, huh?
The fact that you still have that cool tattoo is all thanks to your immune system trying to rid your body of, well, the tattoo. Because your immune system, and specifically your immune-response cells, is so good at its job, that black cat surrounded by barbed wire you got on your bicep 20 years ago should stay with you forever.
Do you know about the creation myth? Well, there’s more than one creation myth, and nearly every culture/religion around the world has a similar creation myth that they believe… one involves a turtle. Maybe there is just one original story, but people twisted it up a bit through the years like an old game of telephone. There’s a lot more that is similar in the various myths than there is that’s different. If you want to get into it, we can talk more about this one someday. Right now, though, that turtle is taking up space in my head.
Oh, and beer isn’t vegan. Well, not all of it, anyway. Most beers use an ingredient that comes from fish’s swim bladders. Yes. You read that right. Fish. Bladders. It’s not uncommon for beer brewers to add animal products like gelatin or isinglass (the fish bladder stuff)—and Guinness especially is known to use this technique. I know, right!?
The Catholic Church declared beavers and capybaras fish so that parishioners could eat them during Lent. No, seriously. Hippos went the same route. Since they spend most of their lives in the water, they’re fish. Who knew? I know this has more to do with the Church’s never-ending quest to convert all and sundry to Christianity than science, and that sometimes, it’s just easier to let the newly converted have their hippo meat. Nonetheless, it was apparently an easy decision. Since they all swim so well, it wasn’t a leap to declare these animals… um, I mean, fish… worthy of mealtime at Lent.
Who even thinks about this kind of stuff? I do. Quite often.
Do you need someone to help you win trivia night down at the pub while we throw back some Guinness? I’m the queen of movie trivia—hit me up, and I’ll be there.
Were you wondering about that beyond obscure footnote that’s nearly been lost in the history of the world? I’ve got you.
Struggling with a crossword clue? Call me. I’m on it.
All of us stuff our minds with information of one sort or another, and most of the time, that’s seen as a good thing, right? Straight A students, engineers, mathematicians—there are plenty of people who need a brain full of facts. But what about when it’s stuffed with useless trivia?
I mean, don’t get me wrong. I am a whiz at trivia board games like Trivial Pursuit. Even the aforementioned pub trivia contests. You’d definitely want me on your team. But I’m not good enough to win Jeopardy. If I was, I would have won by now, and I’d probably be sitting on a beach somewhere instead of going to work every day. I’m telling you, useless trivia. Keyword: useless.
As it is, I’m just the crazy kook you might meet at a party who rambles on about Alan Rickman, the origins of Christmas, interesting traits about dog breeds, and hippo meat.
By the way, did you know that Johnny Depp is terrified of clowns? You do now.
I’ve been an avid collector of trivia all my life, mostly in the science and technology fields. But when it comes to people, nothing gets collected, even when I try. As a kid I was referred to as “the little professor” not only by other kids but by adults as well. Apart from his OCD characteristics, Young Sheldon of the sitcom by the same name is not too different from the young me. About the only time I was “popular” was at quiz events – everyone wanted me on their team. Even today, it’s too easy for me to start “info dumping” facts that are only indirectly related to the topic under discussion.
What I find fascinating about creation myths, and all myths to some extent, is how often they tell truths while at the same time being factually incorrect. I grew being familiar with the two creation myths in Genesis (yes, there’s two, not one) and several variations on the Māori creation myths, and the meanings conveyed in them. There was never an assumption that they were stories of real historical events, but instead they tell us something about our understanding of the world around us.
Then in Social Studies at primary school, we learnt of other creation myths from other cultures. I don’t ever recall there being a discussion on the historical accuracy of the myths, but I do recall discussion on how the stories might relate to the world view of their respective cultures. Mind you this was in an era when there was no widely accepted scientific theory on the origin of the universe – the Big Bang theory was just one of many that were being debated at that time. This may have allowed us to look a mythology from a different perspective – there being no “correct” understanding of how it all began.
I’m not sure whether myths shape a culture/society or culture/society shapes their myths. Perhaps a bit of both.
I love it.