Trials & Trivia

My name is Andrew Stokes, and I am a recovered trivia addict.

A white blood cell is called a leukocyte.

My vice started when I was young. My parents purchased the regular gamut of children’s books, meaning to teach me about dinosaurs, science and ecosystems.

They didn’t know that they were creating a monster. With a wide smile, I would tell them about the eating habits of kangaroos, the egg size of a liopleurodon or the surface temperature of Jupiter.

The proper name for stomach rumbling is borborygmus.

They crowned me “The King of Useless Knowledge,” but to me, trivia was a prized possession. Jeopardy!’s Alex Trebek became my comrade, helping others learn.

Someone who writes crosswords is a cruciverbalist.

I joined my high school Reach for the Top team and rose through the ranks to be captain.

Charles Darwin’s ship, on which he explored the Galapagos, was called The Beagle.

At my family get-together on New Year’s Day I endured the mundane stories about births and marriages—because I knew that after dinner, we would play Trivial Pursuit. Everyone was calm, friendly; they just wanted to have fun. I was a racehorse at the gate.

Each pie chip I collected was an Olympic medal. I sat back, exultant, when the “game” was done.

Cousins grimaced and aunts glowered, and I caught a glance of myself in a mirror. I was faced with the twisted visage of one who has become drunk with a lust for particulars, details—information.

William Shakespeare had three brothers named Gilbert, Edmund and Richard.

I knew that I needed to change. I cut myself off. I forsook facts for concepts and ideas.

I realized that paradigms trump unconnected facts. Trivia was fun, but knowledge was important. I stopped caring about the length of batrachian hibernation and focused on finding out why frogs hibernate. I boxed up my almanacs. I bade a teary-eyed farewell to Mr. Trebek.

It’s been a long road to recovery. I no longer shout out a factoid when it jumps into my head. I don’t lose my cool in pub quizzes. I don’t sleep next to the Britannica. I’ve changed my ways.

Koala Bears sleep upward of 22 hours a day.

Mostly.

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