The notes passed to me at church by my children usually fall into two categories:
The most popular is: “Daddy, can we go to Dairy Queen after church? Please?”
Second-most popular is: “I need to go to the bathroom.”
This one, delivered by my 10-year-old son at the start of the sermon, was a different breed.
“Did you know that in a town in New Mexico a dog was mayor for like 11 years?”
I silently laughed, and nodded that, no, I didn’t know that.
The next one continued the theme.
“Somewhere in Colorado, you can’t have an ice cream cone in your back pocket.”
The third note veered from obscure, small-town eccentricities.
“More than 117 women have been governor.”
Apparently, my son has been reading, when he hasn’t been memorizing college football statistics. And the mascots of every Division 1-A athletic team. And the capitols of every state. And… well, you get it. I do too, because that was me 30-something years ago.
I was, and am, an expert in expendable knowledge, the emperor of the arcane, able to deliver the starting lineup of every major league baseball team in the late ’70s and early ’80s, and ABC’s Tuesday night lineup of the same time period as well.
But all this wealth of worthless knowledge never paid off in any tangible way (except for providing this column topic). In fact, it was probably a hindrance of sorts. This proficiency never delivered any cash prizes, any awards, any girl, any job.
“What about that Robbins guy for this job?”
“Robbins? Oh, you mean Rain Man? The guy who recited every starter for the 1976 Cincinnati Reds in the interview, but wore mismatched socks and had a moth in his hair? I think I’ll pass.”
The problem with filling your brain with useless information is that it’s, well, useless, except for playing Trivial Pursuit, which no one will play with me anymore (I’ve never been beaten at the ’80s edition, for what it’s worth, which is nothing. See my point).
But, as I get older, I find that my brain no longer retains as much as it did when I was younger. My theory is that my noggin became filled to capacity in my early 30s, which, coincidentally, is when my wife and I started having children. I tried to learn something new a couple of years ago and immediately forgot how to subtract. This is why I refuse to learn anymore.
That’s my excuse, and I’m sticking to it.
This is where my son’s love of all things trivial is beneficial. Instead of learning anything new, or remembering anything old, I can just ask him.
“Well, son, the last time Georgia played for the national championship was in, uh…”
“1983,” he finished for me. “Georgia lost to Penn State, 27-23.”
“Yeah, that’s right. That was in the Sugar Bowl. When was the last time Georgia played in the Sugar Bowl?”
“2008,” he replied. “They beat Hawaii, 41-10. You were there.”
“Oh, yeah, I remember some of that.”
That’s not useless information, my friends. That’s useful. And knowing all those U.S. capitols will come into play one day in a class I can’t remember the name of right now. So there.
© Len Robbins 2012