It’s only trivia to trivial people?

Some people like to say that I’m full of it, but it’s not me — it’s just my brain that’s full of it.

Full of useless trivia, that is.

In my own defense, I have had more than half a century to fill up my head with useless information and I’ve done pretty well at it, if I do say so myself.

I do take exception to it being called useless information — although I have to admit that I haven’t really found much practical use for such things as knowing the winning and losing teams in every World Series back to 1940 (the Cincinnati Reds beat the Detroit Tigers). And that is before I was born, I’d like to point out, despite what my children might say to the contrary.

They have used me at times to amuse and amaze their friends by asking me who was in the World Series the year they were born (Ethan — the Milwaukee Brewers lost to the St. Louis Cardinals and Alex — the Minnesota Twins beat the St. Louis Cardinals). At least, I’d like to think the intent was to amaze and amuse their friends and not to demonstrate what a dweeb their father was — or is.

I can also recite from memory every U.S. President in chronological order (from Washington to Obama), and every state in alphabetical order (beginning with Alabama and ending with Wyoming), which I daresay is not something everyone can do — or would even want to.

The last two I memorized out of sheer boredom the many times I would drive through the night on family trips while everyone else in the car was sleeping. I had to do something to keep myself awake, so memorizing the presidents and the states — as well as the alphabet backwards (Z to A) — was one way to do it. And no, me reciting any of those lists was not what put everyone else in the car to sleep, thank you.

Indeed, I daresay most of the trivia stuck in my head was put there voluntarily, of my own volition, and not as the result of my formal education at any level.

In fact, most of the things I had to memorize for classes in my earlier years has long since fled my memory — squeezed out, no doubt, by all the stuff I’ve put in there on my own.

For instance, in the third grade our teacher had the entire class learn all three verses to “The Star- Spangled Banner” — admit it, you thought there was only one verse, right?

We sang it as a class at the start of the school’s spring concert that year, then we all promptly forget the second and third verses the moment we walked off the stage.

All right, I still remember the Pythagorean theorem (the square of the hypotenuse is equal to the sum of the squares of the sides of a right triangle — but don’t ask me what the hypotenuse is), but there’s a lot more I’ve forgotten since my school days.

I like to think that the stuff I’ve memorized over the years is more fun than that, like the opening to the old “Superman” television series (Faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a rushing locomotive, etc.).

As I said, I still haven’t found a way to make all of that useless information pay off in any way — Alex Trebek and “Jeopardy!” still haven’t called me yet.

I do have to say that I’m not alone in this proclivity for inanity (there’s at least a few vocabulary words I still remember).

For instance, I have an older brother who takes great pride in doing the Sunday New York Times crossword puzzle every week — in ink (and what’s worse, he does it right).

He’s also the same one who memorized the word supercalifragilisticexpialidocious backwards (souicodil — oh forget it, even I’m not that crazy!).


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