I have a small confession to make:  I am addicted to trivia.  Pub trivia is one of my favorite things ever because trivia AND beer?  (And also maybe curly fries?)  It’s the perfect combination!  I like trivia so much that I participate in the annual trivia contest at my law school, which comes complete with little light-up buzzers and a bracket and everything.  It’s all very Scholastic Bowl, in a fabulous way. 

If I’m honest with myself, part of the reason I like trivia so much is that it gives me a chance to show off and feel smart.  Even though I excel at categories like “obscure Saved By The Bell references” and “Who in Hollywood is Married to Who?” instead of categories like “Great Works of Literature” or “Things that Have Happened in History,”  I’m pretty quick on the buzzer, and I really like the feeling of securing victory for my team by knowing the name of Corey’s girlfriend on “Boy Meets World.”  (Yes, that actually happened.  And I know at least some of you know her name, too.)

See, I’ve always been “smart.”  Not “pretty,” or “fun” or “crazy”- just “smart.”  (Cue tiny violins playing sad sad songs here.)  And while I think, truthfully, that I’ve gotten better at “pretty” and “fun” as I’ve grown into an adult, years and years of thinking that all my positive traits were lodged in my intelligence has left a powerful mark on my personality.  I really get my back up when people treat me like I’m dumb, to the point where I sometimes assume that someone is treating me like they think I’m dumb when maybe they’re just being normal.   I became really defensive if I perceived people making assumptions about me when they learned I was a public school teacher.  (Anyone who said “those who can, do, and those who can’t, teach,” even jokingly, in my presence was liable to get a heaping dose of sanctimonious anger.  I was really fun to be around in those days, let me tell you.) Trivia plays right into this- I can assert my cleverness by knowing random bits of things, without ever having to construct cogent arguments or write any papers or anything!  Plus, sometimes there’s beer!

Well, my law school trivia team took a nasty beating yesterday.  While we never had a chance to make it to the finals (there are some scary people here who are just waaaaaay too good at the history and law questions) it was still sort of a bummer to get beaten pretty much single-handedly by a nerdy 2L who appears to have memorized the Encyclopedia. 

Then, something amazing happened. I turned on the TV last night and discovered a show called “Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?  Hosted by Jeff Foxworthy, (who looks for all the world like he would rather be anyplace on Earth, including in the dentist’s chair, instead of hosting a show called “Are You Smarter than a Fifth Grader,”) the premise is a lot like “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire,” with each correct answer earning you more money.  But here’s the twist- unlike “Millionaire,” the questions on “AYSTA5G” are all elementary school level questions, sorted into categories like “3rd grade science” and “2nd grade astronomy.”  And instead of phoning a friend or polling the audience, there is a group of very telegenic fifth-grade-age child actors ready to help you out if you get stuck.

Sample questions:

“What star is closest to earth?”

“How many sides in a trapezoid?”

“How many decades in two millennia?”

I had watched almost the entire episode, squirming with delight and superiority that “this is so DUMB!  People are so DUMB!  I am comparatively so SMART!” before I realized that that is almost certainly the intent of the show.  It’s pitched right at people like me, who enjoy the feeling of intellectual superiority just a leeeetle too much.  Watching some genius get all the questions right on Jeopardy is fine, but rarely do I finish watching an episode thinking “man, I watching that really made me feel better about myself!”  This show, though, allowed me to smile smugly, thinking “Heh! I am such a genius!” 

Sadly, because “smugness” is one of my least favorite human traits, I’m afraid I am not going to be able to watch this show anymore because it just makes me too smug.  Which is a shame, because it was really lovely to have a nice, easy way to feel smart at the end of a hard day.

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