Tuesday, May 24, 2011

RemembeRED: Becoming a Player


      This week's Red Dress Club's memoir prompt asked us to remember the games we played in our youth.    


Becoming a Player

       I married a player. No, not a playah, a player. A player of games: computer games, card games, games of strategy, board games and video games. Sadly, I am none of these things. When I was a little kid, playtime meant imaginary worlds for me. I would pretend to be a princess, a scientist, a teacher, or a squirrel. Yes, a squirrel. I liked games because of all those colorful pieces and dice and spinning wheels, but never wanted to actually play them. I loved my brother’s brightly-colored many-sided dice for Dungeons and Dragons. Of course, I loved them because they looked like jewels, not because they were part of a game. Games have rules. Imaginary play does not.
            There was however, one game I was obsessed with enjoyed. A game my otherwise non-competitive family played feverishly. Perhaps the only kind of game my husband isn’t a fan of: Trivial Pursuit. I loved those little pie shaped pieces and knowing the answers to completely random questions. Even though I ended up as a literature major and barely squeaked by my high school science requirements, my favorite Trivial Pursuit subject was Science and Nature. I spent a lot of time in National Parks as a kid so I stored up a wealth of facts about geology, botany and animal scat (that’s what park rangers and naturalists call shit). At ten years old I hadn’t yet started reading Thomas Hardy, William Shakespeare, or Virginia Woolf, but I knew igneous from metamorphic and coniferous from deciduous. Yes indeed I was an obnoxious know-it-all little scat.
            The love of useless knowledge runs deep in my family. We often joke that the most commonly uttered phrase in our house growing up was, “Did you know?” As in, “Did you know that you only use 10% of your brain?” or “Did you know chocolate chip cookies were invented in Whitman, Massachusetts?” or “Did you know Benjamin Franklin founded the first public library in America?”. I doubt many of us remember much from our math classes, but by God we know the first president of the Irish Republic was Eamon DeValera.
            I was never the greatest student in school. I was pretty bright, but I just didn’t work very hard. In my junior year I took Latin and barely passed. But much to my surprise I did remarkably well on the National Latin Exam. My teacher was dumbfounded. How could a student who couldn’t remember her conjugations do well? Simple. About half the test was trivia about ancient Rome.  I may not have known my es from my estes, but I knew the Roman pantheon by heart.  And I have Trivial Pursuit to thank for it.