In Pursuit of Trivia
I was walking up the Seward Highway with Danny Kaye the other day, picking up litter as usual. For some inexplicable reason, he had insinuated himself inside my head and was singing “Wonderful, wonderful, Copenhagen” over and over and over. To make it worse, he wouldn’t finish the lyrics.
For a quarter mile, that’s all he and I sang. Finally, he started inserting some words about “girl of a town…” I kept trying to add words about harbor lights, but he would have none of it. I was ready to start shrieking, so he twisted that rubbery face of his into all sorts of shapes and finally came up with “friendly old girl of a town.” That’s as far as we got before we reached Jerome Lake and red-haired Danny and Copenhagen were forgotten instantly.
I stood on the embankment overlooking Jerome Lake for a long time, spellbound by its perfect tranquility and the autumn colors reflected on its surface. So completely did the lake captivate my attention that afternoon, it wasn’t until I went out for a bike ride in the evening that I remembered my walk with Danny.
I’ve been thinking about memory a lot lately, the hows and whys and why nots. In fact, after I got home from my bike ride I pondered the enigmatic nature of memory during the ten minutes I wandered around the garage looking for the glasses I’d just taken off so I could slip out of my wet jacket and tee shirt.
I’ve been working on a theory about memory, something that has to do with a slightly skewed parallel universe where we also exist at this very moment. It would explain a lot of things, wouldn’t it? Especially if we somehow drift back and forth between these two places without realizing it. Maybe it was the other me who put those glasses in the jacket pocket, and this me who had to find them. Was it the other me who made all those stupid mistakes in my youth? Is that why I can remember something now and not later? Is that why I am so comfortable referring to my muse as a distinct entity, rather than as a spark of creativity that lies within me?
I’ve said before that I’m a different person when I sit before the computer and start writing, that something takes over my conscious mind and the words flow without my bidding. The problem with this theory gaining converts is that it sounds an awful lot like schizophrenia and multiple personalities, which are not things to be taken lightly or used in jest.
Once upon a time I used to be pretty good at Trivial Pursuit. A question would be posed and an answer would jump out of my mouth before I had a chance to think about it. Often I would be as amazed as the others playing the game. I would have no idea how or why I happened to be storing that information. I’m not bragging here, as this feat says nothing about my intelligence, only that my memory is crammed full of useless trivia that surfaces at the oddest times.
I have a trivia question that I’ve been asking people for years: Who played The Great Gildersleeve?
I refuse to Google it find the answer. Some day it will pop up, I know. In the meantime, I bedevil my contemporaries. Good ol’ Throckmorton Gildersleeve. They can picture him, hear his laugh. His name is on the tips of their tongues. They can almost feel the words coming out of their mouths.
“William Bendix!” yelled one.
“Nope, he played in ‘The Life of Riley.’” I answered. Someone told me the correct answer once. I’ve misplaced it again. Or, maybe the other me… Oh, never mind.
So while you’re lying awake trying to remember Throckmorton’s real name, Danny and I will be working on the lyrics to his song. Say goodnight to the nice folks, Danny.
© Sept. 2007, Gullible