Monday, July 19, 2010

Pursuing Trivia

by Lorraine C. Brooks, MPH, CEAP

I recently read an article about Alzheimer’s Disease.  The article stated that research is being done which supports a theory that some forms of memory loss may be lessened if we begin to stimulate our brains when we are in our 40s and 50s, rather than waiting until the memory loss is more likely to be irreversible.  Apparently there is reason to believe that if you fuel your brain and keep it active, it will remain healthy longer.  Sort of like regular exercise.  I called my friend Liz to tell her this great news. Or was it Toni?  No, it was Liz.

“Liz, I have an idea. You know how we’re always saying that we can’t remember anything?  Well, I just read this article that says we have to give our brains regular exercise, you know, like with muscles, so they won’t atrophy.”

“Who is this?”

“Liz, it’s me. Lorraine.  Remember, we went to college together?”

“Oh yes…of course. But what’s all this about our brains and our muscles?  Didn’t I get a bicycle when you were into biking?  Didn’t I buy a catcher’s mitt when you decided that we should compete in the softball toss at the school reunion?   I still have that mark on my chin from the stitches.  Remember when we went to that Richard Simmons ‘Sweatin’ With the Oldies’ convention?  Little did we know that the ‘oldies’ he was referring to was US, not the music.  Remember that we couldn’t sit down for a week?   I have a closet full of fitness tapes, and I still weigh 200 pounds. Now you are actually suggesting that we need to exercise our brains?  I think I’ll pass.”

“No, no, listen. I read this article that said we need to use our brains more while we’re still young enough to remember things.”

“Have you looked at a calendar lately?  I think it’s too late.”

“Come on, Liz, let’s at least try this.  Maybe we should start to stimulate our brains NOW, so that we can postpone anything.  I was thinking about a game of Trivial Pursuit this Friday.”

“OK.  I guess I’ll try it.  I have nothing else to do anyway.  At least nothing I can remember.”

On Friday night, myself, Liz, and four other friends gathered at my house for a game of Trivial Pursuit.  In order to make it somewhat competitive, I chose the “Baby Boomer” edition, figuring that we had a chance to get some of the answers right without too much trouble.  This would bolster our egos, and also exercise our brains at the same time.  Simply brilliant, I thought!

We formed 3 teams of 2.  My partner was Eugenia.  Eugenia was smart (she is a social worker), so I figured this was a good coup.  My team had a pretty good chance of winning. After all I was the host, so I didn’t want to look bad.  Liz’s partner was Mattie, and Toni and Cheryl were the third team.  

Toni and Cheryl went first, and landed on “Television”.

“Who was the first star of the show ‘Larry’s World’?”

“OK, I know this”, says Cheryl.  “Give me a second. I know he was married to that woman who starred in that show about the husband with the 3 disabled know who I mean.  She did that commercial for that shampoo that made you sing in the shower…”

“Yeah, I do.  He was also in that movie with the guy who broke his arm in that accident on the set, and they had to replace him with that other guy who had that game show where people had to do all these crazy stunts with people they didn’t know…”

“Riiiight...he was diagnosed with cancer and then he made a miraculous recovery after going to Mexico for some alternative treatments with coffee grounds and yucca seeds. His son is a basketball player...”

“Oh yeah, that’s right.  And he is married to the girl who sings with that country and western group that recently sang at the White House…”

“No, that was that other group.  She plays the guitar, but she sings more pop stuff.  That song about platform shoes…”

“That’s who I meant! Now what is his name?”

“I know the name of the show, does that count?”

“No.  They told you the name of the show.  The question asks who HE is, not the name of the show.”

“I think I’m getting a charley horse in my cerebellum.”

“Me too.  Maybe we need to warm up first.”

“How do you warm up your brain?”

“Maybe pour hot coffee into your ears?”

“Come on now, let’s be serious.  Could we just focus?”

“OK, OK…back to the question.  What was the question again?”

“How many times did Babe Ruth strike out?”

“Oh, that’s easy. 1330.”

“Wait a minute. You know how many times Babe Ruth struck out, but you can’t answer the question, ‘who was the first star of Larry’s World’?”

“My son is a baseball stat freak.”

“Is he still seeing that girl you didn’t like?  The one with the tattoo on her nose?”

“No, my husband finally convinced him that she was a little flaky.  Now he’s seeing some chick who drives one of those little “green” things, you know, the ones that run on cow dung or something?”

“They don’t run on cow dung.  Don’t they use kitty litter?”

“Cows, cats…what’s the difference?  The point is, she’s green.”

“Must be the make up she uses.  I notice a little green tinge when I use that off-brand stuff.”

I sit back in my chair and wonder where it all went wrong.  I guess the important thing is that we were having fun.  After all is said and done, these are the women I will probably be sitting with in our rocking chairs on the porch of the nursing home. Hopefully we will still be having fun and looking back on the night we played Trivial Pursuit.  Or was it Yahtzee?


Lorraine C. Brooks, MPH, CEAP is a native New Yorker who is, among other things, an actor, writer, and producer of documentary films and videos.  Her works in progress include "Passion: Inside the Hearts of Women", and  the documentary film "Affectionately for Adelita: The Life and Work of Adele Geraghty".  She recently published her first book of poetry, Riding the Wave, BTS Books, 2010.  She is actively involved with Safe Horizons, and the Purple Ribbon Council, both of which assist victims and survivors of domestic violence. 

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