HUCKABY: My serious obsession with Trivial Pursuit

Here's something that will shock you. The board game Trivial Pursuit was released in this country around this time of year in 1982, which happens to be the same year that my lovely wife, Lisa, and I were married. Time does fly when you are having fun.

Does it seem possible that the game has been around that long? I was immediately addicted to it and my friends and I would sit around for hours at a time, rolling the dice, moving our tokens around the game board, answering questions and trying to land on the spokes of the wheel so we could earn one of the little pie pieces to put in our thingamajig.

For a while we would have Trivial Pursuit parties at our house and divide up in teams -- men against women or couples against couples. We didn't do that long because if we had continued the practice Lisa and I wouldn't be approaching our 29th anniversary. Yes, Trivial Pursuit could have been the demise of our marriage. We haven't played Scrabble in years for the same reason.

I am just too darned competitive.

I don't care what game I am playing, I want to win. I mean I want to win badly. I will admit it. I am a bad sport. I don't like random games of chance because I can't figure out a way to gain a competitive advantage. If I am awful at a game and have no chance of winning, I won't play.

I could always compete at Trivial Pursuit because all of my life I have had a penchant for learning trivial bits of useless information. I learned it from my father. He used to sit around the kitchen table reciting all sorts of random facts about all sorts of subjects -- presidents, baseball players, geography, the Bible. If it was a random, useless fact, my daddy probably knew it, and don't even get him started on quotes.

He passed this love of useless knowledge on to me and I became a voracious reader, at a very young age, of almanacs and history books and encyclopedias. Yes, I would peruse various volumes of the encyclopedia from time to time, just to try and memorize a few facts here and there. (If you don't know what an encyclopedia is, ask an old person.)

Truth be known, having a wealth of annoying information on hand wasn't much of an advantage for most of my life. I never once was able to pick up a girl in a bar because I knew how many grand slam home runs Lou Gehrig hit or how many feet were in a mile or who the four presidents were on Mount Rushmore. I never got a chance to eat a free meal at my favorite pizza place because I answered more questions than the other oddballs in the room and most of the time my annoying collection of facts was, well, simply annoying.

But Trivial Pursuit changed all that and since 1982 knowing stuff has been pretty cool, at least in certain circles. The Trivial Pursuit craze swept the nation and spawned all sorts of copycat games. The shelves at Target are full of them. Not to be outdone, Selchow and Righter, the producers of the original game, released edition after edition after edition, and for a while I had them all. Genus, Genus II -- and I thought for a long time that I had "Genius and Genius II" -- and then the Baby Boomer edition, the Sports edition and the Disney edition. I quit playing the Disney game when my kids started beating me.

There is no way anyone could have all the editions now because there are more than you can say grace over. Whoever knew there was so much trivial knowledge to print on little cards and ask questions about?

And the Trivial Pursuit craze, now nearing its 30th year, is still going strong and has given birth to trivia nights at a plethora of bars and restaurants. My kids play almost every Tuesday night at Mellow Mushroom in Conyers, and more often or not, they win. And it has nothing to do with the fact that their cousin owns the place, either.

I guess they just turned out to be little pie slices off the old thingamajig. They grew up playing trivia games with me and when I couldn't get anyone else to listen to my little tidbits of useless information, they did. OK. I raised a trio of geeks. I'm proud of them.

But I don't play Trivial Pursuit with them anymore because after all that money we have spent educating them at the University of Georgia, they now know way more than I do -- collectively at least.

But I am about to have a little down time. Maybe I'll dig up an old encyclopedia and see if I can catch up.

Darrell Huckaby is a local educator and author. Email him at dhuck08@bellsouth.net. For past columns, visit www.rockdalecitizen.com or www.newtoncitizen.com.