Truth in trivia

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I’m a self-proclaimed nerd. Always have been. And one of the things most of us nerds have in common is a love of trivia.

But trivia is not just frivolous facts. There’s plenty of truth in trivia – valuable lessons to be learned. This week I revisited a fun little trivia book by author David Hoffman that has been sitting on my bookshelf for years. It’s called “I Never Knew That,” and I’ve pulled three examples from it to illustrate this point.

Truth: The fuel to keep going sometimes comes from unlikely sources.

Have you ever driven with the “low fuel” indicator light on for a little too long? Then you realize you might not have enough left to make it to the gas station. I’ve done it plenty of times and find that my spiritual life gets a boost in times like these because I pray without ceasing all the way to the fuel pump.

It’s too bad we can’t hook a sheep up to the gas tank to remedy this situation. sheep-160041_640 (2)Why? Because “each day the gas produced by a single sheep could power a small truck for 25 miles. A sheep’s digestive process produces methane gas, which can be burned as fuel.”

The next time you find yourself praying your way to the nearest fuel pump, I bet you’ll remember that a day’s worth of sheep farts could help you go another 25 miles.

Truth: The thing you get ridiculed for may one day become the thing that makes you cool.

Some of the world’s most iconic singers are known by only one name – Prince, Madonna, Elvis, Beyoncé, Cher and Adele. One of my favorites on the one-name list is “Sting,” whose real name is Gordon Sumner. He was the songwriter and lead singer for the rock band The Police in the 70s and 80s before launching a solo career which continues today. One of Sting’s signature songs, “Every Breath You Take,” was recognized earlier this year as being the most played song in radio history.

But how did Sting get his iconic nickname (which in my opinion is one of the coolest in the music industry)? He got it by wearing a dorky shirt. It was a black and yellow rugby shirt that his friends and fellow musicians laughed at because they said it made him look like a wasp. waspSeventeen Grammy awards plus an Emmy, a Golden Globe and an Academy Award nomination later, I bet Gordon doesn’t mind a bit that his bandmates once thought he looked like an insect.

Truth: If your kid messes up, it doesn’t mean things won’t turn out fine in the end.

As the mother of three teenagers, I admit there are times when I and my fellow mamas wonder if these kids of ours can make it in the real world. What if they mess up? What if they get into trouble in college? What if their chosen profession doesn’t look like one that will pay the bills?

A mother named Henrietta had the same concerns about her kid back in 1922. Her son Theodor went off to college at Dartmouth University and was then caught drinking, which violated Prohibition laws of that era. He was then “banned from writing for the university’s humor magazine.”

But that didn’t stop the boy from writing. He decided to use his middle name as his pen name and even gave himself the title of doctor, which was “an acknowledgment of his father’s unfulfilled hopes that his son would earn a doctorate at Oxford.” green eggs and hamThe good news is that, even though he never got the fancy degree, it didn’t stop the kid from becoming the wildly successful and beloved Dr. Seuss.

So read your trivia, my friends. You never know what we can learn from it. I, for one, will read it in a box, and I will read it with a fox. I will read it in a house, and I will read it with a mouse. I will read it here and there. Say! I will read it anywhere!

Gwen Rockwood is a syndicated freelance columnist. Email her at Her book is available on Amazon.

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