A friend who spends time in winter in Florida said that he hoped that I could join him next year because there is a trivia night in some establishment where he goes. He is under the mistaken impression that I am still good at answering obscure, meaningless factual questions. I once was, but the times and trivia have changed. The bar I sometimes hang out in has a Tuesday trivia night. Usually I play tennis that night, but occasionally when tennis is cancelled, or I have some injury, I go to the bar and join a trivia team captained by the bartender. But I have become convinced that only those who are under 35 or 40 would know most of the answers. The trivia concerns TV shows or music or celebrities from the last twenty years, and I seldom know the answers. Hell, most of the time I do not even know who the people are being asked about. Almost none of the questions are about history or literature or geography. Occasionally, I do know an answer, but often bartender Brian or another teammate also has it. I consider it a good night if out of fifty questions I can come up with one or two answers they otherwise would not have. Worst of all, however, is when there is a question that an old guy ought to get, and they look at me, and I have that senior moment not being able to come up with something that I know is there, but it stays on the tip of my tongue. I could come up, for example, with “The Teenagers,” but could not retrieve “Frankie Lymon” as the singers of “Why Do Fools Fall in Love.” Trivia used to feed my ego because I was better than most. Now it makes me feel not just inept but old and inept. I only want to participate in a trivia contest if there is a chance that the correct answer is Bucephalus, Traveller, or Tony. That’s not the kind of questions that Trivia Joe asks at my local biergarten.

          When I want to feel special, I tell myself that I am one of the few people who knows that Tarzan lived in Wisconsin.

          In absolving himself, President Trump referred to it as a “foreign virus.” Do all viruses have a nationality? Would our government’s response have been different, or would the coronavirus be less threatening if it were an American virus? What kind of walls are being planned to keep out the illegal foreign viruses? Can a foreign virus get a visa to enter the United States? If that virus is here long enough, can it get a teeny, tiny green card? Does a second-generation virus in America get birthright citizenship? And by the way, nuclear bombs and other nuclear weapons were first developed in the United States. Should we refer to all nuclear weapons no matter where manufactured as “American nuclear weapons?”

“Power does not corrupt men; fools, however, if they get into a position of power, corrupt power.” George Bernard Shaw.

Are you, like me, surprised by how well Vice President Mike Pence has performed at those news conferences? Are you then dismayed by being pleased by a performance that any competent politician—any competent person—ought to be able to do? Are you then shocked, and a little frightened, by how far the competency bar has fallen?

He scowled at the barometer: “Will it rain?”

None heard, with all that pattering on the pane.

John Frederick Nunes

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