that trivia boy
March 6, 2002 11:25 AM

It is very easy for me to find myself consumed by minutiae.

Not necessarily the quotidian things like how I ate, dressed, slept. More the quibbling over details. I am one of those people who will remind you of things like you can't really breathe into your belly (lungs aren't there) and sitting and thinking really is and action (literally and chemically speaking).

I worry sometimes that I'm that kid.

Everyone has met that kid. He's the one who makes up spurious information to trick you into admitting you don't know. He's Albert Brooks in Broadcast News. He's all details, and will not accept the general meaning of what you just said. He has to dissect it.

That kid is frustratingly funny. You have to laugh when he exposes others, not just for the exposure, but for the absurdity of his attention to detail. It's so pointless, and there's something about pointlessness that simply makes you laugh [cf. Samuel Beckett].

I'm not that kid, really. I've just been that kid before, when I knew those kids and a little of their that stuck to me.

I knew two boys when I was ten(ish). One of them like wrestling and the military and had that ten(ish)-year-old's fixation with being a gender role. He had friends who were boys, mostly, and they talked about things I didn't know. The other boy was priggish, played the french horn, I think (somehow this typifies him), and because he was the clever one, I liked him better. I remember all being camping and the latter boy quizzing us on what books we read. Boy the first, likely thinking this unmasculine, abstained, but I relied on being well-read and smarter; it was who I was, and I had to rise to the proverbial occasion. He made up some book (I think it was a fictitious Katherine Patterson novel, fitting for fifth grade) and challenged me into lying that I had read it. He was that sort of boy.

I met him again later and couldn't understand why I liked him. He was boring.

I knew two boys when I was sixteen(ish). One of them was glib and effeminate. He had a strange name and a talent for making other boys feel stupid. [He also had questionable religious beliefs, but that was disregarded. I knew a lot of people whose beliefs might be considered questionable and figured there, at least, I was not one to judge.] The other one was reserved, hesitantly sensitive, boyish and well-liked and young and only outspoken about being conservative. I dated the first one.

Not surprisingly, I shortly stopped dating him. He was not only boring, but believed many things I found offensive. Also, he was something of a jerk.

I had a habit of liking that kid. It wasn't the "bad" boys that the stereotypes tell you women like. It was the boys who talked, who made themselves seem brilliant when they were just articulate. The ones who molded words into a sense of superiority, which they could loan you for a moment.

I quit that habit, more or less. The men I know are clever, but they exchange words rather than just shooting them at you. They synthesize the two boys, projecting that intelligent light and belonging to that secret world of the other gender.

So I've evolved. I guess. Still, when I start thinking in trivia, I wonder if I'm not still that kid.

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