Sunday, October 30, 2011

History repeats itself, albeit not very accurately

History repeats itself, albeit not very accurately

I hate Virginia. Virginia may be for lovers, but I’m simply not feeling the love. That’s because it took me three guesses to guess the correct capital while my seven-year-old daughter quizzed me over dinner from her “50 State of America” book (which, by the way, has taken the top spot on my “Books I Hate” list).

“What’s the capital of Virginia?” she asked.

“Norfolk?” I guessed.

“No,” she said. “It begins with an ‘R.’”

Well that was sweet of her to toss me a bone, so I thought harder, trying not to waste this act of grace from my kind child.

Suddenly, a light bulb went on in my thick head. “Roanoke!”

She shook her head NO and I think I saw a little smile. She was enjoying watching her trivia-competitive mother squirm like this. Seriously, what was I DOING 25 years ago during my social studies classes?

“Richmond?” I asked more than stated.

“Yes!” yelled Lily overzealously, compensating for the fact that I was close to banging my head repeatedly on the kitchen counter.

She then asked “What is the capital of Canned Turkey?” Turns out she misread “Kentucky.”

She learned this behavior from her father. My husband Craig often passes time on car rides by asking us various trivia questions. One day in particular he asked us to name the presidents of the United States. (Lily made it through three rounds – Bush 1, Bush 2 and Obama - until she incorrectly guessed Martin Luther King Jr.)

Just to show off, Craig started asking additional trivia questions such as “Where was he born?” or “What was his middle name?”

So when it was my turn and I named George Washington he followed up with “Where was he born?”

I immediately answered, “The state of Washington,” but the moment I saw my husband’s face, I quickly backtracked and regretted my answer. His mouth hanging open, he simply whispered, “Please tell me you’re joking.”

Of course I was joking. Kind of. But not really. Okay, I wasn’t joking.

Sure, when I stopped to think it through, I realized that at the time of George Washington’s birth Lewis and Clark hadn’t yet headed west, in their covered wagons along the Mississippi River, on their way to meet Pocahontas. So yeah, I realized the error in my initial answer.

My teenage son started snickering in the back seat, but stopped immediately when I gave him my “mom look.” Yeah, he knows who feeds him.

Instead I attempted to divert everyone’s attention. “Look at the cows,” I tried. “How beautiful is that barn?” I asked. “Look, my arm blew out the window just like my mom always said it would if I stuck it out a fast-moving car.” Nothing.

All the president’s men continued to hold court in our car, much to my chagrin. The children, the same ones I gave birth to after hours of excruciatingly painful labor, egged their dad on to ask more questions, reveling in the fact that their mom doesn’t know everything.

So you can imagine how much I was enjoying the state capital game at dinner that same night.

I realize now that I need a game plan: Next time, I will be the one to name the trivia contest in the first place.

Tonight at dinner, I have a feeling we’ll be playing “In Which Jane Austen Novel Does This Line Appear?” followed up with a rollicking round of “Obscure Grammar Trivia.”

It’s sure to be a blast. Well, at least for one of us.

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