Presidents, Pokemon and Patricia

President Chester A. Arthur

It’s hard to imagine yelling and screaming in excitement about Chester A. Arthur.

But a year ago, a table full of friends and I sat there, trying to remember all 44 presidents of the United States. We had only nine seconds left, and we had only named 43 of the presidents. Who were we missing?

“Chester A. Arthur! Chester A. Arthur! CHESTER A. ARTHUR!” I nearly jumped out of my seat. We did it – just in the nick of time!

What did we win? Only the glory of knowing that collectively, a group of American 20-somethings were able to name all the presidents. Totally worth it.

We were playing on the popular trivia website Sporcle – one of my favorite distractions. Sporcle’s trivia quizzes challenge participants to quickly type the answers to its wide range of questions in a limited amount of time.

Sporcle's "badly drawn celebrities" quiz

What I love most about this website is just how important little details become for those few minutes. During one quiz, it nearly killed me that I forgot which movie contains the quote, “Gentlemen, you can’t fight in here. This is the war room.” (Answer: Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb). In another quiz, I was straining myself to come up with popular girl names from the past century (I knew Mary was #1, but who knew that Patricia was #2?). And in one of my favorite quizzes, we’re asked to name celebrities based on their poorly drawn caricatures.

Much like Jeopardy!, Sporcle reminds us of how much – or how little – we know and remember. It’s amazing to me how much of our brains are taken up by this useless information. My favorite Sporcle moment – other than the infamous Chester A. Arthur game – happened a few weeks ago. I was witness to five teenage boys, who, in the allotted 12 minutes, collectively named 151 Pokemon characters. I couldn’t decide if that gives me hope or makes me worry for the future.

That reminds me. You know what’s more fun than the future? Trivia! Comment here if you have any favorite quizzes. Let the distractions begin!

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