"The gods do not give all men gifts of grace, neither good looks nor intelligence."
Once in a while, as I while away some post-dinner time watching Jeopardy, I wonder why the Mensa-level contestants drop the ball on such easy questions.
Why, I get all the Bible, classical music and New England geography questions so fast I know I'd be the first to buzz in with the correct answer. Of course, there a few zillion categories I know nothing about, all of which would be on the board if I ever were standing there trying to speed-o-think what to say.
I'm an avid fan of puzzles, quizzes or any game show where the answers demand you've studied something in your lifetime. Questions like, "Do you think we should elect a Mormon president?" or "How long do you think Paris Hilton will stay in jail?" aren't exactly what I have in mind. But when I see an Internet or magazine questionnaire, I'm usually tempted to see if I can match a "better than average" score.
There's probably some unfulfilled ego problem here, but I figure it's a quick opportunity to learn something new. So it should come as no surprise that, when a friend sent me a copy of "The World's Easiest Quiz," I sat down pen in hand to prove - at least to myself - how much I know.
Talk about an unfulfilled ego. I haven't failed a test since I bungled parallel parking between two invisible railroad ties 35 years ago. But though I'm sure I have plenty of intellectual superiors out there, I'm going to repeat the quiz here for all you smarties who think, as I did, that this really is a breeze. (Readers may respond with their scores, which I promise not to reveal unless higher than 2.)
1) How long was the Hundred Years War between England and France?
2) Which country makes Panama hats?
3) From which animal do we get the catgut used to make tennis rackets?
4) In which month do the Russians drink vodka to celebrate their 1917 October Revolution?
5) What is a camel's hair paint brush made of?
6) For what species are the Canary Islands named?
7) What was King George VI's first name?
8) What color is a purple finch?
9) Where do Chinese gooseberries grow?
10) How do you spell the name of that four-string, guitar-like instrument so popular in Hawaii?
11) How long did the Thirty Years War last?
12) What do the letters M, O, Q, V, W and Z have in common?
Oops! If you're looking at this section before you take the test, which might seem like a smart thing to do, you're cheating. But if you've been honest, finished the quiz and want to check your trivial IQ, read on. Here are the correct answers:
1)116 years - from 1337 to 1453
3) Sheep and horses
4) November; the Russian (Gregorian) calendar lags 13 days behind ours.
5) Squirrel fur
6) The Latin "Insularia Canaria," or the Spanish "Islas Canaris" both mean "Island of the Dogs."
7) Albert, which he changed to George out of respect to Queen Victoria, who wished that no future King of England would ever be called Albert.
9) New Zealand
11) 30 years - ha! Fooled you - from 1618 to 1648
12) All these letters are movie titles.
According to the quiz compiler, "Six correct answers qualify you as either the owner of a prodigious store of offbeat knowledge, or a tireless pursuer of bizarre trivia." I guess my score of "2" means I'm neither.
Somehow I think there are more worthy pursuits than determining a use for squirrel fur, or wondering when the Russians need an excuse to drink Vodka. But I was pleased that at least my literal mind believed a 30-year war would last 30 years, and all those years of music lessons helped me spell "ukulele."
Barbara Seaborn is a local freelance writer. E-mail comments to seabara at aol.com.
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