Saturday morning. I emerge into the dining room. My Dad looks up with a cheerful expression. “Aha!” he says. It’s nice to be appreciated, but before I get a chance to feel too smug, he pulls out the newspaper. Oh, no.
Pop: “What was the greatest gift given to America by France?”
Isaac Asimov’s genius quiz. Groan.
Me: “Statue of Liberty.”
Pop: “That’s what I say, too. Who was famous for crossing the Rubicon?”
Me: “Groan.” (audible) “I need coffee before I can deal with this.”
I continue on into the kitchen. Pop is undaunted.
Pop: “Come on. Who was famous for crossing the Rubicon?”
Me: “Ernő Rubik.”
Pop: “Ernő Rubik?”
Me: (sarcasm) “Oh, wait, he was famous for the Rubik’s Cube.”
Pop: (Brief grin.) “I think it had something to do with Kipling.”
I shrug and pour my coffee.
Pop: “Who ruled Spain from 1939 to 1975?”
Pop: “Who was the Soviet leader during the Cuban Missile Crisis?”
I remain silent on this one, letting him have it. He was in the service during the Missile Crisis, after all. Surely he…
Me: (Stunned) “Um… Khrushchev.”
Pop: “Ooh, right! Very good.”
Me: “You want to know the impressively intelligent reason I know that answer?”
Me: “When we were growing up, you had that book of political photo cartoons, and Krushchev was in it. It stuck with me.”
Pop grins. Moves on.
Pop: “Who allegedly killed officer JD Tippit?”
I have a vague feeling this is related to the TV show “Dallas.”
Pop: “What country was Leon Trotsky assassinated in?” Silence.
Pop: “During what war did the battle of Jutland take place?” Silence.
Pop: (Looking up at me in disbelief) “Who knows this kind of stuff??”
Me: “What’s worse: knowing it…or not knowing any of it?”
Pop: “We knew the Statue of Liberty.”
We continue. We have FAIL. Pop reads the answers. We got the Statue of Liberty right. Oh, and Krushchev. But the Rubicon?
Pop: “Huh. It wasn’t Kipling. Julius Caesar was famous for crossing the Rubicon. I thought he was famous for ‘Nobody sees her like Julius Caesar.'”
Me: (Finally admitting) “I’ve never even heard of the Rubicon!”
Pop: “It’s famous. Julius crossed it.”
Mom walks in the room.
Pop: “Who was famous for crossing the Rubicon?”
Mom: (Blank stare)
Pop: “It’s a river in Italy. Don’t feel bad, I thought it was something Kipling wrote.”
Nobody tell Asimov, okay?