I was eight years old and a gushing fountain of useless knowledge. My favorite bedtime story was the "M" volume of the encyclopedia
. I thought I knew more than anybody. My little brown pigtail
ed head could hold more than yours could, nyah-nyah-nyah-NYAH-nyah!
Then I decided to prove it. That was fun.
The entire extended family was assembled at my grandparents' house for Christmas. Aunts, uncles, cousins, step-cousins, grandparents... everyone was there. Friendly battle of the sexes banter had been flying all night, and it steadily grew more heated. Finally, my Aunt Judy challenged the men to a game of Trivial Pursuit. If the women won, the men had to clean up the dinner mess.
The prospect of proving their superiority appealed to the men. Their chests puffed up, they practiced their best manly grunts, and everyone pulled chairs up to the table. I had been watching everything from behind a half-lowered book. I'd never heard of the game, but I was intrigued. I pulled a chair up to the table.
"Mommy, I wanna play too!"
My mother looked at me.
"This is a big person game, honeybunch. You wouldn't know any of the answers to the questions."
"Yes I would. I want to play."
"No, Jen... Go play with your sister. We'll be done soon, and then you can open your presents."
I watched my cousin Adam, who was only two years older than I and half as smart, sit in the chair I'd fetched. My eyes got big and wet but didn't spill over. I grabbed two cookies from the middle of the table and went into the kitchen to read my book.
I listened to the cheers and jeers and tipsy family revelry in the next room. My cheeks burned with fury.
Uncle John: "What is the chemical name for table salt?"
"NaCl..." I mumbled, turning pages I wasn't really seeing. I daintily nibbled on my Christmas cookies and shot evil hate beams towards the door with my eyes.
I finally got back into my book. Holly had bought the guy who lived above her a birdcage. That was pretty cool of her. But I didn't get why she was going to see the Tomato guy who was in prison. This book was weird. But the chick on the cover, with the cigarette holder, was pretty. Mom kept saying I'd look like her when I grew up. I hoped so.
An hour later, I wasn't quite so angry... Just hungry. I padded into the living room for more cookies. Uncle Larry shushed me at the door.
"Hush, sweetie. If the girls win this question, they win the game!"
Uncle John cleared his throat...
"Who invented dynamite?"
The women stared at each other, faces white. They were stumped. I cleared my throat.
They all stared at me, aghast. I smiled and shrugged.
"You really shoulda let me play."