“Did you know that the little dot over the letter i is called a tittle?” said Albert.
“I didn’t know – and I don’t care!” replied Elvis.
In fact, nobody seemed to care about all of the “interesting facts” that Albert told. Like: a cat has 32 muscles in each ear and the strongest muscle in your body is your tongue.
“Nobody’s interested in anything I say. I think it’s really amazing that a giraffe can go for longer without water than a camel can but nobody else cares” thought Albert. But he was wrong. There was Gummo.
It’s true that Gummo sometimes seemed a little crazy but he loved Albert’s “interesting facts” almost as much as Albert did. But Gummo was no good at remembering them. Albert could tell Gummo that M&Ms were invented for American soldiers going to the Second World War so that their chocolate wouldn’t melt, a million times and Gummo would still say “Wow! That’s amazing! I never knew that.”
Albert looked up from the book that he was reading to see an excited looking Gummo approaching. “Hi Gummo!” he said. “Did you know that butterflies taste with their hind feet?”
“Wow! That’s amazing! I never knew that” replied Gummo. “But I do know something that you don’t.”
Albert looked doubtful but asked “And what’s that?”
“There’s going to be a competition”, said Gummo. “A quiz. And there’s a prize. And I know you could easily win it.”
“What’s the prize?” asked Albert.
“Oh, I forget,” replied Gummo, “but I remember that it’s really good.”
“When is this quiz on?” asked Albert.
“I forgot to ask. I was so excited.” said Gummo.
It turned out that the quiz was on the next Sunday afternoon and that the prize was a $500 gift certificate to be spent at the local sporting goods store. But there was one problem. The topic of the quiz was sports. And the one thing that Albert knew nothing about was sport.
“I can’t do it” said Albert. “What’s the use of knowing that the white part of your fingernail is called the lunula and the plastic thing at the end of your shoe laces is an aglet, if the quiz is about sport?”
“You can do it. It’ll be easy for you. You can remember everything.” said Gummo. “Just read some books about sport and you’ll win for sure.”
Albert decided to try. He learned that a soccer ball has 32 panels held together by 642 stitches and that the world record for running 100 yards backwards is 14 seconds. But after a couple of days of this, Albert became discouraged. “There’s so much to remember and the quiz is on Sunday. I’ll never do it.” He told Gummo.
“Don’t give up! You already know heaps of stuff about sport.” said Gummo.
“I’m not even sure what counts as sport. Do you think that I might need to know that there are 43,252,003,274,489,856,000 possible combinations on a Rubik’s cube?” asked Albert.
“Wow! That’s amazing! I never knew that.” replied Gummo. “Somehow I don’t think that you’ll get that particular question but if you do you’ll be the only one to get it right.”
Albert felt encouraged and went back to reading about sport. He learned that tennis was originally called sphairistike and that mini golf was originally Tom Thumb Golf. But there was so much to learn that several times he almost gave up. But, each time, Gummo encouraged him and got him back to learning about sport.
“Gummo, did you know that most lipstick contains fish scales?” Albert asked on the way to the quiz. “And, Gummo, did you know that you’re my number one fan?”
“Wow! That’s amazing! I never knew that.” replied Gummo.
The first round of the quiz was an elimination. There were ten contestants who were asked six questions. The best five moved on to the second round. The questions were easy and Albert had no trouble qualifying.
There was just six more questions and the one who got most right would be the winner.
The first question was: When were the first Olympic Games held?
An easy question for Albert, although some of the others didn’t even know that the first Olympic Games were held in Ancient Greece. “I’m sure that it was in 776 BC” he thought as he pressed the correct button C, bursting to tell everyone that they were held om Mount Olympus to honour the god Zeus.
The next question was harder for Albert: What sport causes the most eye injuries? Albert thought maybe fencing but decided on darts. But the correct answer was baseball.
Albert knew the next one: Which golfer coined the term “caddy”? It was Mary Queen of Scots who started calling her assistants “cadets” or “caddys” way back in 1552.
And then: in tennis, what is the name for the left side of each player’s court? Albert knew this one too, the “ad court”. But he felt like he would burst because he couldn’t tell everyone that the other side was called the “deuce court”.
The second last question was: Who made up the rules of nine-pin bowling? Albert remembered seeing this but it was a long time ago – and not in a sporting book. “It has something to do with religion” he thought “because there’s a story in Germany that thunderstorms are when the angels are playing bowls.” Then, just as time was almost up, it came to him: it was the great German religious reformer, Martin Luther.
“Well, we have two contestants who have missed just one question” said the Quizmaster. “The others are well out of the contest. So, the final question will be a play-off between Michael and Albert.
“Nobody could know the exact answer, so the nearest will be the winner. Raise your hand when you have an answer. How many possible combinations are there on a Rubik’s cube?”
Albert’s hand immediately shot up as he smiled at Gummo. “The are over 43 quintillion possibilities – 43,252,003,274,489,856,000 to be precise – but the cube can always be solved in 29 moves or less” said Albert.
The Quizmaster looked amazed. “I think that we have a very worthy winner!” he said as he reached out his hand to congratulate Albert.
“Can I make a special request?” asked Albert as he took the Quizmaster’s hand. “Can half of the prize go to Gummo? Without him I wouldn’t have done anything. And, by the way, did you know that there are 336 dimples on a golf ball?”