Sunday, February 26, 2006

Pandemonium at the “Knowledge” Bowl

First, it’ll be 7 weeks tomorrow since I launched the blog. Thanks for the 5,000 plus hits. 5,000 hits? Sounds like my sophomore year at college. There have also been 268 separate posts which might seem excessive, but I wanted to get into the real stuff as soon as possible. Today’s post about Walker and the terrorist attack was direct from my soul – that’s the real stuff for me. In many ways my life’s been a struggle to get past that situation – I had to confront the ugliness of humanity, and get to know the new person I had become. Finally, I had to try and steer things back to the good side of life: The fun and the laughs. That’s what the 500 jokes on the Tonight Show meant to me. I was saying “Take that” back at the world, and doing penance for the ugliness that ruled my soul after Walker was killed. Let’s just say it was much easier forgiving humanity, than myself. I mean, we were just happy-go-lucky jokesters and all of a sudden I was drawn into this world of international terrorism. I hated what it did to me, but I am happy to report that the terrorists did not win. It was a long struggle, but they did not win.
So before the day is out, I wanted to post about the real Walker Heywood – the hilarious, charismatic one. The one who was the coolest kid in our class, but who never excluded anyone from his circle. And for that, I’d like to go a mere 4-and-a-half years back from his death to 9th grade, and something they called “The Knowledge Bowl.”

The school only went up to 9th grade in Dhahran so we were competing with the 7th and 8th graders, and we were expected to win. You can tell from the stage decorations, how big a deal this was.
There were around 600 to 800 kids out in the gym watching and it could get pretty serious. Walker and I had the exact same impulse: It was no big deal to lose but we had to be entertaining. In fact, it was all about being entertaining. Questions were met with tons of antics, including getting up and threatening to walk out on several occasions. I could here the laughter out there each time Walker or someone else on our team would say something crazy. Correct answers by the stuffy other teams were met with derision – as if the 7th and 8th grade students were hopeless show-offs. Meanwhile, we were the ones playing to the crowd. For us, that was all that mattered.
Walker works the room, as I ham it up.

The crowd was building and then the moment arrived. I had read this ridiculous article in a science magazine claiming that Antarctica was actually a desert based on the amount of precipitation. Okay, for starters we were all sitting in Saudi Arabia, so the kids had a pretty good idea of what a real desert looked like. Second, it did take away from the article’s argument about the lack of precipitation in Antarctica when the damn thing was made out of ice.
But guess what question came up? “What is the largest desert in the world?” I slammed the buzzer, and knowing they would go crazy, I said “Antarctica.” If only I had gotten that kind of reaction when I tried standup. Of course, my team pretended to beat me, and there was pandemonium onstage and off.
Naturally, we lost the Knowledge Bowl, but damn it, we were hilarious, and that’s what I remember most. We had a philosophy of laughter and not taking things too seriously and I still believe in it. We had lost the Knowledge Bowl but we were right.


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