Content knowing useless information

“That’s some bad hat, Harry.”

I recognized those words immediately.

The comment rang familiar, very familiar. Why – I don’t know, but I knew who said those words, when, where and under what circumstances.

Too bad I wasn’t on some game show with a couple hundred thousand dollars at stake.

I’ve always watched “Jeopardy!” with a secret desire to weigh in with the right answer to an obscure question, and beam with an I-know-this kind of smugness.

I turned to my co-worker and announced with confidence what I knew to be true of the ring tone I’d just heard on his cell phone, that man’s slightly annoyed voice saying, “That’s some bad hat, Harry.”

“That’s a line from ‘Jaws,'” I told my co-worker, who wasn’t immediately impressed with my observation and even initially doubted it. But I knew the scene from the 1975 movie that made everybody a little uneasy about what’s in the water, that these words were Chief Brody’s (Roy Scheider) response to an old guy swimming with a bathing cap that had at first made Brody paranoid about what he thought he was seeing in the ocean from his seat on the shore.

Was that a great white out there?


Nope. Hold up. Wait a minute.

That was good old Harry emerging from underwater in the very ocean that Brody was scoping for shark sightings. It was Harry and his “bad hat.”

Rightfully so, my co-worker was blinded by my trivia brilliance for all of 5 seconds, confirming my information with a lickety-split visit to the Internet where we can instantly find answers to V.I.S. – Very Important Stuff that we need to know right now, hurry, hurry.

You know – who sang that song, what year did this happen, what was the name of this or that. Yadda-yadda-yadda.

You used to just have to speculate, call someone who might be in your Cliff Clavin circle of know-it-alls or just claim utter ignorance.

Now we Google.

I have to say, I felt pretty smug recognizing the “That’s some bad hat, Harry” line, but wonder why my brain retains some of the information that it does.

Why do I still know my locker combination from high school?

How come I can still recite the lines from a grade school Christmas play?

And why do I recognize a line like that from a scary movie that I saw probably a dozen times?

Even so, some days it feels good to claim rights to knowing something or anything at all.

And you know what they say about a little knowledge, how it goes a long way.

In this case, at least it got me to the end of another column.

Thanks for sticking with me.

And watch out for the sharks.

(Kiaski, a resident of Steubenville, is a staff columnist and features writer for the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times and community editor for the Herald-Star. She can be contacted at