So every week at my gym, there is a little game/contest/activity that we do while we work out. It usually involves things taped on the walls that we have to run to. It's kind of silly, but it boosts morale and all that, I think.
When there are papers taped on the walls and we have 30 seconds to run around and collect as many as we can, I usually do better than the soccer moms and the seniors who I work out with in the mornings. But when these activities are usually trivia-type things, my success at them is questionable.
For example, one week, it was a version of Scattergories (called "Stop" in Brazil). The categories were taped on the walls around the gym. The trainer girls gave us a letter, and we had to run around collecting the categories and calling out our answers. (Can you tell that it's an all-women's gym?)
The trainer girl was nice to me and gave me the letter C. I did better at this than I imagined.
A city? Curitiba!
A fruit? Caju!
A word to describe your mother in law? Carente! (haha... not really true, but a C-adjective that I knew, plus it made them laugh)
I also made up a word, but they gave me points: A kitchen appliance? I figured that the word for "coffee maker" would start with a C, so I said cafezeira. Turns out it's cafeteira, and that may be spelled wrong. But pretty good.
Many of the activities involve songs and song lyrics. I fail miserably at these ones. I know the lyrics to exactly two Brazilian pop songs: this one and this one, the second of which really shows you where I live. The games usually involve the trainer girls humming a song or singing part of the lyrics, and then us having to guess what song it is. Most of them are traditional Bossa Nova stuff. The girls are always like "how do you not know this song?! It's classic!!!!" And then I just smile politely. One of the trainer girls tries to include me more by asking me to instead sing along to the English songs that she has on her cell phone, like Fergalicious. I go along with it. They're entertained, and I get my "gym points" for the week for participating (I can use them toward free shirts or whatever).
A couple of weeks ago, the activity was Brazilian state capitals. There was a list of capitals on one wall, and a list of states on the other, and we had to match them up. There are 26 states, and I knew 12 of the capitals. Pretty good, if I do say so myself! Especially for never having gone to school in Brazil. (This entry is really revealing my nerdy-ness... the fact that I know more state capitals than pop songs.)
And then last week, the activity involved fruits and their benefits. There was a list of fruits, and a list of their benefits (ex: this fruit is high in fiber and helps with digestion). I personally thought it was kind of silly... the benefits were totally general, and the kinds of things that you read in a little filler blurb on the "health and fitness" page in Cosmo. A bunch of the fruits were also fruits that are specific to the tropics, so I am pretty unfamiliar with them.
So I matched up only two out of ten correctly. However, the other women got like 8/10 right. Turns out most of the "benefits" are old wives' tales, and are very cultural. (For example, for maracujá, it said "this fruit can help you relax." The trainer girl couldn't believe that I didn't know this! Again, I just smiled politely.)
All of these little games at the gym just kind of remind me that how much of what you know about a culture is what you just pick up around you... from your mother/grandmother growing up, on the radio, in fashion magazines, in casual conversations. You just kind of subconsciously absorb the information. Think about how many mindless song lyrics you know, or how many state capitals you could match up if you had to. Brazilian trivia games really reveal how much/little I've absorbed.