A few months ago, Handsome and I went to meet up with Penata and her boyfriend, The World's Greatest Carolina Fan (TWGCF) at a local bar. In the midst of drinks and merriment, I spilled a little (oops!) and reached for the nearest napkin, a decision that happened to change my life for the subsequent future. You're dying to know why, aren't you. Well. It changed my life because scribbled on that napkin were the names of 17 African countries.
"What's this?" I inquired, holding the napkin scrap up.
"Oh, just a game," said Penata. "We were testing each other to see who could name the most African countries in 60 seconds."
Instantly (and completely predictably), I was hooked. How many could I name? Seventeen seemed a paltry number, surely I could best it by a wide margin! No. It turns out I could not. I got 18, and one of them I only remembered because I had just seen it written on the napkin 45 seconds earlier. I was humiliated. What kind of educated person am I? I'm supposed to be earning a doctorate here, and I can't name even half of the African nations? That's just downright embarrassing.
So there you have it - thus began my latest obsession. Within a month we had a world map shower curtain, and another world map hanging in our bedroom. I have been steadily studying these maps a bit at a time, and I think I'm ready. Eventually my goal is to name all 47 in geographic order, but for now, my goal is to get most. Not all, just most. I think that's as much as I'm ready to commit to.
Before I begin, I would like to invite you to challenge yourself before reading the following. Close your laptop, grab a spare sheet of paper, and see what you can do from memory. Unless you don't think deliberate exercises in self-humiliation have a positive effect in your life, in which case, go ahead and study up first.
Now. Ready? I am on the couch, not a map in sight. I haven't looked at the map since yesterday, so this is as close to my natural state as I get. I have a timer, and I'm holding myself strictly to the honor code.
Ladies and gentlemen, this is a test. This is only a test.
Western Sahara (occupied Morocco)
Democratic Republic of Congo
Central African Republic
Shit. I don't think that was even close to 47. Hang on, let me count. OK, 39. Unless I accidentally repeated some, and I know I got out of geographic order a couple times in there. What the heck did I forget. Dang.
Oh, well. There is always room and time for improvement. Let me know how you all do, if you take the test!