my brother and i label our dad as perpetually clueless — he usually needs things to be repeated several times before they fully register, he doesn’t remember conversations that he had a few days ago, he is prone to making social gaffes. but this superficial cluelessness makes his thorough knowledge of the world all the more shocking. without hesitating, he could tell me that the southeast asian country whose king recently relinquished power to establish a democracy was bhutan. he can tell you who deposed the previous leader of nepal and a few theories on who masterminded it. when i mentioned griffith park — something i have never discussed with him before — he immediately told me that james dean filmed a movie there with natalie wood and described a fight scene from the film in incredible detail. he knows old film stars (though he often pronounces their names wrong — “it’s peter o’toole, dad, not peter otto”) and contemporary pop culture gossip. he knows where anthony bourdain went on the last episode of no reservations. maybe it’s all the tv he watches — but the fact that he can articulate stephen hawking’s theory of the universe off the cuff… it’s pretty impressive to me. especially since he usually needs a minute to remember how old i am.