Trivia night is Monday, and tonight is Monday, and so tonight I went to play trivia. The core team, since I’ve joined, is as follows:
A.J. knows an ungodly amount of pop cultural trivia which, in a trivia game that takes place in a pub and not, say, a library, is an especially valuable asset. A.J. is tall and Bostonian and drinks Bud Light. A.J. is the trivia master on the team.
Mike and I played soccer and lacrosse together growing up. Mike still plays lacrosse, while I’ve taken up smoking cigarettes. Mike is sports and pop culture and other bits of randomness that are sometimes extremely handy.
3. Mary (and, occasionally, Bob, her husband)
Mary and Bob are the parents of Matt and Tim, who are respectively my brother’s and my age. Tim and Mike (#2 above) and I all played soccer together, in fact. But that’s neither here nor there. Mary plays trivia with us, that’s what I’m saying. (Or rather, no: it should be emphasized that I go to play trivia with them. I’m the new guy in the family, even though I’ve been there for three months. I’m still being initiated, I guess. Whatever.) Mary’s a teacher, well-rounded and always on her game. She, along with A.J., constitutes the heart of the team. Or at least the heart of its winning aspect.
Bob, when he comes, eats dinner, cracks jokes, has a beer, and generally casts doubt on everyone else’s answers to the point that we submit wrong answers to appease Bob, come back to the table, frown, feel bad about ourselves, and vow to never listen to Bob again about anything, until the next question, when we do.
I’m just kidding. Bob is great. But he does cast a shit-ton of doubt.
4. Sherry and Ted
Ted’s a Republican who has a concealed weapons permit and occasionally brings his firearm to trivia night. Sherry works for the city and seems entirely apolitical. They’re both fantastic. Ted is supposed to be the science guy, but he’s not. He works with lasers, and though lasers are certainly “scientific,” Ted’s familiarity with realms of science that don’t deal with lasers approaches that of an avid crossword puzzler. By which I mean me. Dear Ted, I will never forgive you for convincing the team that the correct answer to some random question about atoms was “Isotope” instead of “Ion.” Dear Ted, I knew it was “Ion.” Dear Ted, I have solved enough crossword puzzles to know that anything with the words “charged” and “particle” in the description refers to an “Ion,” not an “Isotope.” But, Ted, I deferred to you because you were the science guy. And you were wrong. And we lost. You will answer for this one day.
Sherry is the safety. Sherry covers gaps in pop culture and sports knowledge, and will occasionally pull an answer so magnificently brilliant straight out of her ass while the rest of us are sitting around looking at our thumbs that I’m inclined to include her in the “heart” of the team. Indeed, yes. Fuck it. It’s a trifecta. Sherry, Mary, and A.J. The rest of us ride their coattails.
As for me, I’ve got history, politics, philosophy, and a bunch of shit that’s never addressed in pub trivia. Sadly. But, that’s not quite right. I’m an occasional asset. I’ve had my fair share of clutch moments (Wachovia, Franklin Pierce, etc.). I feel as though I belong. And I don’t think anyone feels otherwise.
So it’s all gravy.
For the past six weeks, we have literally been unstoppable. Granted, the past three we’ve had over the “legal limit” as far as team members go–(to take first prize, you can only have a maximum of six players, and lately we’ve had a rotating cast of alternates/additions)–so we’ve only taken second prize… But honestly. We are the goddamn Yankees of pub trivia. We are the Yankees of pub trivia and we don’t even cheat.
That’s important, by the way. A lot of teams do cheat. They “go to the bathroom” to “poop” and really “look up answers on their iPhones” to “win.” Only they don’t win. And they don’t poop. We win. And they have to eat our poop. And revenge is a dish best served on a skillet with pork chops and apple sauce.
Except today. Tonight. Tonight is the night I decide to pick up our prize, and oh, sure, Ted and Sherry’s daughter has been on our team about half the time, but she’s not core and I don’t really consider it legit. And we win, come from behind to take it by one point, and I’m up there claiming our prize, when Dan The Trivia MC says,
“Whoa. You guys had more than six people last time.”
And I say, “Yeah, but we finished second.”
To which, “So how many do you have this week?”
And here’s the thing: this week we technically have seven, but two of them are there just for show, and we’ve been relegated to an obscure corner of the bar where Dan can’t see us, and I’m all thinking like, ‘Fuck it, let’s just take the money and run.’
So I say, ‘Well, we had a drifter, so that makes us between five and a half and six.” And Dan says, well, he’s going to verify that, and while he does so I get into a conversation with Brendan, with whom I went to high school, and whose team has come in second place. Brendan’s team has lost by one point, and they are made up of four members, one of whom looks no more than ten years old. Brendan is a genuinely good human being and I feel bad having sent Dan The Trivia MC to verify my lie. Rather fucking bad.
I feel especially bad when Dan The Trivia MC comes back and announces the foregone conclusion–that I must cede our team’s first place gift certificate–and look Brendan in the eye. I don’t, granted, feel especially bad about the lie. As I’ve said, Ted pretty much phones it in and drinks Coca Colas every week and his daughter didn’t do shit tonight. But I’ve been dishonest, I’ve been caught in my dishonesty, and for a moment I feel like curling up into a ball and dying.
Needless to say, I don’t. I play it off like it’s an honest mistake, switch the gift certificates, and tell Brendan I’ll talk to him before I go to India. I walk outside to meet A.J. and Mike, and A.J. tells me that it was in fact Ted who told Dan The Trivia MC that we had seven team members.
“It was fucking Ted?”
“Yeah, dude. Ted told him we had seven.”
I shake my fist at the sky. A.J. gives me a ride home. All is well in the world.