I love trivia games. No, you don’t even understand. Something in my make-up seems to have wired me up particularly well to remember bits and pieces of useless information which I am often able to recall at a moment’s notice (usually when Alex Trebek reads a clue on Jeopardy!) and I love doing it. I attribute my personal love of trivia to my mother, who has also always enjoyed such mental exercises and was the one who hooked me on Trivial Pursuit when I was a teenager. Mom loved playing TP with us, I suspect because she typically won. Her favorite version of the game was the “Baby Boomer” edition. Born in 1947, mom qualifies for that demographic. So, there I was, a sixteen year-old kid in the 1980’s, trying to answer questions about people and things I’d never heard of in my life. Always having been something of a history buff I did well enough on questions surrounding big news events of the era and well-known pop culture phenomena of the fifties and sixties were not too tough for me. Ask me about Elvis or the Beatles and I was likely to do all right, but this thing had
questions about acts like Gerry and the Pacemakers for fuck’s sake. I call bullshit. I was a kid. How was I supposed to know anything about Paul Revere and the Raiders? My world revolved around AC/DC, Iron Maiden, The Cure,
Siouxsie and the Banshees, and Joy Division. Years later, as an adult, I had a few instances of revenge against mom in the trivia realm. The first was in about 1987 or so when Jeopardy! announced they were doing a “contestant search” in Phoenix. In those days you had to send a post card with your information on it and hope to be selected for their screening test. I immediately called mom and told her about it and we both mailed in our cards. Jeopardy! contacted me back and invited me to come take their test. Mom was left out of that one. I didn’t get on the show (hardest test I’ve ever taken in my life!), but I still count it as a tick in the W column for me. Even later, at some family gathering or another, we were playing some game that was based on movie quotes. The less lines from the film that you used to guess the title, the more points you got. When my grandmother read the line, “consider that a divorce” and my brother and I simultaneously identified Total Recall, mom got pissed and quit playing. She also cried foul when we were playing and updated version of Trivial Pursuit and the question asked was “Who, according to Aerosmith, has got a gun?” Mom felt it was unfair because how was she supposed to know anything about Aerosmith? Eff you, mother. And Gerry and his Pacemakers. So, anyway, I have always loved trivia games, mostly thanks to mom. As such, I have tried to surround myself with people who have a similar love of trivia and trivia games. My girlfriend Lisa is one such person. Trivia is one of those things we initially bonded over (I was thrilled that not only was she willing to play Trivial Pursuit with me, but that she was actually capable of beating me at it from time to time) and our shared love of the intellectual sport has only grown since. We play Jeopardy! together on the Xbox 360, we watch the show together as well, and for the past few weeks we’ve been the winning team at the local bar’s pub trivia night. The bar, incidentally, is a divey little place called Double Shots in Las Vegas. If you’re ever in town (on the southeast side), you can find a lot worse places to grab a drink or ten.
Pub trivia was a new experience for me. I went in expecting questions about music and movies and instead found myself trying to guesstimate the number of sesame seeds on the average sesame seed bun and searching my brain for the definition to Heteropaternal superfecundation (very rare in humans, but common in domestic animals such as dogs and cats, this is when a pair of fraternal twins have different fathers; by the way… somehow I came up with that answer). Lisa, having played before at other bars, knew somewhat more what to expect. As such she’s been a fantastic trivia partner. I love playing against her on the Xbox Jeopardy! or You Don’t Know Jack, but it’s even better when she’s on my side. For example, the pub trivia games usually include a “Name That Tune” round in which the host will play the first ten seconds or so of a song and we’ll have to guess the title and artist. I like to think I know a thing or two about music, but Lisa is a goddamn genius at that shit. She has her strengths and i have mine, but that’s not to say we haven’t disagreed here and there. For example, one night the host said, “spell ‘aneurysm,‘” and I was sure that the spelling was a-n-e-u-r-i-s-m. Lisa had it correct, but acquiesced to me and, well, we got that one wrong. The following week the same thing happened in reverse when the round was all band names for answers and the question was, “in what book of the Bible would you find the story of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah?” I said Genesis, Lisa was sure it was Exodus. Both are band names, although one is a little better known than the other. I gave in and, well, we got that
one wrong. You live and learn. Most of the time, though, I trust her instincts. She impressed the shit out of me this past week. The trivia host announced, “oh, no one is gonna get this one,” and, to Lisa, that meant a challenge had been issued. The question was, “what word can be used to refer to an American think tank, an African currency, and a Russian philosopher?” I will say I got close by considering “Krugerrand” which, of course, is a gold coin from South Africa (though it certainly doesn’t fit the other two uses), and we were going to go with that rather than leave the space blank when the host dropped a hint that the word starts with the letter ‘R.’ Lisa immediately whispered to me, “I’m almost sure there was a think-tank called Rand…” Well, we reasoned that ‘Rand could be short for the Krugerrand; and wasn’t Ayn Rand of Russian birth? So, yeah, we got that one, all because of my gal. I’m so proud. And there has never been a better trivia partner anywhere ever. She does have trouble beating me at Xbox Jeopardy! though.