Once upon a time, not that long ago, I was known as the trivia guy. Where other people mastered law or medicine or sales, my mind was best suited to accumulating a nearly endless parade of useless if somewhat interesting facts about old pop culture, sports, and history.

Some might say I had a gift.

My reputation reached its zenith when I ran a daily trivia email list for something like three years. It kicked off when I got one of those “80s Trivia Question of the Day” calendars and shared each day’s tidbit with a few friends. That list of recipients grew and grew until I think I was sending it to something like 60 people a day. After year one, I kept it going with questions I came up with on my own. Keep in mind I was gainfully employed during this span. Fortunately, my boss said he was cool with it as long as he was on the list and I got my real work done.

Anyway, some of that gift faded as I grew older, memories went hazy, and fatherhood destroyed significant portions of my brain. I can still remember a lot of stupid shit, but not nearly at the same level of clarity as I used to.

All that is leading up to how we spent our Saturday night: at St. P’s annual trivia night. This was our third year participating. Year one I went in focused and excited and was quickly humbled. Questions were all over the place – why can’t they just ask for 80s movie quotes? – and I felt stupid before we got through round two. There was some bullshit question where they handed each group ten kinds of pasta noodles and we had to correctly identify them. How is that trivia?!?! Our team finished in the bottom quarter.

Year two I relaxed and decided to socialize and drink and not sweat the questions. I believe there was some turnover in who made the questions, because they felt significantly easier. Still, our group was middle of the pack and the night was more about fun than competing.

This year we added a couple new families. I was excited about one couple, as their three oldest kids are all the smartest in their classes, always landing on the class honors list. They’re both attorneys and can both talk about just about any subject, so I thought they would really help.

I’m not sure who decided how to split our group, but it ended up being husbands against wives. Not that it mattered all that much, since we generally find a way to split spouses, but that meant the ladies table had our medical expert, who often comes in handy for a question or two. Still, we had ten reasonably smart guys spanning a roughly 20 year age range: I liked our chances.

I’d love to give you a full, round-by-round breakdown of the contest but A) there were 85 questions over 3.5 hours and B) I was drinking all night. Memories are hazy.

What I do remember was we were in the zone all night. We aced the first section, missed just one on the second section, and then did shockingly well on the entertainment question.[1] Turns out when there are a collective 18 daughters from the group, you know a lot about High School Musical and Twilight! The first time they flashed the scores, we were one of four teams tied for first. The ladies were one point behind us.

We kept nailing category after category. Each group gets a mulligan to place on one question per round. We were consistently getting nine correct and placing our mulligan on the one miss. Scores went up again after the 6th round and we were all alone in first. Amazingly, for the second year in a row I was the only one at the table who could correctly answer two questions in the “Have You Been To Mass Lately?” section. Which is a misnomer because they’re more questions about the local Catholic schools and churches rather than mass itself, and the two I knew were both related to high school sports.

Anyway, we get through all 85 questions and are feeling pretty good about ourselves. Then again, we had been knocking back beers, mules, and drunken grapes for almost four hours; it was impossible not to feel good!

Finally the final scores flash and we were the big winners! We missed only five questions for the night. Second place? Our ladies! No collusion here of any kind, I can promise you! That was awfully fortuitous, though, as only the top two teams win prizes, and both prizes are rather fat gift cards to a local restaurant. So looks like the 20 of us will all be going out again in the near future.

Our attorney friend was by far the MVP. But it was nice to exercise that part of my mind that was once so powerful and contribute.

  1. Long a category where the wives distance themselves from the husbands in the groups that are split by gender.  ↩