Not-So-Trivial Pursuits

Every question has an answer. Some are debatable, some are flat out wrong, but none of that really matters when you’re competing at a trivia night run by high schoolers. If they say Europe is the second-most populated continent in the world (correct answer: Africa), so be it. (Sidenote: the purpose of the trivia night was to raise money for the high school kids’ prom. Kind of a dubious reason to raise money, since I have a feeling prom is a lot less innocent nowadays than when I was in school [picture me slow-dancing with my dance partner a good three feet away from me, followed by me getting tired around midnight and calling it a night]. Nonetheless, that didn’t stop me from trying to procure a date to the prom in question, which meant I constantly talked to my friends about that idea and never once spoke to a high school girl. I promise.)

These were the odds my trivia table team fought against this past Saturday night. I speak of “team” as if I assembled a group of the best and brightest minds in St. Louis. A falser statement could not be made. One, I didn’t form the group; I was just along for the ride, hoping to drink some cheap beer and maybe get an answer or two right. Two, the group that was formed was actually so big that we had to split into two separate tables. Three, our minds were neither the best nor the brightest.

My mind is particularly weak at trivia. Even though I know exactly what karate means, when a question asked for the word meaning “empty hand,” it was as if I hadn’t studied Japanese for 10 years. When possibly the most famous movie quote ever, “We’re gonna need a bigger boat,” was read, my mind informed me that not only was it not familiar with that quote, but it couldn’t recall ever watching any movies at all. Such are my trivia skills.

So for most of the night, while Mike, a friend whose white whale over the past 8 years has been a trivia night victory, did his best to figure out every answer with his Princeton Review friends, my contributions were limited to identifying a rather difficult—if I may say so myself—Edward Scissorhands line and trying to convince everyone that the slogan “The Happiest Place on Earth” refers to Disneyland, not Disneyworld (in the end, we were all correct). My two favorite question/answer pairings that we came up with—the former was a friend’s answer, the latter my suggestion—are as follows:

High Schooler Question: Who was the first woman to go over Niagara Falls in a wooden barrel?
Our Answer: Susan B. Anthony (a shot in the dark, but I felt good about it)
Correct Answer: Someone nobody’s heard of.

High Schooler Question: What is the name of the company that was inspired by a chair that Edward M. Knabusch lounged in and later died in?
Our Answer: Lay-Z-Boy
My Answer (which I still stand by): The electric chair

When the dust settled at the end of the night, our team finished tied for fourth out of thirty teams. Not bad, but not great. Maybe next time.

Except next time, I’m bringing help. I’m not really sure why more trivia teams don’t do this. If you’re really committed to winning a trivia night, why not bring in the big guns? Why not get this guy on your team?

After winning over $2 million on Jeopardy’s longest streak ever, Ken Jennings is now touring the country to promote his new book. While he’s touring, he should be selling his services to the highest bidder—people should be hiring him for their trivia teams! How cool would that be, to have him on your team? Sure, it would take the fun out of working as a team to determine the correct answer, you can replace that with the fun of crushing all of the other teams. Just make sure to give Ken a fake nametag so people don’t know who he is. Something along the line of Jen Kennings or Kenneth J.

The next time I embark on a trivia night, along with my arsenal of insightful answers, I’ll have a secret weapon. Ken Jennings here, reporting for duty.

0 thoughts on “Not-So-Trivial Pursuits”

  1. You’re not giving yourself enough credit here. Team game, and I think we all contributed. I was, however, disappointed by some of the questions. Next time, riot.

  2. Mike and I (and either Arianna or Lori) won trivia night at CBGB’s once. I know, not quite the big leagues, but hey, you’d be impressed if you saw either of us hit one out in a college baseball game, right?

    And the prize was booze. Let’s see those high schoolers give away anything better than that.


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