Friday, February 21, 2014

A Trivial Mind at Play

I have a trivial mind.

That’s what I tell people when they wonder how I can remember the name of a character actor from the 1940s or of an obscure one-hit-wonder band. My memory for unimportant things is impeccable.

So I should be a great trivia-contest player, right?

My husband and I do make a pretty formidable team when we play along with Jeopardy! on TV or when we play Trivial Pursuit with friends. I let him take the hard categories—science and geography—and I mostly handle the easy ones, like literature, art, and film. We complement each other well.

But the kind of high-stakes trivia contests they play in pubs? That’s another story.

The pub we went to the other night was jammed by the 9 p.m. starting time. We were lucky to get a table for two near the door. I looked around at all the tables and the bar, filled with teams of three, four, five or more people competing against just the two of us. It was daunting. Nevertheless, nourished by a glass of wine and a chicken pot pie, I made myself ready.

The host read off the categories, six rounds of ten questions each: pop culture; geography, history and sports; picture round; music; true/false round; and general knowledge. We actually did pretty well for the first few rounds. When we got to the geography etc. round I was very unsure but counted on my husband to help us at least keep from getting embarrassed. We blew all the other teams away on that round with 90 points (and I did help a little). Each round has a winner, and that one was ours. We actually won a prize--a set of coasters.


I was pumped. Bring on the rest of the questions; we were hot!

The peak turned immediately to a slope in the music round. I thought we made a promising start. On the first notes of the first song, we looked at each other and mouthed “Day Tripper” (so the people at the next table wouldn’t hear us—gotta be strategic). I happily wrote down “Day Tripper, The Beatles”. Wrong. Turned out it was a version by Jimi Hendrix (who knew Jimi Hendrix did a version of “Day Tripper”?). After that we correctly identified Tom Jones and Blondie. Then it fell apart. Halfway through the round, the host threw a country song at us, and we threw up our hands in surrender. No clue the rest of the way. “We’re too old for this round,” I grumbled to the host when he came to pick up our answer sheet. And I’m the one who likes new music!

After limping through the rest of the contest, we finished in tenth place out of about fourteen or fifteen teams. Oh well. We had a lot of fun, and we had our coasters to show for it.

Sometimes the little triumphs make all the difference.


PS: But next time we’ll try to recruit a couple of young people to come with us.







  1. Steven and I have never done the Trivia/bar game but Abram loves it. Has done it for years, so I will be sure to share your post with him. Steve would hands down be the Trivia King in our duo - he likes to say he is a font of "useless information". I just think he's brilliant. Glad you enjoyed yourselves and even came away with a little prize!

  2. Peter and I recently joined a Pub Trivia team, and it's so much fun! I'm pretty lousy at it myself, but do know the odd thing, so I'm able to contribute in my own small way.