When playing competitive team trivia, one develops certain routines and superstitions. There are trivia players that wear customized t-shirts. There are trivia teams that will order the same beverage to start out the game. I remember Lynch’s Mob used to do a fist-bump after every question they got right, which was a lot of fist-bumps. There was also a team back in the day called Boomstick, who used to shout “Boomstick! Hoo-Rah!” after every question they got right – which, for Boomstick, wasn’t very many.
One of the things I’m superstitious about when it comes to team trivia is where I sit. Once I find a comfortable table or bar stool at a trivia locale, I will try to get that same location each week if it is available. When I first played trivia at Hooters in Crossgates Mall, it had to be table 74. At Old Chicago, there was a “champion’s table” set up for me (mostly because the bar didn’t want my single-person team at the time hogging a four-person table). If I’m playing solo at Elbo Room, I’ll sit at the bar; if I have teammates, I prefer one of the booths.
On Monday nights at Brown’s, my teammates and I prefer table #21 upstairs for trivia. It’s a nice two-bench four-person table, we’re next to the stairs, we’re not far from the lavatories, and it’s just a good equidistant spot. The hostesses at Brown’s will make sure that our table is reserved, and we’ll be ready to play as soon as host Steven Murray reads the first question.
So last night, I went to Brown’s for my Monday night trivia fix.
“Someone’s at your table,” the hostess told me. “They should be finishing up soon.”
I patiently waited.
At around 730pm, 30 minutes before trivia was to start, I asked the hostess, “Those patrons have been up there for a while. If my table’s being used, I can go to another table, it’s not a problem.”
“Okay,” the hostess said.
I went upstairs.
I expected to see some family at table 21 finishing their meal, or maybe some RPI students that were just stretching out their dining and drinking time before they had to return to the dorms to study.
It was a trivia team, parked in my spot. And one of the guys was a player I recognized from the Skidmarks.
“Hey, Chuck,” he said to me.
“Hey there,” I replied. “What are you doing here?”
“We’re playing trivia tonight, Chuck. This is a great seat for trivia, we’re going to have a lot of fun.”
Yeah, that’s a great seat for trivia. That’s MY seat for trivia, you knuckleheads.
I reluctantly took a four-person table at another part of the restaurant. Other teams came upstairs – Just the Tips and A Few Cards Short of a Deck and Boats & Garden Hoes – they all noticed I was out of my normal customary position. So did Jeremy and Alexis, when they arrived to join me for trivia.
“Who’s sitting at our table?” Jeremy asked.
“Some other trivia team,” I grunted.
“They shouldn’t be at our table,” Alexis joked.
At that point, the offending trivia team – who were calling themselves “Plan B” – came over to where I was sitting.
“Hey Chuck, we understand that we have your table. Sorry, man. We can switch if you like.”
Well, no harm, no foul, I’m sure the waitstaff at Brown’s can swap the tables in their computer so that our bills are made out to the right customers –
“Yeah, Chuck, we’ll swap tables. For one hundred dollars. HA ha ha ha ha ha!!”
Oh, I should mention that there’s plenty of trash-talking at competitive team trivia. Skidmarks, for example, will boo and jeer my Street Academy team when our scores are mentioned, as if we’re the villain tying the damsel to the railroad tracks. Heck, Dan Smith of Tres Hombres has been heckling me on this blog (under the nickname of D357) ever since my blog was on blogspot.com.
But these clowns took my table. Intentionally. To try to throw me off my game.
And all that they did – was motivate me and my team.
We nailed answer after answer. Alexis knew who made Lean Cuisine meals (Stouffers). Jeremy snagged the double bonus on how many games the Jets and the Ravens won last year (nine – and nine). I identified the author of the book “How to Make Friends and Influence People” (Dale Carnegie). We built up a nice fat lead.
Meanwhile, “Plan B” had what I’ll call “freezing” scores – they were hovering around zero. And their boasting stopped pretty quickly.
We took the lead into the final question. The category was “fast food.” We bet enough to lock out our closest competitors, Just the Tips and A Few Cards Short of a Deck, should we get the question right.
“In 1996, what country opened the first ‘ski-through’ McDonald’s?”
And on the night, this was the first – and only – question we got wrong. We put down Canada. Heck, they eat a lot of McDonald’s food in Canada, eh – they got poutine as a meal option in Canadian McDonald’s restaurants. Other teams put down Denmark, Sweden, Norway.
And the correct answer – was Sweden.
And A Few Cards Short of a Deck picked up the win. We walked over and congratulated them.
Plan B disappeared from the restaurant faster than a deadbeat at the first sight of a bill collector.
It was a good game, we should have taken it wire to wire, but at least if we lost, we lost to another trivia team that plays clean and is playing for the right reasons – to have fun. At least when the Cards do any trash talking, it’s all in good fun.
And they never tried to poach my trivia table. 🙂