For weeks now, Andrew has been asking me to join him on Thursday nights for the trivia contest at Mickey Finn's, a pub in Woodstock. He calls on Thursday afternoon, usually around four or five, and regales me with tales of his team's past glory. "Come join us tonight," he says. "You have a trivial mind."
"I'd love to," I say, "but I need more than two hours notice. Give me twenty-four hours notice and I'm there."
This week, Andrew gave me twenty-four hours notice. This week, I was there.
Mickey Finn's is a pleasant, open neighborhood pub: no smoking, a good menu, a friendly atmosphere. On Thursday nights Mickey Finn's plays host to Mr. Bill's Traveling Trivia Show. Teams of players write down answers to a series of questions, and then turn the answers in to the scorekeeper. There are four rounds of eighteen questions each. At the end of each round, teams are awarded a certain number of raffle tickets based on their score. Raffle tickets are drawn and prizes awarded.
It was a fun time, especially once I had my fill of (greasy) fish and chips and had downed a couple of Lemon Drops. (Yum!)
Dave is puzzled by a question. Andrew offers to provide an answer: "I could explain it for you in small words and pictures."
"Do they involve naked women?" asks Dave.
"They involve math," I say, making a not-so-subtle joke, one which Andrew is tired of hearing.
"They involve both," says Andrew, an answer that pleases the table. (Because, really, what could please four geeks more than math and naked women. Together!)
"In a 1978 movie, Ma and Pa Kent raised whom?" asks Mr. Bill
We answer the obvious: "Clark Kent". We also throw in, for geeky good measure, "a.k.a. Superman" and "a.k.a. Kal-El".
"A.k.a. that paralyzed dead guy," I say.
Andrew shakes his head, displeased. "You get a couple of lemon drops in him and he's obnoxious," he says.
A woman leaves after the first round. She gives us her tickets. Andrew takes an inordinate amount of time to divide them. He seems puzzled. Exasperated, I exclaim: "What's going on? Do you need me to explain the math?" Ha ha! I've used that old joke twice in one night.
"What is the abbreviation for Nickel?" asks Mr. Bill. "And for bonus points, what is its atomic number?"
Josh and Andrew have the abbreviation — Ni — quickly. Josh begins to puzzle the atomic number. He mutters numbers under his breath, counts off an imaginary periodic table. Since my wife is a chemist, I call her at home.
"What's the atomic number for nickel?" I ask.
Kris has to look it up. "Twenty-eight," she says.
"Twenty-eight," I say.
Andrew points to the paper. Josh has already written twenty-eight. How did he know that? While we wait for the questions to be scored, we make geeky "Knights who say Nickel" jokes.
During breaks in the game, we watch the many television monitors throughout the pub. They're tuned to three different stations, and over the course of the trivia contest, we see bits of Seinfeld, Friends (Dave: "Lisa Kudrow is almost attractive. Josh: "Yeah, if she didn't look like that."), some Japanese stunt show, game seven of the Houston/St. Louis series, and many, many political advertisements.
"Are you guys voting yes on any of the ballot measures?" Dave asks. None of us are, not that we recall. (Later, when I tell Kris about the evening, she points out that I do intend to vote yes on 34, the forest measure.)
We discuss the anti-SAIF measure and how silly it is. We discuss the medical malpractice measure. Josh and Dave take turns explaining why capping damages is a bad idea. They sound positively wonkish. (To be fair, there is another side to this debate.)
(At no time do we discuss measure 36; there's no need. However, I do tell them a little story. That morning the guys in the shop had been joking around, telling each other "One man, one woman," making fun of the Yes on 36 slogan. I told them earnestly, "No. One man, two women." Apparently they hadn't heard that one before; they thought it was pretty funny.)
I'm eating salt. I sometimes eat salt in restaurants. Dave shakes his head and grabs the shaker. "Someone take this away from him. Jesus Christ. He's eating salt."
We disparage Julia Roberts, especially her wide, wide mouth. Dave — the man who finds Lisa Kudrow "almost attractive" — disparages Cameron Diaz. I defend Cameron Diaz. (Even her face, which Dave apparently finds her most offensive feature. "Well, she is kind of ugly," Kris tells me later.)
One of the questions is: "When should you use the Heimlich maneuver?" I think that the correct answer is "never", but the answer they probably want is "for choking". Dave and I argue over which is more dangerous to the victim: the Heimlich maneuver or a slap on the back. (Googling later, I find the correct answer: use the Heimlich maneuver! I was wrong.)
There are several "Name That Tune" questions. Josh does surprisingly well at these. One of the tunes I know is The Final Countdown by Europe. I remark how much the song's keyboards remind me of Only Time Will Tell by Asia (another group named after a continent).
We try to name all of the original band members in Asia. ("The original supergroup," Josh reminds us.) We get Geoff Downes, John Wetton, and Steve Howe, but cannot name the fourth member. (Googling later reveals: Carl Palmer. Duh.)
At the end of the night, we divided the bill. No problem for four brainy guys, right? Wrong.
We each think we've made the correct calculations, but Andrew insists we're coming up a few dollars short. Each of us goes over our total a couple of times and comes up with the same results. We're still a few dollars short. How can this be?
In the end, Andrew realizes he's made a mathematical error in calculating his share of the bill. All the fuss he made was a result of his own error. The standing joke is just waiting to be trotted out for a third time in as many hours, but I let it go.
Life is good.
On this day at foldedspace.org
2003 — Another Reason I Prefer Cats to Dogs In which I cannot sleep because the dog next door won't stop barking.
2002 — Herb Nelson My favorite person I ever met while making sales calls was Herb Nelson.
2001 — Off Kilter In which the Mariners lose the ALCS, I come upon an accident, Fry's sucks, I do not play Diablo, and Kris and I are sick (but we have a nice time anyhow).