Trivia Fright Night

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Ca-Ching! The Red Sox pitcher with the most innings pitched…Tim Wakefield! Photo/Lorraine Angelo

I have this recurring nightmare where I’m about to accumulate thousands of dollars in cash and prizes on Jeopardy when I’m faced with a Final Jeopardy category of Hungarian Opera or Ships of the Vatican City Fleet.

All of it. It all goes down into the belly of the beast as a tiny voice in the back of my dreaming head says, “You know nothing. Nothing at all.”

A real-time nightmare occurred on Election Night 2016 when Lorrie and I sought repast and stimulus at a watering hole lest our brains explode with projections, electoral votes and commercials for Visine. Certainly, going out for Trivia Night would prove a few brain cells were left undamaged. But a strange happened on the way to the quorum. Things so strange our beloved democracy has yet to recover.

Dinner, drinks and doughnuts were going smoothly enough until I jotted down “July 4, 1776” as the date the Declaration of Independence was approved by the Continental Congress.

“The answer is July 4, 1976,” the moderator said.

“You mean 1776,” I said.

“No, the answer card says 1976.”

“Well, the card is wrong. It’s a misprint. These things happen.”

“I’m going with the answer on the card of 1976,” he said definitively.

“Unlike you, I was alive in 1976,” I said a little too forcefully.

Oops. I’d gone a number too far. We paid and left before I got trivially banned.

We were driving home when Lorrie said, “Did you notice that no one else complained about the 1976 answer? Did they really think it was 1976 or were we just at The Stepford Wives Trivia Night?”

The tone was set for four years of alternative facts and we hadn’t been to another trivia night until this week.


Wednesday night trivia at KC’s Rib Shack is only for the daring. Photo/Lorraine Angelo

No need for pencil and paper at KC’s Rib Shack’s Wednesday night trivia. All you need is a smartphone to scan the app. Fortunately, Lorrie owns such a phone. I just got a Verizon upgrade to a 3G flip phone.

“No paper, no cells, no cheating,” moderator Sean O’Brien explained. “There’s not enough time to look up answers without getting locked out. That’s half the game.”

We found that out in a hurry as our team name of “Xena’s Team” got abbreviated to “Xena’s Tea” as Lorrie wasn’t quite fast enough with her thumbs. Good thing she didn’t try our dog’s entire name of “Xena: Warrior Princess.”

The two-hour format was easy enough. Five categories with 15 questions each. The winner of each round got a KC’s $5 wooden nickel and a trinket or two. The grand prize for total best score was a $100 KC’s gift certificate.

We were two questions late for the first category of Vintage Ads. It was easy enough to pick out Ronald Reagan’s chin in an ad for Chesterfield cigarettes, but we guessed wrong as to whether turn-of-the-century Toothache Drops were laced with opium or cocaine, and who ever heard of “Oh-Oh! Oreos!” over “Oh-Oh! Spaghettios!”

13th place out of 19 teams.

The second category, Boston Red Sox, had me hopeful. Bucky “Bleepin’” Dent and Ted Williams were no-brainers but Yawkey Street getting renamed Jersey Street and Babe Ruth getting sold to the Yankees not to finance the musical “No, No, Nanette,” but instead “My Lady Friends,” had us calling to the bullpen.

8th place out of 21 teams.

The down time between rounds led to well-placed insults. Co-moderator Dave Clark doomed himself with this remark: “Are you calling us Penn and Teller because we’re not funny either?” 

Yes, we knew D.B. Cooper and that Lindbergh’s plane The Spirit of St. Louis was not named The Pride of Poughkeepsie in the category Flying the Friendly Skies. But we made no headway on the teams 50 Nerds of Gray and PeeCee Herman. 

The Trivia Grab Bag category? I knew that The Red Vineyards was the only painting Van Gogh sold in his lifetime, but I didn’t know SpongeBob SquarePants wore brown pants, and therein lies the rub of pastels. The trivia was not easy, which is a plus, but where one would accumulate such knowledge is iffy. Another plus in that it wasn’t geared only toward today’s generation or toward geezers like me, Lorrie pointed out.

After the Even Stevens category we moved up to 6th place out of 24 teams total.

Bring on the Hungarian Fleet. I’m saving for a smart phone.


About this Author

John Angelo

John Angelo’s humor has appeared in “Publisher’s Weekly,” “Writer’s Digest,” and “American Bookseller.” He is a frequent contributor to the “New Hampshire Business Review.” For a Christmas concert at his Catholic grammar school, the nuns told him to mouth the words and that he’d better not make a sound under any circumstances.