by Julie Leung
Those who say clubbing baby seals is the cruelest activity imaginable have clearly never witnessed a group of “intellectuals” and/or “pop culture enthusiasts” try to work together in an evening of casual trivia at a local bar. With the right mix of hubris, self-doubt and pun-making, this simple game of knowledge can render an evening into a series of heated silences and hurt egos. (The only solution to which — or perhaps a cause in and of itself — is copious amounts of alcohol.)
But what makes trivia in particular socially taxing are certain traits that become manifest in our friends. Among them:
1. The friend who insists on using the same Ron Burgundy Anchorman joke for a team name. Every. Single. Time. First things first, that was seven years ago. Second, hell no. Then there’s the friend who never gets tired of lobbying for “I Quizzed In My Pants.” It’s not that I don’t understand the desire to be clever and funny, but you can only make the trivia jockey cringe so hard.
2. The friend who doubtfully whispers the correct answer, often too softly for anyone to hear. Then when the team happens to choose the wrong answer, he wonders aloud — now at a perfectly normal volume — why no one heard him. This irritating attribute aligns this friend with another trivia companion: the friend who claims to have known all the correct answers but never bothered to say them. Hindsight is 20/20; in trivia, however, it’s Hawkeye/Hawkeye.
3. The Debbie Downer/Doubter who wrinkles her face and injects an ominous “I don’t knooooow” to every suggested answer. Which is all well and fine, except she is also unable to produce alternatives.
4. The friend who will fight the rest of the team to the bloody end in defense of a singular, outlier answer. You think you know someone, until his vehement confidence in knowing Agent Dale Cooper’s favorite style of pie overrides all the goodwill built over ten years of friendship. (It’s cherry, motherfucker, it was always cherry.)
5. The friend who instinctively shouts an answer like a retiree who has just won a round of Bingo at the country house. Thank you, the entire bar would now like to repay your public service with mocking smirks and snickers.
6. The friend who opens his smartphone to check a text and/or email and gets the team called out on for cheating, thereby causing the entire game to be put on hold as we, embarrassed and flustered, have to clear our good name to those around us.
7. The friend who calls everyone else out on the above traits.
Which brings me to this point: an acknowledgment that I’m guilty of manifesting a good handful of these traits whenever playing this most dangerous game. But at the risk of never being invited again, I swear I’ve never been all seven of these people. Not in one night, anyway.
The recipient of both an English and journalism degree, Julie Leung is living proof that two useless degrees is more or less the same as having one. When she’s not tweeting as Middle Earth’s PR agency, you can find her marginally normal, New York City self on TheTrawlr.Tumblr.com and @mad_azn.