Occasionally, I get calls from friends asking me to be on their charity trivia teams.
Because I write a column for the newspaper, I must be smart and have libraries of irrelevant, useless information stored in my head that would make me an all-star trivia player.
Wrong. I’m not being modest or humble here. I know what I do well and not so well. I’m pretty good at hitting a Wiffle Ball. I’m not good at trivia.
Generally, I don’t retain irrelevant information because I’m working hard to hold on to relevant information. My only exceptions are sports, old TV shows and music from the 1960s-’70s.
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That says a lot about me, I guess. When other kids were learning in school, I was playing sports, listening to KSHE-95, or watching “Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C” or “F Troop” on TV.
But I hit about .300 on those trivia questions, too. One out of every three. That will make you a millionaire in baseball. But in team trivia, it puts you at the bottom of the point board.
I’m pretty good on baseball trivia. Automatically, I knew that Frank Robinson won a Most Valuable Player award in both the National and American leagues in consecutive years.
I’m pretty good on 1960-70s TV shows, too. You’d think I grew up in Mayberry as well as I know Andy, Opie and Barney trivia. Pretty good on “Leave It To Beaver,” too. I start to fade on details of “Welcome Back Kotter” and “The Love Boat,” though.
I’m pretty good at identifying old rock album covers, too. I’m not very good at movies, though, unless they’re related to sports or starred overweight guys like John Candy or Chris Farley.
I thought I’d be a lot better at identifying old advertising slogans but I must not have been paying attention.
I’m OK at literature. But it’s surprising how many books I’ve read but can’t remember who wrote them.
Sometimes, I’m confident that I know the right answer and shout it out boldly.
“Maddox!” I shouted confidently when asked who was private detective played by Andy Griffith on TV in the late 1980s. The answer was Matlock, of course. In trivia, close is still wrong. After I shout out several wrong answers early in the game, I notice my team stops writing down my answers, period. I understand. So I fade.
I always enjoy the audio trivia questions. Normally, the audio equipment fails. It comes down to the emcee putting an iPhone up to a bad microphone with hope the teams can hear and understand the recording. It’s a trivia night. You’d think there’d be at least one nerd in the crowd who could fix the technology.
There’s another weird thing about me and trivia. Often, I know that I once knew the answer. It’s right there, on the edge of my memory, tip of my tongue. The wheel is spinning but the hamster is napping. I’ll remember it. Just give me time.
Another challenge: It’s often OK for adults to enjoy cold refreshments while playing trivia. Thinking and drinking. That’s just never been a successful formula for me.
Over the years, I’ve learned trivia is a lot like golf. It’s humbling. Yes, I could probably use trivia lessons, too. And the level of fun depends greatly on who is on my team. There’s not a longer day than playing a round of golf with a golf snob. And there’s not a longer night than playing trivia with trivia snobs.
My response? Get out the Wiffle Ball. We’ll see who’s rolling his eyes then, Hot Shot!
And sometimes, in golf, you hit a literally perfect tee shot or sink a long putt. Out of nowhere. It keeps you coming back. And sometimes, in trivia, you know an answer to a tough question when no one else knows it.
Bam! “Harper Lee wrote ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ in 1960. ”
For a moment, I feel like Mr. Honor Roll. My team is hesitant but writes it down anyway.
“Where’d that come from?” a friend and teammate will ask. “No idea,” I’ll reply. Just another mystery of how my brain works, and doesn’t work.
A few times each year, I agree to play trivia for a charitable cause. It’s fun as long as expectations are low. If your trivia team’s goal is to donate to a good cause and not finish in last place, and you’re as interested in the cold refreshments and snacks as you are in remembering Sophie was the name of Col. Potter’s horse on “M*A*S*H,” then maybe I’m your guy.