Friday, May 14, 2021

Life & Style

Trivial Matters

It’s getting later in the evening and the tension is peaking. We’re all leaned forward, eyeballing each other and whispering. Do you know? No? Do you? I might. Really? Okay, what do you think? This one or this one? This one. Are you sure? Everyone good with that? Okay, let’s go for it.

It’s trivia night at the ole dock house.

I’ve never been big on games. I’m not competitive in the slightest, so I don’t get into the sport of it. However, put me at the bar with a cosmo and a plate of buffalo shrimp and I’m happy no matter what’s going on around me. The way I figure it, my martini tastes the same whether we win or lose. Turns out, though, that trivia night is a lot of fun.

The team I’m on is called “Dammit Janet” in reference to Rocky Horror Picture Show. I saw Rocky Horror only once. That was way back when I was in college, so I don’t remember a lot about it, but the name has a nice ring to it. It kind of flows off the tongue. There are a bunch of other teams that play, but my favorite other team name is “Losing to ‘Dammit Janet.’”

Yeah, we do seem to win a lot. It says something that another team calls us out in its name.

There’s a reason why we win a lot and it’s definitely not me. However, I am the ringer, the master of crazy, utterly useless factoids that have no value except once in a lifetime to answer a random trivia question. Even if we win, if I don’t get at least one incredulous stare followed by, “How in the world did you know that?” I don’t consider it a successful night.

Can any of you readers remember who hosted the first season of American Idol alongside Ryan Seacrest? No? It was Brian Dunkleman. I’m not proud that I know that. I’m not proud at all as I pull that fact out of the recesses of my memory bank like pulling a lantern fish from the murky deep with a thin fishing line and a tiny hook. All I know is, when the question is tossed out like a bucket of chum, there surfaces Brian Dunkleman. Not just his face. His face and his full name.

Why? I don’t know.

The real reason why we win a lot is that my teammates have a lot of knowledge in a lot of areas. Quint specializes in music. Well, as long as it’s not from the years after we emerged into a new millennium. We all have our limits. We are a well-rounded team. We have someone who knows sports, someone who knows science, and everyone but me knows history. We even have a librarian.

In school I sat in the back of the class and far too often raised my hand to go to the girl’s lav and never came back. Still, I like to think if we win by a Brian Dunkleman hair, it’s due to my one crazy answer of the night.

I drain my cosmo and consume my shrimp throughout the course five rounds. By the end of the game I’m sated with spirits and sated spiritually. Vodka and seafood have a way of doing that. So does the company of good friends.

The very last question of the night is always a double-or-nothing question. If you get it right, your score for Round 5 is doubled. If you get it wrong, you get zippo. We all lean in like surgeons and dissect our chances for getting the answer correct. Is it worth the risk? Will we be okay if we don’t take the chance?

I’m usually in favor of going for it. Makes the whole thing more interesting.

Alas, the inevitable happens and it calls for a (temporary?) name change. The next week, my team re-dubs itself, “Losing to ‘Losing to Dammit Janet.’”

Juliana Gribbins is a writer who believes that absurdity is the spice of life. Her book Date Expectations is winner of the 2017 Independent Press Awards, Humor Category and winner of the 2016 IPPY silver medal for humor. Write to her at Read more of her columns at

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