Friday night was the 16th annual Trivia Night to benefit the Center for Autism Education. We have been participating in this event for at least a dozen years, probably a couple more.
The greatest challenge of Trivia Night is not answering the questions, it’s putting the team(s) together. Each team sits around a long table, 4 chairs per side. That means you can have a maximum of 8 people per team. You can have fewer, but you’re still going to pay the same amount for the table so you might as well max it out if you can.
The tables are crammed into the Elks Lodge and if you have 8 people it’s going to be a tight fit, especially when you factor in winter coats, purses and snacks. You wouldn’t want 9 people even if you could have them.
In the beginning it was just me and my Journal peeps. (Laurie goes to volunteer and occasionally sneak us answers. This year she was in charge of selling tickets for the booze basket. She didn’t sneak us any booze. That’s why they trust her.)
Over time we grew out of our table because someone would have to drop out one year so we’d bring in someone new but then the original person would want back in the next year and we couldn’t just punt the new person and we’ve never had the same lineup 2 years in a row, so, you know…expansion.
And then Laurie’s friends decided they wanted to participate so, you know, expansion. And then I wound up at the ARC and people there wanted to participate so, you know, expansion. We have it pretty much down to 2 tables a year, with lots of mixing and matching of people. Fortunately we all get along.
Usually I take charge of putting the teams together but last year Laurie jumped the gun on me, which was fine by me — let her deal with it. And all worked out fine, except she forgot to invite my ARC pals, and I heard about it later. So this year I made it a point to invite all the usual suspects and we quickly had our 16 participants.
Then Trent decided we needed 1 more.
“I’m bringing a friend. Is that OK?”
At first I thought she was joking. We went through this same conversation some years back and I had to politely explain to her how math works. As she continued to press the issue, I realized that she was serious.
Since we usually have at least one person bail before showtime, I just let it be. Sure enough, a week before the event Mary Beth had to bow out. And then Trent had to excuse herself as well. And then Yellow took a pass — for reasons that were TOTALLY UNACCEPTABLE. “I had to work hard today and I’m tired” is not a valid excuse for leaving your teammates in a lurch.
Meanwhile, I started thinking maybe I should invite my new Etrailer buddies. After all, as long as there are enough of them for their own table, it should all work out. I invited Leah, who didn’t know what a trivia night was, then Amy, who used the excuse that she would be having a baby about that same time, then Victoria, who said she would be celebrating Christmas that night. Some people will do anything to get out of trivia.
I had given up on the idea when I was talking to my editor, the other Leah, who expressed interest in putting a team together. Does the CAE appreciate all that I do for them? I think not, it’s all about Laurie and how she volunteers all the time.
Now I had to tell my current teammates that, in addition to competing with a bunch of strangers for trivia glory, we would be competing with Team Etrailer.
“Are they going to beat us?” says Erica.
“I doubt it. Unless there is a category on trailer hitches and automotive supplies we should be good. Besides, this is their first time — we’ve got a dozen years professional experience over these guys.”
Game night finally arrives and plays out like usual. It was the same guy running the show as always and creating the same issues: too many horse races, too many needless videos, too much time wasting in general…the thing just goes on too long. Is anyone at the CAE reading this? I point this out Every Year. I couldn’t even get everyone in the team photo because they were all in such a hurry to leave when it was over that I missed some people.
Still, it is a fun time. My team started out strong but then we fell a few points behind and once that happens you can never dig yourself out. I blame Yellow and her slothfulness. She probably knew who Taco was.
Stevie’s team maintained a solid lead for most of the show but stumbled in the final rounds. I think it was Sports that did them in. And Taco.
So who came out on top in our group? You guessed it. Team Etrailer, in their first year of competition, finished in third place.
Once I let my jealousy subside, I pretended to be happy for them.
(In case you’re curious, Taco is the one-hit wonder who recorded a synth-pop remake of Irving Berlin’s classic tune “Puttin’ on the Ritz” back in 1982. You didn’t know that? Neither did anyone else.)