I love trivia. 27% of your bones are in your feet. See?
I don’t remember signing up for our local vegan restaurant’s newsletter, but much like REI, they must add every local lesbian to their mailing list automatically.
(Seriously, I have never given any information to REI and yet they send me coupons every week. Which I am happy to use!).
Anyway, when I got the vegan restaurant’s newsletter that said they were having a trivia night, I sent up a group text flare to A, Stella, my sister, and my sister’s boyfriend Steve.
My preliminary expert designations were as follows:
Stella: Music, Pop Culture, Fine Art/Design, Serial Killers and Cults
Steve: Sports, Math, Lord of the Rings, Domestic Terrorists
Sister: Cellular/Molecular Biology, the Aztecs, Horses
A: Law, Birds
Me: Film/TV/Literature, Anatomy, Theme Parks
Between the five of us, we would have pretty much anything and everything covered. Sure, our knowledge of history might be a little lacking—my sister used to think that the sinking of the Titanic started World War I—but we would prevail.
But of course, my sister and Steve had to travel for a wedding and A had to work—so it was just Stella and I.
“If there are any questions about classic rock or how many bones are in the human body, we are golden,” I said.
Stella grabbed the same table out on the patio that we had for lesbian bingo night, because she is a great friend. And because she’s the greatest friend, she had a gift for me.
“When you open it, try not to scream,” she said. Thank goodness she said something, because this made me so happy I dropped my slice of vegan pizza.
She’d picked up a hand-painted E.T. figure at an estate sale. Whoever painted him clearly treasured him enough to keep him for 30 years, yet they didn’t give him pupils, which scooted him just over the line into creepy territory.
And that fact just made me love him more.
“I might cry from happiness,” I said. But I quickly got myself together. We had a trivia game to win.
“All right! Who’s ready for some cruelty-free trivia?!” boomed the MC, who happened to be the same lady who ran the lesbian bingo. She’s hilarious and really knows how to project her voice across a room. The trivia game was actually set up by our local library, and the MC proudly informed us that because the questions were all written by librarians, every answer had at least three verifiable sources.
We picked our team name in honor of the off-brand Montessori hippie school that we both attended. We both got chicken pox and didn’t learn very much about multiplication, but we know how to make anything out of a cereal box and some paper towel rolls.
The first round was “Food.” Our excitement over hours and hours spent watching Chef’s Table and British Bake-Off potentially paying off at last quickly diminished when we realized all the questions were about vegan food.
“What kind of deactivated yeast is also a source of Vitamin B12?”
“Crap,” we both said. We couldn’t even name one deactivated yeast.
“Didn’t they teach you about yeasts at your baking classes?” said Stella.
“They taught me about normal yeasts,” I said. “Not this deactivated garbage.”
So we had to leave that one blank. But we did get “What fermented food is traditionally buried in pots?” (Stella knew that—kimchi) and “What bumpy fruit native to Asia is high in protein?” (I guessed jackfruit because they grow that in the Land ride at Epcot and it is indeed bumpy. Theme park expertise for the win!).
But all told, we only got 7 out of 10. Another team took the prize (a T-shirt with the library’s logo! I NEED IT).
We chalked that up to bad luck and got pumped up for the second round. Sure, the first one had been a bit of a niche, but surely the second round would have some questions about the Golden Age of Hollywood, right?
The second round was “Social Movements,” and we high-fived. Now we were talking. Our adrenaline was pumping with an assist from a delicious quadruple layer gluten-free chocolate cake that we destroyed by question 3.
The fourth question was a two-pointer: “Name the author and title of the book credited with starting the environmental movement.”
“Silent Spring. Rachel Carson,” I said, with 1000% confidence, because when your entire education is administered by hippies, there are just some things you never forget.
“The answer is Rachel Carson and Silent Spring!” said the MC. “Our sister, Rachel Carson. She loved the ladies, and she loved the environment. Okay!”
Wow, the hippies never told me that one.
We also nailed questions about Occupy Wall Street, the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire, and the first LGBT activist at the University of Michigan. But we didn’t know the name of the #MeToo founder (So sorry, Tarana Burke) or what political activist’s release from jail over a couple of joints sparked the first Ann Arbor Hash Bash in the ’70s.
After much deliberation, Stella wrote “Cheech!” and we just hoped for the best.
We didn’t win that round either.
Now it was getting dark and even though only a couple of menu items at this place are not gluten-free, Stella had managed to consume enough of one that she was feeling sick.
“I need to lay down,” she moaned. “This is just like in kindergarten when I ate too much pizza and had to go home.”
“I shouldn’t have given you my extra slice,” I said. “I need you, buddy. We could still turn this around.”
With the resolve of a gladiator, she buckled up for round 3—”Ann Arbor History.”
“God dammit,” we said, at the same time. We honestly have not changed that much from kindergarten.
Even ride or die townies like us weren’t able to remember the name of a bakery that closed in 1993 (seriously?) or a sandwich shop that served “really good limeade” but closed its doors in 2000. So we were struggling.
Until this question: “What musician wrote the song ‘Night Moves’ based on his teenage days partying in the Ann Arbor area?”
Stella was singing the song and scribbling the answer before the question even ended.
“Bob Seger! He wrote that song when he was sixteen! I have the record on vinyl!”
“That’s why you’re the music expert!”
“That would be my ideal Ann Arbor day, ” said the MC. “Go kayaking, go to the farmer’s market, go to the library and get our reserved books, and then rage.”
All told, we got six right—but someone else got all ten questions right, so we went home empty-handed, and failed to win the prize for best performance overall, which was a $50 gift card to said vegan restaurant.
“Dammit,” I said. “That would cover a month of Taco Tuesdays!”
But I left with the greatest prize of all: E.T.’s pupil free eyes hypnotizing me all the way home. I’m still debating where to put him—he obviously belongs with plants because he and his fellow aliens are botanists. Maybe he can use his powers to perk mine up a bit.
I did use a Sharpie to give him some pupils—at last, he can see!
By the way, did you know that Melissa Mathison, who wrote E.T., was Harrison Ford’s first wife?
Hopefully that’ll be covered in our next game!