Everyone who knows me understands that I have a jones for competitive trivia competitions. Maybe it goes back to 1981, when my Street Academy high school team annihilated three other high schools on a local television quiz show.
For the past three years, I've been playing trivia competitions at local bars, restaurants and taverns, playing as that one-man "Street Academy" team and winning my fair share of games. I've picked up victories this year at several bars in the Capital Region area, including Graney's, Old Chicago (several times), Elbo Room, Broadway Joe's, Brown's Brewing and Recovery Room.
How dominant was I at Recovery Room? After winning three times in six weeks, management told me I was ineligible to win there any more - because other people were complaining that it wasn't fair that I won all the time. Think about this for a second. This is like telling the New York Yankees that for the rest of the season, Derek Jeter has to wear a blindfold in the infield, Mariano Rivera has to spit the baseball over the plate, and Alex Rodriguez has to step in the batter's box with a table leg because someone on the Kansas City Royals squad whined too much that the Yankees were beating them too often. Frickin' crybabies.
This trivia season, however, has been a case of "just a few points short" in the major events. I missed the first $1000 Elbo Room tournament championship by one miserable point. I lost the 2008 Trivia Bowl on a question that nobody knew - and the only team that won put in a 3-point "safe bet" and took the trophy home. And after six weeks of hard-fought battle at the Saratoga Trackside Trivia Tournament, I missed one key question about the location of the first McDonald's and watched as Tres Hombres, for the second year in a row, got the end-of-track-season trackside barbeque and a race named after their team.
How frustrating was it? In July 2008 I tried out for "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire," aced the written test, aced the interview, aced a second interview - and six weeks later, received the generic post card that informed me that I was not selected to be a contestant. I rationalized the snub by figuring I fit in the demographic of the white 40ish slightly balding, slightly paunchy glasses-wearing college-educated contestants that would have taken all their money. Believe me, game shows learned their lesson after watching Ken Jennings run the table on Jeopardy! for the better part of two months, they don't want me repeating the feat.
So the ultimate dream for me in 2009 would be the following:
1. Winning this year's Elbo Room Trivia Tournament.
2. Winning the Trivia Bowl and getting the championship chalice back.
3. Winning the Saratoga Trackside Trivia Tournament, and cheering on the winner of the first annual Street Academy Stakes.
4. Finally getting my shot on a competitive trivia television show like Jeopardy! or Millionaire or even that 5th Grader show.
Can I do it - if I can't, it won't be for lack of trying.