Bar trivia… in a library


Ever since watching The Office episode where they do bar trivia, I thought it looked like a lot of fun, and for some reason, I thought I’d be good at it.

The Office

THE OFFICE — “Trivia” Episode 811 — Pictured: (l-r) Ellie Kemper as Kelly Erin Hannon, Mindy Kaling as Kelly Kapoor, Brian Baumgartner as Kevin Malone, Kate Flannery as Meredith Palmer — Photo by: Chris Haston/NBC

When I saw the flier at my local library for a trivia night, I knew I had to give it a go.

The hubs agreed that it sounded like an interesting way to spend an evening. I asked Dwight, one of the smartest guys I know, to join us. He used to work at a company that put together trivia games that you’d sometimes see on airplanes or in restaurants. He even won The Weakest Link back in the day.

So, yeah, good hands. But would it be enough? If I was going to do this thing, I wanted to win, darn it!

Then I remembered Dwight’s former coworker at the trivia place. We’ve spent every Super Bowl with Pam and her family for too many years to remember. I once heard her say, “They asked me to course-correct when I was two feet from the ground.” I mean, what person with a normal-sized brain uses that turn of phrase?

I needed her for my team. Her husband, Jim, too.

When I asked Dwight to invite them, he responded that they were all too eager to join in.

That’s when I started getting nervous.

All too eager…

When I signed up our players at the library, I was told we’d be put into teams. I wanted to be sure we’d all be on the same team, so I squeezed our names onto one line and only included my phone number for contact purposes.

“What if they tell us our group is too large? What if they separate us and we have to compete AGAINST the Halperts?” I asked my husband.

“Maybe we should split up the couples so that we both still have a chance to win something?” He half-joked.

I spent far too much time contemplating the viability of that plan before ruling against it. Let there be no mistake, these people were mine. All mine.

The morning of The Day, I instant messaged Dwight:

Are you excited for tonight??
Sorry. Only meant to put one ? on that. Not even I’m THAT excited.
I’m actually a little nervous that I’ll be useless. My only claim to fame is that it was my idea. Unless there’s a question on 90s grunge bands from Seattle, I might just be a seat filler.
I’m nervous I’ll be useless too. I’ve been out of the trivia game for a long time.
And my 90s grunge band knowledge is pretty bad so that’s a good thing.
Then I expect the Halperts to carry the day.
They better.

As we walked into the library that night, I saw several children. “Oh, good. Kids. we can take them,” I remarked to Dwight and my husband.

Then the crowd parted and I saw that Jim and Pam had brought their kids as well.

“Oh no. Halpert kids. They can probably take us on their own.”

Dwight snickered.

We joined their crew and surveyed the room. Small groups were seated at tables. Many were teens or younger. No great concern there. Then a couple of adult pairs. Hmm. And a lone gentleman in an orange shirt.

“They told us we can be in groups as large or small as we want,” Pam announced. “We could split up,” she suggested.

No time to be silent.

“That would mean competing against you, so I’d rather not,” I said.

“Okay.” Pam smiled back.


And then it began.

The first question was easy. “According to the phrase, where does charity begin?”

By some unspoken decision, Pam was in charge of writing our answers. She wrote “at home.”

Then a song played, during which, everyone could turn in their answers. Dwight filled the  time by pointing out that the Halperts had been studying geography, teaching themselves (for fun!) the countries and capitals of the world.

See what I was up against?

Their skills immediately came in handy, however, as the next question was which South American country was bordered by Bolivia, Brazil, and Argentina.

Paraguay and Uruguay were bandied around.

“One of those is on the coast,” Dwight said.

“I remember that Paraguay is land-locked,” I said, and that seemed to settle it. It was one of those otherwise useless facts that’s been floating in my head since high school Spanish class. Who knew it would come in handy?


I patted myself on the back for having been useful. I figured it would be the last time. Though I’m sure they would’ve gotten it without me.

The answer to two movie questions involved actors I’d never heard of, but the others knew. At the sports questions I just leaned back in my chair and kept silent. Dwight felt some vindication by knowing the answer to what baseball team won the World Series in ’92 and ’93, beating The Braves and The Phillies.

“How could I not remember this, being a Phillies fan?” Dwight said as he took the paper and filled in Toronto Blue Jays in all caps.

Then he gave us the breakdown: “Bottom of the ninth, up by… {foreign language to me. Insert something plausible here.}… They won it with a home run, and to this day I have not seen that home run. Nor will I ever,” he declared.

I was pleased he was able to get that off his chest, and have his pain put to good use.

A question about the show Frasier was an easy one for my husband and me, as it’s our favorite comedy, though Dwight was the first to jump in with the answer.

We all knew what an ichthologist studies. Pam put it together because the classic fish symbol you see on bumper stickers is the Greek letter, “ichthys,” she informed us.


Thank you, Yahoo image search.

“I knew it from the Far Side comic where a goldfish is floating upside down in a bowl on stage. The performer calls, ‘Is there an ichthologist in the house?’ You may know Greek, but I know Far Side comics. Which is really more impressive?” Then I pushed my lips off the to the side and spread my hands.

They laughed. That’s when I realized my purpose in our group: Make with the jokes.

There was some discussion on the question of which European island was ranked the most peaceful nation in a 2015 study. Ireland was discounted easily. I was proud of my hubby for throwing in Malta as an option. I would never have come up with that. Pam offered up what ended up being the correct answer and the one we settled on: Iceland.

“But what about the snowball fights?” I asked, earning the requisite laugh.


“Hester Prynne & Pearl before the stocks”, an illustration by Mary Hallock Foote from an 1878 edition of The Scarlet Letter [Wikipedia]

Pam knew The Pointer Sisters, Hester Prynne, the H. M. S. Bounty, and that the word jumble (which I had high hopes of solving first) was the word “annoyance.”

Tell me about it.


Hubs and several others knew Dukakis ran for president in ’88. We all knew that the joker said to the thief that there must be some way out of here and that the patella is the knee cap.

All the while, I kept my eye on Orange Shirt. He was our biggest competition. I watched his reaction as the correct answers were read, reporting to the group, whether they cared or not.

“Oh shoot. He smiled.”

“Good news! I could tell he just wrote a zero on his score card.”

“Dang. Orange shirt got his answer in really quickly. That’s not a good sign.”

At half time we were neck and neck. The man was a force to be reckoned with. Though initially plotting his demise, I felt bad that he was alone. “At least it’s a Thursday night, not a Friday,” I pointed out.

Then my time to shine arrived.

“What is a kapok?”

I knew that word…

While the team looked at one another with wrinkled foreheads, I stared at the wall above their heads, wracking my brain.

Then it hit me. My daughter’s Kindergarten history lesson on South America. We read a book about the Amazon Rain Forest called The Great Kapok Tree.


It’s neat looking, no? [Yahoo images]

I leaned in and whispered, “It’s a tree!”

Pam looked at me with her brow furrowed. “You sure?”


“Okay,” she shrugged and wrote it down. Her son ran the answer in.

I had until the end of the song to sweat my answer. What if I was somehow wrong? Mentally I bit a fingernail until the song ended and the game leader reread the question and at last said, “And the answer is apparently… a tree.”

Whew. I’d done it. As I’d hoped, the homeschooling paid off. I graciously accepted the team’s congratulations.

The only questions we missed were where Brown University was (Rhode Island) and what magazine was formerly called Modern Maturity (AARP).

At the half-time question, we could only think of two of the seven Matt Damon movies beginning with the word “The” between 2006 and 2015, not including the Bourne movies. Hubs remembered The Martian, and I confirmed Dwight’s guess of The Good Shepherd.

Hubs and I kicked ourselves for having forgotten The Adjustment Bureau and The Monuments Men since we’d seen those. The Halperts were equally ashamed for missing The Departed. The Informant was worthy of forgetting. Sorry, Matt. And none of us had ever heard of The Zero Theorem.

When final jeopardy arrived, we were told we could choose our  wager, between 0-15 points. Orange Shirt only trailed us by 9 with 55 points to our 64. We bet 7 for the win. The question was to put in chronological order: Tiger Woods winning his first U.S. Open, Dale Earnhardt Sr. dying in the Daytona 500, Lennox Lewis defeating Mike Tyson, and Lance Armstrong winning his seventh Tour de France.

The order I’ve listed them is the correct order. It was not, however, the order we listed them.

I covertly watched Orange Shirt. His lip pursed nearly imperceptible.

“He didn’t get it!” I whispered to the team.

Final score: We went down to 57, but Orange Shirt, having bet the full 15, ended with 40. It was enough to get him second place: a tote bag, a lime green frisbee, and two Cinepolis movie theater tickets.



We earned the same but three movie tickets, which amounted to one for each family. Though I secretly coveted that frisbee, it being only one of two “sports” I excel at, the other being badminton. But it seemed only right that the kids got it. Pam was quite pleased to take it. She certainly deserved it.

Before we left, a librarian took a group photo for the Facebook page. She also brought more movie tickets so we each got one. Very kind of her.

But the best part of the evening was my darling husband walking over to congratulate Orange Shirt for a fierce competition, complimenting him for fighting so valiantly while flying solo whereas we had an army of minds working together. The man replied that his wife took him to these every now and then. He came tonight just for fun.

When hubs reported this back to me, I said, “Oh good, he has a wife! He’s not alone. And now he can treat her to a movie.”

I always like to cheer for the underdog. Except when it’s not us, of course. 🙂

I lay in bed last night thanking God for the evening being fun and for me not making a fool of myself. I also smiled that He answered my unofficial prayer of being able to know something from my homeschooling. It’s not the first time an answer has come as though from prayer, when it was only a wishful thought, not an actual request. He’s pretty great like that.

And now, to check the movie listings. Our 13th wedding anniversary is next week!

Thank you for reading. I hope you learned something trivial!

Have you ever gone to a trivia night? Does it sound like fun to you? Did you know the answer to any of those questions? And, yes, I did replace the names of my friends with names of characters from The Office. If you caught that, kudos to you!


36 responses »

  1. I am terrible at trivia and avoid it at all costs, but a library sounds at least approachable 🙂 I do feel a little smarter having read this post, so thanks! Happy Anniversary!


  2. Well, you had a lot of fun, and that’s more important, isn’t it? Of course, it’s easier to say something like that after winning 😀
    Happy anniversary in advance 🙂


  3. I’ve never participated in a trivia night . . . I’m so terrible at trivia . . . and I wouldn’t have been able to answer any of the questions you mentioned. But you do make it sound like fun.

    Earlier this year I participated in my first “murder mystery” night out–it was a social event that Hubby wanted to go. I wasn’t very good at that either. But it was a lot of fun!


    • The key to winning trivia night is by going with smart people! 🙂 And I did a murder mystery dinner thing once. It was fun to observe, though I didn’t really get myself involved. Other people dressed up in 20s garb. It was still a neat experience.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Dressing up in 20s garb was the best part 🙂 and laughing at everybody trying to stay in their role. I was horrible at trying to keep track of who was who and figure out who did it, though.


      • Yeah, me neither. Just like with trivia night, I let the other people at the table carry the day. At least, in both instances, I was the one who organized the event. Then I didn’t feel like a total slacker! 🙂 (Well, and knowing what a kapok is!) 😉

        Liked by 1 person

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