When’s the last time you thought about John F. Kennedy’s autobiography? For me, it was at approximately 9 p.m. last Wednesday, when I was desperately hitting the side of my head, trying to shake the name of it out of my brain folds. It’s courage…something. The Red Badge of Courage?
I chewed the lead-end of an increasingly dull pencil. Courage the Cowardly Dog?
“Profiles in Courage?” I said out loud, to nobody in particular. “Does that sound right?”
It was better than nothing — and better than my second choice, Bossypants (the name of the only autobiography I’ve ever read).
My trivia teammates nodded and we waited for the next question, which also involved John F. Kennedy. He would’ve turned 100 this month and, although he celebrated his 45th with Marilyn Monroe’s slinky version of “Happy Birthday” (something that came up two minutes later), this year he’s being commemorated with his own round of questions at the Geeks Who Drink pub quiz.
Last week, four friends and I went to Geeks Who Drink for the first time, frantically whispering answers to each other through mouthfuls of half-chewed burgers. Although it was our first time, Geeks Who Drink has been a weekly event at Small Batch Brewing since 2015, where quizmaster Evan Pease and scorekeeper Darren Hummel seem to have unyielding enthusiasm, even when they’re introducing an all-audio round about celebrities and their medical conditions.
“Evan started hosting and was making a big deal about it,” Hummel said. “In the hope that I could shut him up, I visited a quiz one night, and found that it exceeded my expectations from every other local pub quiz.” Pease invited him to serve as the official scorekeeper, and their after-work partnership was formed. (Both of them have day jobs at MullenLowe, which is one of several Winston-Salem employers that has fired me.)
If you’ve never been, Geeks Who Drink is a Denver-based company that hosts almost nightly pub quizzes at bars and restaurants six days each week in 42 states. (There are no quizzes on Fridays, and no quizzes ever in, like, West Virginia and both Dakotas.) “So technically, you could take a Wednesday quiz at 8 p.m. [at Small Batch] and call your buddy on the West Coast to give them all of the answers, but come on, Rule No. 1 is, ‘Don’t Be a Dick,’” Pease said.
He’s right: Don’t Be a Dick is one of the handful of official statements written in each quiz packet, along with a rule limiting each team to six players and a reminder that using your cell phone is cheating (and also being a dick). There are eight rounds, including one visual round and two audio rounds. The questions cover a little bit of everything as our team, Nostradumbass, quickly learned.
“It helps to have the most diverse team in hopes to cover a lot of different topics,” Hummel said. “For instance, you’ve got the movie nerd, science geek, environmental activist, news nerd and that one player who just knows a lot of random facts.”
My teammates all fit into more than one of those categories, and everyone contributed to our answer sheet — whether that meant naming the host of “Chopped,” explaining what a permutation is or ID-ing Maroon 5 and Lady Gaga during one of the audio rounds. (I was clueless for both of those, largely because I’m still getting caught up on the best records of 1972.)
After the first couple of rounds, Nostradumbass was tied for 8th place. Another couple of rounds later, and we’d inched into a tie for 6th. This was our first quiz, so we weren’t sure how to use the Joker — a literal Joker’s head you could circle on the answer sheet to score double points for one round — so, by default, we didn’t use it until the final eight questions. That worked out in our favor, since there were 24 possible points in that round. We did the intellectual equivalent of a Care Bear stare, combining all of our powers to answer questions about 21st Century Supporting Actresses, Christina Aguilera records and leveraged buyouts.
When Pease started reading the final standings, we were hopeful that we’d done a sloppy, headfirst slide into the Top 5. When he announced the second- and third-place teams, we still thought, “There’s no freaking way.” But, sure enough, Nostradumbass pulled out a win, which couldn’t have been more surprising to… any of us. (That also means that we’re probably stuck with this stupid team name. Confidential to my Teammates: I’m so sorry.)
“Add last night’s performance to Profiles in Courage,” one friend texted our group the next morning. It took me 10 minutes to remember what he meant.