Friday, April 21, 2006

You Always Sleep With The Winner Of Trivia Night Day!

For the last fourteen weeks, you've been sleeping with Manny. He's been undefeated at the weekly McCluskey's Bar & Grill's Trivia Night for so long that you swear if someone doesn't beat him soon he's gonna pop the question. Then what'll you say?

I'm sorry Manny, but I always dreamed I'd marry someone for more than their unfailing ability to call up random facts while inebriated and under tremendous pressure. And besides, if we got married and you lost trivia night one week, whether because you had suffered a head injury or because you faced off with some drifter who just seemed to have a superhuman retention of the minutiae of popular culture, well I'd just have no choice but to commit adultery in order to sleep with the winner that week.

That would only make Manny ask you something along the lines of, "Why do you have to sleep with the winner of trivia night every week anyway?"

You haven't come up with an answer to that one yet. Luckily, you won't have to. Not after tonight's Trivia Night.

At tonight's Trivia Night, Manny's going to go up against a new opponent. One who's got an unfamiliar face and shoes that look like they were bought back East. This man will have a manner about him that makes it clear he's not from around here, and there's no way in hell he'll be around for very long. When he joins in the game it'll be apparent that he's playing because he really needs that grand prize of thirty-five dollars cash. Needs it like somebody's life depended on it. He's the drifter you always thought might come along. And goddamn if he doesn't know a whole lot of shit about nothing!

From midway through round one it will be clear who's taking you home tonight. Manny will blank on a question about the TV show Dynasty. But the drifter will look as if he's barely paying attention, and when the question is thrown to him he'll mutter "John Forsythe" as bored as if he were ordering a side of mayo with his chicken club.

The drifter will sweep the next three rounds. Round one, he'll nail the year the first Swatch was sold in America. Round two, he'll breeze to a win on a question about Presidents born in the Bible belt. And round three, he'll slam it home on a two-parter about Peyton Place author Grace Metalious.

By the time they hit the championship round, it will be obvious to everyone in the bar that Manny's reign is over. His fans will have abandoned him in his sweat-drenched tee shirt and table full of empty highball glasses (Manny always drinks more when the game is close) so that they can gather behind the drifter. They'll all want to stand a little bit closer to the winner nobody ever heard of before. They'll try to catch his eye on the rare occasion his gaze leaves his hands folded on the table before him. And they'll all let out a cheer and jump into each other's arms when he brings it all home on a question about the final resting place of Edgar Allen Poe. (How could Manny not have known that one?)

It will take a while for the crowd of well-wishers to part so that you can get closer to him. He'll barely even acknowledge their congratulations. They'll fawn and pander and he'll only offer the slightest of nods in return. You'll be about ready to slap the sycophants aside when the crowd finally thins enough for you to offer a place in your bed to this week's McCluskey's Bar & Grill's Trivia Night winner.

"Hi, I'm�"

"I know who you are," he'll say.

"You do?"

"I do. I've been to this town before," he'll say.

"But I thought I knew everybody who ever passed through here," you'll say with a smile.

"I've been to this town a hundred times," he'll say. "Towns like this, they're all over the country, every one exactly the same. Every one of 'em's got a trivia night where I can win myself some drink money. And every one of 'em's got a lady who'll offer herself up to me just because I know a lot of useless stuff about TV and politics."

"I suddenly feel so�"

"You sure do keep getting prettier though," he'll say. "That's another thing I can count on. With every single town, it gets harder and harder to say to you that I'm just passing through, on my way back to a lady who might not welcome me home. So I'm afraid I'm going to have to decline your invitation, though I do appreciate it."

The drifter will rise from his table and put his hat on his head.

You'll say to him, "No one's ever said no before."

The drifter won't say anything. But he will wait for more from you.

"I don't even know why I do it," you'll tell him. "Why do I feel the need to go home with the winner every week?"

The drifter will say, "Now that is one question I do not have the answer for. Stay warm, pretty lady." And with that he'll head out the door.

You'll feel invisible for a moment, like you're made of nothing. Then you'll spot Manny across the bar, sitting alone at a corner table with his hands wrapped around a mug of beer. The both of you will have had your identities stripped away from you over that last couple of hours, so go and sit with him. He'll take you home tonight and you'll marry him in six months. One day your children will ask when you knew you were supposed to be together. Just tell them you knew right away.

Happy You Always Sleep With The Winner Of Trivia Night Day!