Trivia Night at the Arena
by Charmie Gholson
I try to keep a low profile when on assignment. It makes things easier and keeps my experience more true to life. However, it's far less feasible, or necessary, for an Observer photographer to be inconspicuous. For starters, Adrian Wylie is six and a half feet tall, and when he's draped in his arsenal of fancy camera equipment, gliding about in search of that perfect shot, he's as unobtrusive as a glowing, dancing giraffe.
By the time I show up at the Arena's Tuesday night Trivia Quiz, Adrian has been doing his thing for a full forty minutes. Everyone knows who we are and why we're here. I decide to make the best of it.
Adrian fills me in on what he's learned. The team of Aimee Bingham and Aaron Branham make up the questions and facilitate the party. Different tables compete for points. There are lots of regulars, one of them being a local radio personality who sometimes acts as mediator for the sports questions. Let me clue you in on a bit of barroom trivia etiquette. You do not shout out the answers when the question is read. Everyone will look at you, annoyed. Instead, write them down and hand them in at the end of the round. Like a good girl.
Aimee starts a new round of questions: What is the murder capital of the United States? In 1968, what baby doctor was indicted for encouraging draft dodgers? What former ER actor's father is running for Congress from Kentucky? What year was Diet Coke introduced?
We scribble our answers, and Aimee comes by to collect them. Then she reads the correct answers and announces the winning teams. There are six tables, and they all have bizarre names, some of them graphically sexual. Just as I think we're slipping unnoticed into the background, Aimee realizes we don't have a team name and christens us "The Observer Porno Stars." Great.
Next, the Binghams play portions
of songs, mostly by 1980s hair bands, and we have to identify the artists and titles. It looks as if we might actually be winning until it's time for the interactive competitions, and yes, I'm talking about Twister. Several mats are taped together and loaded up with contestants. A girl with a teeny Princess Leia bun on either side of her head stands up and does comic, mock gymnastic warm-ups. She does pretty well in the game too. More trivia follow, and then a good old-fashioned staring contest. One finalist keeps a pretty impressive deadeye stare on his opponent while maintaining his metered intake of cigarette smoke and beer.
As we pack up to leave, Aimee is still reading off questions, challenging entire tables of students unwilling to give up. I'm not exactly eager to head out into the cold either, but it is getting late, and we aging literary porno stars need our beauty rest.
[Originally published in February, 2004.]