Friday, December 30, 2005

The Pursuit of Victory

When you’re a kid, your parents whoop your ass in things like Monopoly and Scrabble, or any other leisure activity that requires strategy and experience. There’s no secret as to why this happens—young children are simply too uneducated and ignorant to beat accomplished adults in Risk tournaments. I, too, received my fair share of romp-stompings as a tyke, and the game of choice was that trivia-based bastard of a game, Trivial Pursuit.

We played it every New Year’s Eve all the way through the end of high school. The Children versus The Adults, an age-old battle (so to speak) between intelligent people and their offspring. My family, along with two close friend families, would lay out the board around 9:00pm, pour some Welch’s Sparkling Grape Juice, and get the dice rolling shortly thereafter…

Usually, it was six adults going up against seven children, which sounds like we would have had a slight advantage. However, numbers and statistics are misleading. The Adults had my friend Marty’s mother Joan on their team. Joan taught (and teaches) French at a semi-prestigious Catholic high school, and watches Jeopardy like it’s her religion. I’m not kidding—she’s got more skill than Rosie Perez’s character on “White Men Can’t Jump.” The woman knows her foods that start with the Letter Q. As a child, Marty and I would play Ninja Turtles in the living room while Joan watched Jeopardy, and as sure as I stand before you today, handsome and upright, she would answer 85-90% of those questions correctly, IN question form. She’s something of a genius, but never auditioned for the show because she was afraid she’d freeze up in front of all the millions of people.

But on New Year’s Eve, there are far less than millions of people, and Joan usually hustled our young asses like Bill Gates at a computer inventing contest. Shortly after the end of the game (which was almost always a New Year’s frustration for the losing children), we’d despondently count down from ten, watching The Ball in Times Square drop and light up. Every January first, at 12:01am, we made a resolution: Next year, we beat our parents at Trivial Pursuit.

Overly dramatic? Yes. And we never actually made verbal resolutions to earn retribution. Actually, after I graduated high school in 2000, I sort of forgot about Trivial Pursuit. All seven children, similarly college-aged, had gone off to school and had begun attending their own New Year’s Eve gatherings, away from the Usual Routine. The whole vendetta to beat the parents just… disappeared…

That is, until a few short nights ago, when amazingly, five of the seven children reassembled, along with all six parents (and a few add-ons: two other Adult players and my lovely girlfriend, Amy, who proved crucial in the outcome of the match—you’ll see). We laid out the game board, selected the orange pie pan, and handed the pink pan to our parents (David, one of The Children, did this symbolically to send a message. For the first ten years of his life, David’s father, a Michigan graduate, told David that the Notre Dame football team wore pink jerseys. David believed this, but didn’t let it affect his decision on what college to attend. He is now the student body president of Notre Dame University). Then, we were ready to rumble.

Joan answered her usual plethora of questions, but The Children jumped out to a huge 4 pie piece to 2 pie piece lead. Adam spoke in tongues, answering the majority of the People & Places questions. None of the sports questions, usually a strength for us, had ANYTHING to do with sports (ex—What former NBA star was given a baton scholarship in college? I’m serious. That was a real question). The game was full of nonsense, but The Children had a strong lead and looked absolutely dominating.

Desperate, the parents actually CALLED the husband of one of the two new Adult women to answer a sports question for a pie, and as a result they got a controversial pie piece, which we complained about for the rest of the night. Later, the parents woke up a sleeping “team member” to answer a question about boy scout badges. This earned them a second contentious pie. I felt like the Anaheim Angels in the 2005 ALCS when AJ Pierzynski “stole” first. Everything was going The Adults’ way, until eventually, we each had our pie pans full and were aiming from the center space. It was neck-and-neck, and both teams botched very difficult questions for the win. Finally, we got our pie into the middle and awaited the final question. It read:

“What does TTFN mean when signing off an internet chat?”

All of us had read this expression before, and most of us had an inkling that the FN stood for “for now,” but none of us could answer the question. Suddenly, my girlfriend, who had been sitting on the floor in front of me, turns rigid and bolts out an answer. She said, “Ta-Ta for now!” And by God, she was right! Amy, who had sat there almost silently (though quietly answering the correct answers to obscure questions in my ear), came up with a clutch answer! I’ll tell you what, people: It. Felt. Good.

So that was that. The Children finally took home the proverbial Trivial Pursuit trophy. It wasn’t on New Year’s, and a few or the original 13 were replaced with some newcomers, but it was good. It was nice to see all of those people, because we haven’t been together like that in a few years. All joking aside, it was a much-appreciated belated Christmas gift. I’ve had a wonderful break, and I hope yours have all been great too.

Happy New Year, everybody!

No comments: