On every other night, it’s just a typical suburban, slightly-overpriced bistro. But on Monday nights, it’s an Arena. A Field of Battle. Those few, those happy few, who walk through the doors of Bella Bru in Natomas and shed their (proverbial) blood on Monday nights are indeed, a Band of Brothers (I’m using Brothers in the modern, universal sense, so Sisters, count yourself included) there to joust and tilt in the spectacular modern tournament known as …
… bar trivia.
A fad in Britain (known as “pub quizzes,” how quaint) for some time, this phenomenon has recently spread across the pond and invaded alehouses and groggeries across our fruited plain. Let the unwashed masses have their karaoke nights in the more hygienically-suspect taverns, with their peanut-shelled floors and cold sore viruses floating in the air so thick you could swat them like mosquitoes. Bar trivia is for refined brain boxes with a sense of misplaced dignity, jaw-dropping amounts of previously useless knowledge, and a bit of chip on their shoulder. It was practically made for the Institute of Idle Time.
The rules are simple: Each team (no more than six on a team, please!) gets an answer sheet, the quizmaster reads the questions aloud, and the team writes down their answers and turns it in to the quizmaster for scoring. Best score of the night wins a prize, and best average score over a season wins a “championship” prize. Shouting answers aloud is frowned upon, and immediately marks you as a loudmouthed popped-collar frat boy douche. Take your flip-flops and date rape drugs elsewhere, sir!
This time last year, an embryonic Idle Time team came into being at Brew It Up in downtown Sacramento. We were consistently bested by what could generously be described as a gaggle of mouth-breathing inbred degenerates who called themselves the Beavers (insert your own joke here.) We couldn’t fathom how this group, who it seemed could barely dress themselves or eat solid food without gentle assistance, was coming out on top each and every time. It wasn’t long, though, before the pieces fell into place. A few bits of clever espionage revealed that The Beavers (forever after known as The Cheating Beavers) were ducking into the bathroom to consult their Blackberries, a practice strictly verboten, as I’m sure I don’t have to tell you. The quizmaster (or rather, the shadowy real quizmaster’s mouthpiece/representative) was a bit lax on enforcing the rules, preoccupied as he was with polishing his puka shells and making quite sure he mispronounced at least six words per game. After the Cheating Fucking Beavers took home the championship cup, Team Idle Time retired in disgust.
Until this year at Bella Bru, a much better environment and more fun than a cigar-smoking chimp on a unicycle. Teams like Three Orange Whips, Obamanation, Fo’Shizzle My Quizzle, Suburban Underground, Recently Humbled, and the hilariously inappropriately-monikered Team Awesome do battle to see who knows the most. What is the tallest building in Sacramento? What U.S. president briefly served as president of Columbia University? Who won the MVP in the 2007 World Series? What high school did Al Bundy on Married…With Children attend? What was the last name of Leonardo DiCaprio’s character in Titanic?
Team Idle Time consists of myself, Mike, and Will, along with Jeannie Howell, Sherice Wu, and Gilly Baldwin. A perfect storm of brainpower. All of us are pretty fluent in pop culture horseshit, naturally, but each of us has our special areas of expertise as well. What we call our “wheelhouse.” And it is increasingly clear that Jeannie has the shining, the second sight. The last five questions (#26-30) of the night are “Rock And Roll Recall,” where the quizmaster plays five songs from five different decades, and we have to identify the artist. Before question #1 is ever asked, Jeannie makes her prediction for what artist will represent the 1970s. She has been right more than once, friends. Most recently, this Monday, she jotted down SANTANA on her paper placemat. When the time came for the 1970’s song to be played, and those shitty-ass bongos started up, we looked at each other in amazement. In the 1600s, people like her were burned at the stake, or at least given a good “pressing” with flat stones. And Will is like fucking Rainman at unscrambling anagrams. Who else could have turned I AM A MALE SYREN into MY NAME IS EARL in such a short period of time?
We won the championship in September in a knuckle-biting showdown with the Mad Ents (and after a stunning seven-point comeback in the final game.) We won the championship in October. And we are one week away from winning November for a three-peat. We are cruising into the last game of the month with a six-point lead overall. But that’s the same lead the Mad Ents had in September. Anything can still happen. Monday the 24th will decide.