When A Wild Animal Changes Its Behavior, Watch Out! That Goes For Trivia Players, Too!

Two different trivia players threw me for a loop Monday night – for completely different reasons. But in both cases, there was a marked change of behavior!

Let’s rewind about 12 years or so…my husband and I were on a trip to the Traverse City, MI area in early March (believe me, your honor, I have a point and will make it). We decided to do the “Dune Walk,” which essentially means climbing a big-ass sand dune in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. It’s a tough, tough hike – even if you’re in good physical shape. But at the end, you’re rewarded with a lovely view of Lake Michigan, which you can see below. My apologies for the photo quality, this is a snapshot, and I’m not very good at taking photos of photos!

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Silly selfie featuring me and my grimacing husband! It was still very cold on this walk – we both agreed that doing the “Dune Walk” when it’s cold – and less crowded with other visitors – was nicer than doing this on a hot day!

While we were hiking in the area, we saw numerous signs warning visitors about mountain lions. We had heard that there might be mountain lions in the area, and actually saw some paw prints in the sand! They did NOT look like dog tracks.

After our trip, we read quite a bit about the mountain lion sightings, and in particular what to do if you encountered one. The strategy we learned was to make yourself appear bigger than you are and try scaring them off. Try to gain higher ground. Throwing objects like water bottles, etc. also not a bad thing. Don’t run, though – cats LOVE the chase and will outrun you! Leave them alone if you see them, and most importantly, if they start to appear to change their behavior, beware! The same is true with bears, an animal we read about quite extensively before taking a trip to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in 2005. We read a book about bear awareness, so that whenever we talk about bears now, we say to each other, “Are YOU bear aware?”

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So when I became aware of two different trivia players (who incidentally know each other) engaging in odd behavior on Monday, my “Spidey senses” went a tingling! SOMETHING was up…and I would have to try to figure it out!

My first “tell” was that one of the competing players at Powell’s Pub, where we play we’ve played trivia games every Monday for going on two seasons now, was playing with a female “partner.” Now I’ve seen this guy play with other people on occasion, but usually only for tournaments. Him bringing a “helper” to a regular league game definitely made him a person of interest! He’s a “barhop” player, so he automatically qualifies for the end-of-season trivia tournament and can bypass the semifinal games. He doesn’t “need” to win the bar, like my team does.

So why did he call in the cavalry? Mysteries abound! Does he want to win the bar even though he doesn’t have to? Was he trying to win first prize so he could have a shot at the dual-bar jackpot offered by this bar and McShane’s Pub? Is this some kind of insane “barhop” shenanigan? I know he’s quite the competitive bloke, so I wouldn’t put that past him! And if he felt he had to do this because of me and my little ‘ol team, well then I’m flattered! If he feels we’re worth the effort and that we’re a “team to beat,” well OK, then! I’m just as competitive of a trivia player as he is, and I definitely play to win. I don’t tend to waste efforts at a trivia spot that my trivia team doesn’t have a chance to win. sure, we like to play “for fun” every now and then and will visit a different spot, but for the most part, we’re eyeing “the long game.”

Which brings me to person #2 committing his own act of “odd.” I learned about this after my game was over, when I’d texted this guy and asked how he did on the tough final question. A while later, he responds that he hadn’t played in his “normal” trivia spot, which is walking distance from his home. He instead ventured into Ann Arbor to play at a trivia spot called Ashley’s, which is near the University of Michigan campus. What what WHAT? He’s been playing at this “hometown” bar of his for years! Why the change now? My inquiring mind definitely wanted to know! Trivia players tend to be creatures of habit, so with this sudden behavior change, my ears were definitely pricked up.

I don’t have any real answers, I have a couple of theories. One of which is maybe he just needed to hit the “reset” button. Trivia routines can get a bit tiresome, I totally get that. Trivia spots can get a bit stale after a while. We played at a spot in Ypsilanti for more than three years, and ultimately had to find a different one. Maybe he needed an extra challenge (I can attest to his “regular” trivia spot on Mondays not being a very challenging one). Familiarity breeds contempt? Mid-life trivia crisis? Again, I don’t know…these are just theories. I honestly hope he had a good time venturing into the “big city” and visiting what I think is one of the first bars that offered pub trivia in this league (though under a different name) many years ago. Maybe it was nostalgic for him? Whatever the case, I applaud his spirit! Maybe I’ll have to bring  my team to the first trivia spot we played back in 2009 (or 2010, I honestly can’t remember), which was Wolverine State Brewing Co. We played casually there for a bit, until my husband and I got tied up in looking for a new home and moved away from Ann Arbor.

As for this other guy? Game on! If he wants a trivia fight, we’ll give it to him! If he thinks he has to “win” this bar – even though he technically doesn’t have to – we’ll do our best to keep that from happening! With four games to go and a 51 point lead over our closest competitor (and a 19 point lead over the barhop guy), we’re in good shape. If he winds up “winning” the bar in terms of points and this appeases his ego, so be it. My only goal is for my team to get a semifinal spot at the end. I may be competitive, but I’m not going to work any harder than I need to! If we HAVE to win the bar, that’s what we’ll do! If it’s not necessary to beat the “barhop” teams, then why bother? Though it will be nice for MY ego if it happens (such as it is)!

I have a trivia recap to write before the next World Cup match starts, so I’d better get a move on! Check in for that recap a bit later (thanks for reading)!

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