Three Years Ago Today…I Played In The Strangest Trivia Game Ever (The Untold Story)

Today is the eve of the “Big Game.” If you live in Michigan, that means the University of Michigan vs. Michigan State University football game, which will be played noon Saturday, Oct. 20 in East Lansing MI. Thank goodness! There have been SO many home games lately! If you live anywhere near “The Big House” (aka U of M stadium), wise folks always keep an eye on football schedules so as to know when it’s safe to drive into Ann Arbor. I imagine anyone living near a “Big 12” stadium pretty much does the same thing!

As for the U of M/MSU game three years ago, MSU squeaked a victory at the last second, I remember where I was when this happened – we had just started a lantern tour of a historic cemetery in Ypsilanti, MI. My friend Brad was monitoring the game on his phone and said suddenly, “Unbelievable!” Being that he’s a Wolverine, he was kind of bummed!

I honestly don’t care which team wins this weekend. I really don’t have a horse in the race.  But…three years ago today (give or take a day) – the only team I cared about winning a game was MY trivia team! We had a “venue tournament” game to play at a bar called Arbor Brewing Co. in downtown Ann Arbor, MI. This would be our second chance bid at winning a finals spot since we missed our first chance by a mere four points four days earlier. So if we didn’t win a spot, no trivia tournament for us!

I thought I had my players lined up – me, my husband Mike, Brad, Brad’s brother Kevin (who has helped us in a few games over the past few years) and Dave. But Dave texted me Saturday afternoon and said he couldn’t make it to that game after all.

I texted/messaged probably at least a dozen other folks asking if they were able to play, and was turned down by every single one of them. One of the folks I’d messaged was a guy playing on a rival team, who also declined – but gave me the phone number of one of his teammates. And here’s what he said about this teammate of his (which I have never written about before today): “If you can handle his grumpiness, maybe he can play.” I already had a “grumpy guy” on my team (my dear beloved husband), so I was not deterred by this! I figured, “Meh, I can handle it!” My brother and dad can both be grumpy guys themselves, so I figured I was a seasoned pro at handling “grumpy folks.”

For the record, this guy was NOT grumpy at all while playing with us! But that was the least of the weird occurrences of this game!

Even after he gave me that number of this other player, I still proceeded to ask if anyone else could play. I literally waited until the 11th hour and finally decided to send this other guy a text. We’d just finished doing the lantern tour of the cemetery, and were having some drinks at a nearby watering hole.   Then I sent the text, which must’ve occurred sometime after 9:30 p.m. I didn’t even identify myself in the text and I’d never texted this guy before, so it… probably freaked him out. I think I said something along the lines of “You are hearing the call of Cthulhu” or something weird like that. But, I got a hit! He said he could play. Woo hoo! I had my five players lined up!

Game day rolled around – you can read a recap of that game here . Our venue tournament was scheduled at 6 p.m. on a nice, brisk autumn afternoon. Just before the game started, we learned that the Detroit Lions had won their football game which was strange news indeed! But that was NOTHING compared to the strangeness of the trivia game itself! To this day logic fails to explain some of the things that happened. Allow me to describe:

First off, our “guest” player said he had nightmares the previous night involving tentacles. Which was probably proof that my text message probably DID freak him out (sorry)! So that was strange thing #1. Now moving on, let’s talk about strange thing #2!

I had an answer mysteriously float into my head as if from the aether. No joke. It was almost like an unseen person had whispered the answer into my ear. Considering the local rumors about this bar/restaurant being haunted by the ghost of a police officer who had been shot and killed in the line of duty, maybe the ghost whispered the answer to me! The question was simple enough – “Who composed Peter and the Wolf? I knew it was on me to answer this one (being the only “musician” playing that day), so I racked my brain. And racked my brain. And finally the answer just…appeared. I swear this is not a lie – this answer did NOT come from my own brain – it came from…somewhere else.

Before you start thinking I’m a nut to believe in ghosts (which I technically do not – I have never seen a ghost), consider this – another time we played a trivia game at this bar, my husband was poked in the rib by a person sitting next to him. But there was NO ONE sitting next to him. Explain that, will ya? We had been arguing about a trivia answer at the time, and we theorized that maybe the ghost was trying to tell him to stop giving his wife a hard time!

At another trivia game in this spot, a page of my notes mysteriously…disappeared. This is NOT a normal occurrence! I keep track of my trivia notes very, very well! I speculated that the restaurant’s “ghost” had swiped my notes when my team had left the table for a mid-game break. I looked on the floor for them, looked between the wall and the bench seat…nothing. What I did find was an old tube of lip balm someone had dropped before (which I jokingly tried giving away to a player sitting at the next table). Oh the shenanigans!

Back to the game three years ago…when  it came down to wagering our points for the final question, I decided we were going to wager four points. I didn’t even look at our score – or even really pay attention to scores of other teams. At all. I randomly decided we were going to wager four points (the category was rap music, which was a weak category for us). The result of us wagering four points put us in a tiebreaker with a team called the Corn Fritters, which asked for the U.S. box office gross of the movie Apollo 13. Our “guest” player stepped up to answer that one, and (I’ll never forget this) it was almost like he was a magician and producing the answer out of thin air (you had to be there)! Long story short, we won the tiebreaker for the prize, but learned a bit later that both our team and the Corn Fritters would be advancing to finals (the Sporcle Live league no longer allows this to happen). I still cannot explain why I wanted to wager four points on this, but it turned out to be the perfect wager on so many counts! I wound up giving our “guest”  $30 in gift certificates I’d won in a trivia game about two weeks ago or so and the look on his face was… like a kid on Christmas (again…you had to be there). The prize was intended to be a “bonus” for helping us advance, but truth be told, I probably would have given it to him even if we hadn’t advanced – just as a “thank you” for driving all that way to play with my scrappy team!

My teammates Mike and Brad felt a little celebratory after the game and wanted to sing our team’s fight song. So I told our “guest” that we were going to be singing our fight song and invited him to join in on the fun. He said incredulously, “You guys have a fight song?” My teammates told me that this guy actually ATTEMPTED to sing our fight song (everything after winning our tournament spot is kind of a blur to me and I don’t actually remember much of what happened). When I mentioned this to one of his own trivia teammates, he said, “Pictures or it didn’t happen.” Yes, it really happened (I have witnesses)!

And that concludes my story of the strangest trivia game I’ve ever played. Even stranger than that time we played a trivia tournament in a Moose lodge!


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