“Close Only Counts in Nuclear War – And Bad Sex” (Not in Trivia Tournament Tiebreakers)

High school students can be quite impressionable. Behold high school me:


Ugh…orange is SO not my color!

When I was a high school marching band “geek,” one of the drill instructors said this to me and my friends:

Close only counts in nuclear war and bad sex.

Maybe…just maybe – that wasn’t the *most* appropriate thing an adult male in his late 20s/early 30s could say to teenage girls! For the life of me I can’t even remember the context of this. But we certainly talked about it a lot!

So what brings this up? I had a very “close” encounter in a trivia tournament Saturday! I’m only realizing that today looking at my  notes and the scores. WE WERE A TIEBREAKER QUESTION AWAY FROM WINNING PRIZE MONEY!

Multiple things – if done differently – could have spelled disaster. OK, maybe not a disaster of Hurricane Katrina proportions, mind you – but “disaster” as in not winning cash in that tournament.

Scores were pretty tight among the top teams heading into the final question. One team was by itself at the top with 58 points, two teams were tied for second with 56 points, three teams were tied for third with 54 points, and my team and three others were tied for fourth with 53 points.

We figured we didn’t have a shot at winning one of the top three spots, which would get us cash prizes. And then the final question rolled around:

What mascot created in 1981 has been used in different media including its own franchise and other franchises with a “misleading” two word name – with one of the words meaning “idiot” and the other describing what kind of creature it is?

When my husband started writing down the answer before he even heard the entire question, I got a little excited! When he does that in a trivia game – it’s always a good sign!

But the game… still wasn’t over. The trivia “jockey” on the mic asked for representatives of several different teams to come to the host stand to resolve tiebreakers. And our team had to send up a representative, too. We heard that the category was “motorcycles,” and my teammate Brad almost went up to answer the question. I played the “trivia captain” card, and said I’d go up to answer the tiebreaker. I just figured it was my responsibility to do it (I wasn’t really thinking too hard, I just felt like it was my “duty” to go up there). I certainly didn’t fancy myself to be an “expert” in motorcycles! Had our friend Archie been playing with us, I probably would have sent him up to answer the question –  since I would presume he would have been more knowledgeable about motorcycles than me.

And here was the question:

What is the starting price of a Harley Davidson 2020 Street Rod motorcycle?

You don’t get too much time to think with tiebreaker questions. And my only thought was, “Well,  it must cost about what a used car might cost.” So I put in my guess as $7,500.

I went back to the table, where my teammates Brad and Phil were sitting (my husband was outside in the car – more about that in a bit – it’s an important plot point). I told them what dollar amount I put down as my guess, and both of them said they would have put in much higher guesses for the answer than I did. So I started to doubt myself….

Did I just screw everything up for my team? Should I have sent someone else up to answer that question?

Then the correct answer was announced on the mic – and Phil – our “loaner” player (normally a pretty unflappable kind of guy you probably wouldn’t want to go up against in a poker game) had a “look” on his face. A look of “OMG” is the best way to describe that look.

And then the suspense started to really build as they read the scores on the mic…would our team win coffee mugs, shot glasses, hats, drink tumblers, T-shirts, journal books (I actually wouldn’t have minded winning those…I love stationery gifts)…and we weren’t hearing our name. Could it be…could it be…I was crossing my fingers, covering my eyes, praying to the trivia gods…wondering to myself why I didn’t have any drinks during the game (a drink certainly would have steadied my nerves a bit)…Usually I’m also the kind of person you wouldn’t want to go up against in a poker game in terms of my self-possession and ability to hide my emotions, but in this case – all bets were off! I was going for an acting Oscar!

Yes! YES…we DID IT! We won third place! For a team like mine that usually expects to NEVER win any prizes in regional tournaments let alone qualify for playing in them – this was very exciting!

So members of our team had to do the “dog and pony show” thing and pose for photos with oversized novelty checks – and then have “real” checks made out to us. But one of our teammates had already gone out to the car! So I had to go out to the parking lot – knock on the driver’s side window of our running car and tell my husband:

Get your butt back inside – we won cash!

I’m going to chalk all of this up to the ghost of Archie being present at that game and maybe giving me a lifeline when I had to answer that tiebreaker! Cheers to you, my dearly departed friend – you were truly there in spirit!

And also Rusty my old marching band drill instructor was there too! “Close” would not have cut it on this tiebreaker (though it would have been sufficient in nuclear warfare  and bad sex)!



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