Yes, it's been ten years since we regrouped and have done so every January of the past decade to annually "play trivia." However, Trivia Weekend is so much more than searching frantically for three minutes at a time to answer obscure questions. It's the deepest re-connection to one of many families of creation. As I've written before, these are the people I don't have to explain myself to because they were there when I was becoming who I am now and who I've been since 8th grade. They are witnesses to my personal evolution as I have been to theirs. I ran that theory past my shrink at my appointment the Tuesday before Trivia Weekend and he agreed with my theory, stating, "that's a great philosophical perspective on friendship." And he makes the big bucks?
One of the beautiful traditions of Trivia Weekend is the meticulous documentation created over years of playing. This goes back to an accidental finding of notebook pages with handwritten jam team names from the first years we participated while in high school, circa 1988, 1989. Now we write out roughly one-third of the regular questions, both Garuda questions and the Super Garuda, the final question of this year's contest which will be the first question next year. The meticulousness of writing down questions starts to wain around midnight on Friday, two hours into the 50-hour marathon. This is question 3 as written on our yellow, lined pad of paper from this year: "If you need to compare foods, this place can help. Which has more calories and which has more carbs, butts or super butts?" (Answer: Butts have more calories, super butts have more carbs.) This is how our attention to detail had devolved by question 115: "U of Chicago 2017 quizbowl Chris Ray said not dead but where." (Answer: Ohio.)
We document not only questions and answers, but whether we answered the question correctly, the assigned points per question, that Trivia Central acknowledged our correct response by listing our team number over the air with the litany of all of the other team numbers who also answered correctly, questions we will dispute by messaging the complaint "line" (it used to be a phone number but now operates on Messenger), and significant events that happen over the course of the weekend, i.e., "10:33pm played Girls on Film". In between questions the station plays music and at 10:33pm on Friday they played Duran Duran's "Girls on Film" which is significant because several of us were HUGE Duranies in junior high and high school.
My favorite documentation is collecting team quotes. This weekend my favorite quote is from Jeff: "Hays, are you angry at those chips?" asked while Hays struggled to open a potato chip bag. I know this is one of those had-to-be-there situations, but trust me, it was frickin' hilarious! The gold-standard of Trivia dialogue is from two or three years ago: Hays: "Carrie, where did you Google that?" (Pause) Carrie: "Google." Again, you had to be there, yada yada yada, but when I think of that exchange I still snort in laughter.
After we break up from playing together in Milwaukee, we communicate through Google Hang-Out. This is the first time since I started playing Trivia in January 1988 that I stayed up until midnight on Sunday to hear the Super Garuda. I was more than a bit punchy and kept typing "I'm getting my Super Garuda cherry popped tonight" describing myself as a "Super Garuda virgin" to the other three remaining team players who hung in with me until the end of the contest. When we left Milwaukee, I was entrusted with the note pad to continue writing down questions and answers. There was something ethereal about scribbling down parts of that final question and searching for the answer, scratching out wrong information and scribbling down more.
Eventually the WLFM streaming went silent. A video posted to The Great Midwest Trivia Contest Facebook page showed the Trivia Masters and on-campus teams congregated outside the station, light snow blowing haphazardly, frequently blurring the images. My final entry on our 2018 notepad reads as follows:
"End: 12:25AM Monday Jan 29, 2018"
Our 2018 team mascot: Mr. Pocket