Nuggets of Life: The Team

It's only trivia, so don't freak out.

I am not good at sports. I may be stating the obvious to anyone who knows me personally or has actually seen what I look like, but I suck at them. I suck big time at physical things that don’t involve a mountain or a pool, I’m like a gorilla if you strap me to skis or skates or a bicycle or any contraption between me and the ground, and unless I’m holding a pencil or a paintbrush, my hand-eye coordination indicates that I may actually be blind. If there was a disorder describing this, rather than simply the colloquial “comically inept,” I would claim to have it.


I am also not a joiner. Being smart afforded me a great deal of ego and self-absorption in school, and thus I spent lots of time doing everything I could to not join teams. To avoid organized clubs. To not share hobbies with more than two or three people, lest we gain a team name or some sort of hierarchical structure. I knew I would skate by into university (and probably through it) with little need to do anything icky or extra-curricular, and thus I avoided it like it would permanently taint my blood with “effort” or “sense of community”. I looked with great, unyielding scorn upon any people who had matching anythings, or people who possessed any article of clothing that was custom embossed or emblazoned.

In teacher’s college, I somehow had to stem these tides of adolescent apathy, as joining everything under the sun was necessary to get a job. I joined every committee, every club, every special event. I co-wrote a school play, I helped coach a volleyball team, I joined and worked in book clubs. If there was a student council, I was a faculty advisor. If there was an event, I was there long before and long after, arranging canapes, setting up chairs, and glad-handing with every child and parent that strayed into my field of vision. Being a teacher coerces you into being a joiner, all the better that you can coerce the kids to be joiners.

In my humble town of Incheon, one bar hosts a local trivia night. I heard about this not long after first arriving, and with one of my friends, began feeling out others to join a team with. We settled on one common acquaintance, who already had two additional team members, and thus our team was established. Over the span of months, I have spent nearly every Thursday night in a dank bar basement, competitively answering trivia questions. This is really probably the first and only competitive team game I have ever willingly participated in, and certainly the first I’ve actively enjoyed.

Much as I try to maintain my too-cool hipsterdom most of the time, I’m pretty into it at this point. Some of my greatest Korea-friendships have begun or have been greatly bolstered by the trivia team. The team’s roster has shifted over months, and thus I become closer with the ones who more regularly stick around. We bond. We develop camaraderie. We heckle, and jeer, and give stupid amounts of high fives for answering general knowledge questions. We each have strengths in different categories, and we are all fairly aware of the trivia handicaps of our teammates, which in turn makes us incredibly aware of our weaknesses should they miss a week. Great deals of time are spent discussing and refining our new team name for the week (best ones thus far: “MurderBear,” “Hurricane Jones,” and the upcoming “Danny’s Inferno.” Tony is very, very adamant that one week we must call ourselves “The Boats”).

We’ve become part of a trivia community. We know the other regulars, and nod to one another when we see them in public. “Trivia,” we remark to whomever we’re with, as that’s all that needs to be said. We know when a round is well-designed, and when it sucks. We whine if the trivia callers have messed up the time or the math, and when we run it, we ignore all whining from the crowd. We have rivalries. (Originally, the winningest team was a group called “Fingerbang,” essentially a major jerkstore of a group of people. The jerkiest, and smartest, jerk left, and thus they are just jerky failures. In their stead, a group called (originally) the “Abortion Clinic Office Party” has ascended to most regular winners, though they’re pleasant, so it’s hard to begrudge them beyond anything but pure, unadulterated envy. Exciting update!: Last week we actually defeated them, something that hasn’t happened in months! I can tell you are all proud of me.) We invite other people to join the trivia community (also partly because it means there will be more money to win).

I think I finally found my sport. Of course, it involves me sitting in a basement, but small victories.


21 thoughts on “Nuggets of Life: The Team

  1. Michael, everybody has their strength(s); yours is knowledge (combined with a literary deftness – which sounds physical – and a budding flare for photography).

  2. I am a big believer in naming pub quiz teams after pub foods. For the longest time we were Onion Rings and then Fish&Chips (after the food we traditionally ate in the bar hosting the quiz after a hike).
    (btw I love your blog, just dont’ comment often!)

    • Food names are a good idea… we considered that, as this particular bar has a menu rife with common English menu errors in Korean. But usually by the time we convene each week, we have a dozen names each of us tries to convince the others of.

  3. Love this!

    Being a smart loner only takes you so far (says a former one, herself.) I plan to write a blog post on my various communities and will link to this…You make a great point and it’s cool that you’ve finally found a posse you so enjoy.

  4. Further to SamW’s comment I hearby offer ‘bangers and mash’ as a cool pub team name. I will also offer my assistance if ever you find some weakness in the 80’s genre ( I too have an affinity for useless trivia – I just think you have a broader knowledge base than I)


  5. I loved this! I was also a non-sports and generally non-joiner type of highschool kid. I got over this a bit in University, but really only for the drinking benefits!

    If you like Super Troopers, Car RamRod would be an excellent team name. I use it all the time, and gift it to you now.

  6. I don’t do the trivia thing because I’m old and I don’t like bars and I don’t drink and generally I’m a grumpy recluse who only enjoys my own company and occasionally the company of my boyfriend. I do enjoy reading about other people’s social lives however, and I thoroughly enjoy reading about your exploits because your writing is smart and funny and you make the everyday, mundane stuff of life seem colorful and fascinating.

  7. That sounds like my kind of sport!! Congratulations on beating the top guys, that’s always a good feeling. 🙂

    • Indeed! It was a come from behind game, too. The first rounds we blew terribly, then at half-time, we suddenly took the lead from knowing a lot of famous mugshots. Three rounds later, it was sci-fi, and we knew we were in the clear (especially me).

  8. Pingback: How Many Communities Do You Belong To? « Broadside

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