We're also pleased to report that after warding off a hostile Hooters takeover, things seem about the same at the Flea Market. Besides trivia, the bar has added Texas hold 'em tournaments on Tuesdays and karaoke with a live band on Friday nights.
Trivia was awesome, and we're not just saying that because we won. And by won, we mean slaughtered everyone in sight. Yeah, we're that kind of gloater.
We showed up with a group of research assistants before the 8 p.m. game time, entered our team Osama Ben Affleck and forked over the entry fee ($5 a person). The format of the two-hour games differs from the other trivia bouts around town. Each team was issued a Magic Sketcher board on which to write the answers. We held the boards up after time was called, and the points were tallied on a flat-screen TV.
And so it began. Eight teams showed up, and fortunately, no one seemed to be a trivia asshole the obnoxious type who (a) immediately and loudly makes those "I know it!" noises halfway through the question and (b) gets so into it that he visibly sulks when his team loses. No, we got the trivia crowd that we love: a laid-back group that's filled with smart-asses who make funny, sarcastic comments in response to the questions. That's why we liked the big group at the table next to us, who kept that up for most of the night. They're the ones who drew a hand flipping the bird on their wipe board in answer to one particularly obscure question.
Which were our sentiments, too, at the beginning of the game, when the first few questions were about Warsteiner beer (which was also one of the specials of the night, along with $3 wells). Yes, we know it's shocking that the Night Ranger team had trouble with beer questions. But, in our defense, one answer involved some German beer-purity law of 1567. Hey, did we mention that we won?
Fortunately, the subjects became more manageable as the night went on. The hosts played clips of stuff we had to identify: movie quotes, TV theme songs and the original artists and titles of Pearl Jam covers. "Songs Played Backwards" prompted one competitor to complain, "That's not trivia at all. That's a special auditory skill." Surprisingly, Kanye West's "Golddiggers" and Boston's "More Than a Feeling" were pretty easy to pick out. Best of all, Satan or the ghost of Bob Berdella didn't come roaring out of the floorboards during this category.
As the night wore on, we covered topics that included state nicknames, the NFL draft, The Simpsons and how famous people died. Our group's areas of expertise were pretty diverse. So, after Osama Ben Affleck won $81 (first-place winners get 75 percent of the entry-fee pot; second place gets the rest), we chatted up our competitors.
We caught 22-year-olds Raquel and Janki and 21-year-old Jake as they were getting ready to leave. Their team's name? Seafood Handjob. They explained that they originally wanted to be called the Handjobs, but when the host deemed it too raunchy, they flipped through the Pitch and stumbled upon the word seafood. We figured they weren't the first to flip through the Pitch with hand jobs in mind.
These UMKC students seemed somewhat sheepish about their fifth-place finish. "It's embarrassing," Raquel said. "Can you say that we wiped the floor?" Sure, we can be gracious in victory like that.
Next, we walked over to the table that we loved and met Mark, who described his age as "forty-kindasomething." He said his team won the previous week. He and his team seemed pretty cool, so we asked how they all knew one another.
"We're an urban tribe," he said. We love that term! Their ages ranged from 35 to 45, and all met about 10 years ago. "We go on vacation together. We kind of hang out. We do the typical lame-ass Plaza-Westport circuit," he added.
He also admitted that they scored one of their answers from a drunk guy playing darts, who had been yelling them out. Uh, don't you think you should forfeit your second-place status and paltry winnings? "We'll have to forfeit our five bucks! Jesus Christ, how will we live with that?" he asked in mock despair.
We're sure you'll find a way, Mark. He and his urban tribe left. We were hoping for more of an after-trivia drinking crowd, but by 10:30 or so, the place was nearly dead. So we talked for a little bit with 26-year-old Nate, the trivia master. His regular job is putting on Texas hold 'em tournaments at bars and corporate charity events. He stumbled upon this gig because his boss is friends with the new Flea Market owner.
During the first week of play, he said, players had to contend with a trivia asshole. A wasted guy got so into the competitive spirit that he started harassing another table. During the break, Nate approached him, and the guy's whole team left. Nate speculated that the teammates didn't want to embarrass the guy. "This is pacifist trivia," Nate said. Well, we hope it stays that way.
We took one last turn around the bar and met one guy who had nothing to do with the trivia match. Dave, a former Flea Market manager, said he lives around the corner. He told us that he met his wife at the Flea Market and that they had just celebrated their seven-year anniversary that week. We asked exactly how they got together.
"My wife was a complete pain in the ass," he said. She also worked there as a manager. They weren't supposed to date, but they ended up hooking up. They tried to hide their burgeoning romance for a couple of months, but of course, everyone at work soon figured it out.
"We'd ride to work together, park in the back, go in separate doors and [affecting a faux-surprised, hearty voice], 'Hey, Dana, I haven't seen you for a while!'" Dave said. Ah, secret lovers. Quick, name the '80s group that sang that song!
We can't name it off the top of our heads, so we hope the song doesn't come up next week. Because we've got a winning streak to maintain, damn it.