Every couple of days for the past few weeks I have been bumping into someone, not always English-speaking, who says to me: “Are you going to quiz night?” It’s starting to remind me of that old children’s song, Old MacDonald Had a Farm: “Here a Quiz Night, there a Quiz Night, everywhere a Quiz Night, Quiz Night.”
Quiz Night, it turns out, is held at 8 pm every Tuesday at the Black Swan Pub in the center of Lagoa. Simon, the owner, turns into a quiz master for the night and, as it turns out, a cruel and devious quiz master at that!
With such a buzz going around town my curiosity was peaked and I headed down to the Black Swan last Tuesday night to see what all the fuss was about. When I walked in I was astonished to find the place completely packed. There was barely a seat to spare. Friends had gathered in groups of four, five or eight. They had their pens and pencils ready, as if unable to wait any longer for the big event to begin.
Now, to find ANY bar packed with people in Floripa on a rainy Tuesday night in October is difficult. But that they should all gather for a quiz game? Curiouser and curiouser.
I soon learned that Simon had a few tricks up his sleeve designed to make his quiz game popular. The first was free drinks for anyone who could answer one of his warm up questions. First, he gave everyone the words of a song scrambled up and placed in a random order. The idea was to unscramble the words and then give the name of the song and the name of the band. I studied the words: “sun, mountains, valley, brothers, arms, baptism . . . “ and so on. It all sounded very U2-like.
“Anyone know?” asked Simon on his microphone, “A bucket of beer for the table who answers correctly.” I scratched my head and studied the words. drew a blank. Then I looked around. Expressions on people’s faces ranged from deep concentration to outright agony. No one knew the answer.
“Okay, then,” said Simon. “Keep thinking.” He then launched into a series of other warm-up questions, each with an alcohol prize for the clever person who knew the answer. The yearning for free booze was thick enough to cut with a knife. Simon launched into the first round of freebooze questions: “The sun’s distance from the earth is measured in AU’s. What is an AU?”
“Astronomical Unit,” someone called out. He was served a free beer.
Simon asked, “What animal did Napolean chose as his symbol?” A lion I thought? “An eagle.” someone shouted out. “A bee,” said an attractive, educated-looking woman with an American accent in the back. “Correct,” said Simon smiling. A round a Jagermeister was duly delivered to the table.
“What did Ludwig von Beethoven do each morning before composing?” Simon asked slyly. After a few crackpot answers someone with a thick Brazilian accent called out in English, “Dunked his head in a bowl of freezing-cold water.” “Correct!” boomed out Simon on the PA system. Drinks went streaming toward the jubilant maven.
After a few more questions it was time to begin the Quiz Proper. Simon asked fifty questions in batches of five. After each five questions there was another round of booze-clues, which kept the crowd alert and awake. Each of us—the drunk and the straight, the nerdy and the cool– racked our brains in the hopes of free liquor–and not always fruitfully.
There was a tense silence in the bar as Simon launched into his Quiz Proper. I cracked my knuckles in preparation. I pictured myself vanishing beneath a pile of free bottles of beer, staggering home reciting the Gettysburg Address, lecturing the lamppost on the Theory of Relativity. I was in for a big surprise.
Now, I should say that I pride myself on my general knowledge. I am the sort of person who enjoys trivia games, who loves to memorize arcane facts, who takes interest in historical events, political happenings, the sayings of famous rock stars. I carefully watch my children’s movies, memorizing the names of characters. I study atlases and dictionaries. I read newspapers from all over the world. I pride myself on my broad knowledge of literature and languages. I do all this with the irrational hope that one day all this knowledge will help me win something–and here I was, finally presented with the chance to use my knowledge to win alcohol! Nevertheless, none of my years of learning had prepared me for the rending agony, the sadistic torment of Simon’s impossibly difficult quiz.
There was a tense silence in the bar as Simon launched into his Quiz Proper. I cracked my knuckles in preparation. I pictured myself vanishing beneath a pile of free bottles of beer, staggering home reciting the Gettysburg Address, and lecturing the lamppost of the Theory of Relativity. But I was in for a big surprise.
The first question: what was the name of the two cats in the children’s movie Lady and the Tramp? I saw those two evil cats, wagging their bums at the camera, mocking poor Lady. I heard them singing, “I am Siamese if you please. I am Siamese if you don’t please.” But their names? Aaargh!
The questions came thick and fast after that (see answers below.) 1. In what country would you find lake Disappointment? 2. Where was volleyball invented? 3. After homes and jobs where do Americans spend most of their time? 4. Who was the first honorary US citizen? 5. Egg Fu is the enemy of which superhero? 6. (My personal favorite) What famous guitarist said, “Once you are dead you are made for life?” 7. What is a hindi in Turkey? 8. Who lives at 742 Evergreen Terrace? 9.What medal shows three naked men sitting on each others shoulders? 10. What is the most common food allergen?
The quiz became a sort of torture. The questions were infuriating! I thought Egg Fu was a sort of dish from Hong Kong. At the end, as Simon read out the answers, I realized just how lacking my knowledge really was. I totaled up my correct responses. A mere seven out of fifty. Well, at least I had known that it was Sigmund Freud who had pointed out that sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.
I was so bamboozled half way through that when Simon asked who was Ophelia’s father that I, who love Hamlet, couldn’t even come up with the obvious answer: Polonius.
I glared at Simon who smiled innocently back at me from behind his microphone. Then, all at once, my fury transformed into hardened determination. It was a travesty! A slap in the face! But one I would soon avenge. Soon! Or at least next Tuesday when I’ll get another chance to take on Simon, the quiz monster.
The winning table was announced. The clever quiz nighters roared with jubilation. More drinks appeared.
I slunk down into the shadows in shame, but my mind was racing. Think. Think man. There’s got to be some clever people on this island who you can bring along with you next week. I will seek them out. I will tell them. Quiz night. Quiz night.
Quiz night anyone?
Answers to Simon’s Quiz: 1.Australia 2.USA 3. Shopping malls 4. Winston Churchill 5. Wonder Woman 6. Jimi Hendrix 7. A turkey 8. The Simpsons 9. The Nobel Prize 10. Nuts
The Black Pub Swan is located in Lagoa just across the street from the Ilha Magia grocery store.