Posted on

Talking yourself out of winning

Talking yourself out of winning Talking yourself out of winning

I wouldn’t go so far as to call us a “Dream Team,” but me, my wife and Ross Pattermann are a pretty formidable trio when it comes to trivia contests. We each have our own area of quasi-expertise, and we’re not too bad at deductive reasoning, either.

Like all college-educated people, though, we often struggle with either second- guessing ourselves or thinking we know the answer when we really don’t. I also have my doubts about whether we can could successfully change a flat tire or find our way out of the woods without a map.

We had our debut as a trivia team this past Friday night at Marilyn’s Fire Station and Catering in Medford, which hosted a contest open to anyone who showed up. Our team, known as the “Crazy 8s” because of the number assigned to our table, actually came within one point of winning, but we repeatedly found ways to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. First, Linda came up with the answer to the online bonus question: Where was the U.S. Constitution stored during World War II? Fort Knox. The thing is, we never knew where to write it down on our answer cards, and we didn’t realize that all we had to do was tell the people running the contest. That one easy point would have put us over the finish line at the end.

Our next chance to clinch the win was a question on U.S. geography: Which state was the last one added to the union? Hawaii, the correct answer, came to my mind right away, so I wrote it down, but somehow, Ross and Linda convinced me to change it to Alaska. If I had stuck to my guns, we could have won, but I turned the pencil over to the eraser and reduced the right answer to a faded smudge.

The last category of the night was sports, so Linda and I were absolutely convinced that Ross would run the table and hoist us to the top of the winners’ podium. With his encyclopedic knowledge of all things sports, Ross was given the pencil and told to just handle the answers on his own. Everything was going great until this question came up: “Who sang the national anthem at Super Bowl 50?” We all kind of groaned, since this was technically not a question about sports.

Remarkably, Ross still came up with the right answer, Lady Gaga. Once again, though, we talked ourselves into being wrong. I foolishly suggested Christina Aguilera, and that somehow ended as our final answer. When all the points were tallied, it was us and another team tied for first. We were given a tie-breaker question that I don’t even remember, and the other team won the prize, a bottle of wine. Still, it was a pretty good showing for our first time in competition. If only we could stay out of our own way.