20: A Not So Trivial Twosome

20: A Not So Trivial Twosome

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Time to Thrive

A Not So Trivial Twosome

Regardless of differences, we strive shoulder to shoulder . . . [T]eamwork can be summed up in five short words: “We believe in each other.”

~Jerry Smith

The announcement in the newspaper enticed me: “Trivial Pursuit Competition… $500 First Prize.”

The competition, for teams of two, was to be held at a nearby mall. My wife Carol and I loved playing the game with friends, but this competition would be in full view of the general public. I waved the paper at Carol. “Did you see this?”

“Yes, and the answer is no! Ask Clive!”

Trivial Pursuit, a board game that tests your general and pop culture knowledge, was the latest fad and had become an “intellectual hula hoop” for adults. To be crowned the local champion would bring us glory and gold.

But there are in life some things that loving couples should avoid doing. Partnering to play a game based on knowledge and memory, in a public forum, is on that list of relationship testers. Thus Carol’s firm answer to my query.

My friend Clive made a good fit. We were prepared and eager, but just hours before the Wednesday night qualifying round, Clive took ill. Now on the cusp of the competition I needed a replacement. This called for desperate measures… “Carol!”

We arrived and found Table 8 set to accommodate eight couples. Although Carol was clearly uncomfortable, we took our places, nodding greetings to those present. A group of spectators had gathered and that made her all the more nervous. An announcement was made and play began.

The first couple started strongly, answering correctly and acquiring a few “pie wedges” in their scoring token before missing a question. The following two teams had very brief runs before losing their turns. Next up, we did well, garnering two wedges, but an Art & Literature question confounded us and we became spectators again, hoping for another chance. As the games continued, we could hear cries of joy and groans of despair from the other tables. Our table played on and elimination loomed; however none of our opponents filled their game pieces and we got a second chance. We did not waste it. Thanks to some favourable rolls, Carol’s knowledge of birthstones and anniversaries, and a run of correct answers, we won our table and earned a spot in the finals. All the talk afterward was about the couple at Table 3 who had run the board on their first turn, answering over 100 consecutive questions correctly to sweep into the championship. We would face them on Saturday at “high noon.”

Saturday’s table was centred in the mall’s rotunda. We were seated side by side in the eighth spot and selected a green (for Forrest, our last name) playing piece. The team that had been perfect on Wednesday sat almost across from us. This was a promotional event for the mall, and spectators surrounded us, standing three deep. The media was well represented and the local cable TV channel was taping the event. The judge called us to order and the questioner began.

Team 1 got off to a shaky start. They only answered four questions before missing one. Team 2 did better and half filled their game piece with wedges before faltering. Team 3 took the die and lived up to expectations. A mixed female/male team, she took the lead in answering and they seldom conferred, rolling strategically and answering about seventy consecutive questions. Without missing an answer, they ran the board. Technically they had won the game, unless another team could match their performance and force a playoff. The next four teams were clearly intimidated and unable to mount a serious run. During play, I watched the couple as their confident smiles became almost smug.

We were up last and started quickly, rolling on to the required squares and acquiring about half the wedges needed. Even though one of us thought we knew the answer, we always conferred before replying. Then, we ran in to a stretch of rolls that forced us to answer many questions without acquiring wedges. Every question threatened sudden death; but eventually we made it to the centre and then nailed the final question. We had done it — run the board to force a playoff.

Team 3 was up first, knowing as well as us that a single miss could mean defeat, yet they seemed quite calm. The audience had increased and even they too were tense, often being warned to silence by the questioner. Picking up where they had left off, our opponents breezed along, acquiring wedges quickly. Then an Entertainment question drew blank looks from both. They conferred and argued and then answered… incorrectly. The audience groaned. Our hearts, already in our throats, began to pound. We were up.

Frankly, I doubted we could run the board again, but it was do or die. Initially it seemed the game gods had deserted us. Our dice rolls were not placing us on the required spots to acquire wedges. That meant answering many more questions, with a single miss meaning failure. But with hands held and knees knocking, we pressed on and our luck turned. By the judge’s count, on the one hundred and third question, we gained the centre of the hub. The scene became deathly quiet. The pressure was almost unbearable as Team 3 considered the deciding category and chose, Art & Literature. The tension increased and we held hands tighter. The audience buzzed, then hushed as the question was posed.

“In Alice in Wonderland… What did the Knave of Hearts steal from the Queen of Hearts?”

Carol shoulders slumped and she sighed. We conferred. She knew the answer. I agreed. We delivered it together… “Tarts!”

“Correct!” The audience exploded in cheers. We hugged in relief, first like shipwreck survivors and then in joy at achieving both fame and fortune. Our opponents congratulated us, the cheque was presented and the media interviews followed.

At home I poured a celebratory drink and toasted Carol. “Here’s to you; thanks for stepping up, honey! You were a rock and saved us many times.”

“At least it was worth it!” Carol replied.

Years later when telling the story to friends or family, they always ask the ultimate trivia question, “What did you get?”

Carol had that answer too. “John got the glory and I got a granite countertop!”

~John Forrest

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