“What was your favorite thing to do in England, Simey?” Bubba asks, licking the frothy beer foam clinging to his moustache. I take a moment to ponder the question: it is difficult to select just one. I take a thoughtful sip from my own beer and answer, “Pub quizzes, I suppose.”
“What are they?” asks Bubba, his interest clearly piqued.
“Well, you and your mates go down to the pub and compete against other teams to answer a load of obscure questions. Whichever team answers the most questions correctly gets a prize.”
“Oh!” says Bubba with boyish glee. “Trivia night!”
“Alright,” I say. “Trivia night. I miss trivia night, Bubba.”
Bubba contemplates my response for a good while, taking long draughts of his beer as he considers. Before long the beer foam hangs on his moustache like glacial ice and his tall pint glass is empty. He pulls himself another draft and thinks some more.
“I think…” he says finally, ” …I think we need to have a pub quiz.” Without another word he fishes his mobile from his pocket and begins dialing. One by one his cajoles what seems like half of Chipping Norton into coming to The Greene Grocer to help him hatch his plan, and twenty minutes later my little shop is packed with the glittering intelligentsia of rural Virginia.
It will be tempting to imagine that I am joking by using the word “intelligentsia,” but I am most certainly not. Bubba, Mike, Tommy Higgins and the exquisite Mary Robins, and two dozen of their friends put on a dazzling display of intellectual firepower as they argue over which questions should be included in the pub quiz. Bubba insists there ought to be at least one question about the human genome project, and Mike says he won’t play unless string theory is a topic. Tommy and Mary Robins are embroiled in a Shakespeare recitation duel. Others argue over international monetary policy and plate tectonics. It is my opinion that they have begun to lose focus.
“Everyone,” I say feebly, hazarding a suggestion. “The idea behind a pub quiz is that you chose topics that are hard, but not too hard — to give participants a fighting chance.”
Everyone stares at me in momentary silence, as if no one has an earthly notion what I’m talking about. It dawns on me suddenly that, to this lot, these are the easy questions. Once again, I have fallen into the insidious trap of having stereotyped these country people, exposing my own shortcomings rather than those I had perceived in them. I realize that I have grown to love these quirky, crazy fruit cakes.
Bubba sees things differently. Sensing that the group has excluded me from what was once my favourite pastime, he quiets his friends and walks back over to me.
“Sorry, Simey,” he says tentatively. “We kinda left you out. What questions do you think we ought to include?”
“How about Virginia history?” I say with a smile.
© 2014 Middlechurch Musings, LLC