Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Night of a Thousand Borrowed and Tired Catchphrases

Location: Lyn-Lake, Minneapolis, MN 55408, USA
I was going to file this under my other blog, Cool Minneapolis, but it turned out to not be that cool.

We met up with some friends at Sauce Spirits & Soundbar for a trivia night hosted by the guys pictured, Joe and Noah (Noah's on the left). I've been to Sauce once and didn't care for it: mediocre food, proud prices, and they list Absente as one of their brands of absinthe. The gaffe is that Absente doesn't contain wormwood, which is the definitive ingredient of absinthe. It's like, "Here's your scotch! Mind you, it doesn't have barley and it wasn't made in Scotland."

But we need to be social and these friends in particular are awesome people. And even though Sauce's crowd isn't my people (it tends to attract hipsters and young douchebags), I tell myself I'm still glad that events like this are going on. Tonight's trivia contest was '80s themed, and people have fun with that. Yeah. Imagine a week without a free, fun trivia night, and imagine a week with one. The latter week is better, right? It's great that this city has so many things for different people to enjoy, I tell myself.

Then we got to a certain multiple-choice question about when a song or a movie took place. The answers were: 1) 1989, or 2) 1990. My groups thinking was, This is an '80s trivia contest. No way would the answer not fall within the purview of the '80s. By the sound of the crowd when the answer was revealed, that was many people's thinking too. And even Joe and Noah admitted that it was a "contentious" question but they included it anyway. I had two absinthes in me and I thought I'd try a little heckling. Everyone was doin' it.

ME: How about an '80s trivia question about the Hindenburg disaster? Was it in 1989 or 1937?

NOAH: How about you shut the fuck up?

That was it. That was the witty rejoinder the bar found suitable to cheer. Noah plumbed the depths of his cultural reference and pieced together a desultory juxtaposition to entertain and provoke thought... Naah. He repeated something he'd heard a hundred times before, and not to be outdone, Joe chimed in: "I believe you've just been served!"

Translated: We're already so successful as an event night, we don't need any new patronage.

I had a comeback forming in my mind, but I decided not to prolong the agony. He had the mic, after all, and bereaved of humor or cunning he could always shout me down. It's not the audience's role to take the spotlight away from who's on stage (unless their stage presence is so nominal the beam simply slides off them in search of something substantial), and even if I did cook off a good comeback, what would that get me? The admiration of a roomful of drunk douchebags? This was not the hill I wanted to die on.

After the contest, as we packed up to leave, Noah approached our table. He glanced at me and then apologized to everyone else. "I was just having a gag," he explained to the four people he had not told to fuck themselves in front of a building full of strangers. My wife says this is my fault for looking so murderous, how could he possibly approach me, and that I deserved it in the first place for being a heckler. I don't know what anyone else's take was on it: I didn't do a lot of talking with anyone from that point on.

I was immediately reminded of the time my team (different people) won Triviasco!, and that host also took time out to award me "Biggest Douche of the Evening" for the amusement of everyone sitting in that half of Pizza Luce. No one had my back then, either, my own team thought it was hilarious. Or the time I left Mayslacks to invite a nearby friend to come out and see the live band (can't recall who; the frontman sounded like Johnny Cash), and upon return the lead singer announced to the bar that I'd been sucking my friend's cock in the bathroom. Again, the people I was with thought this the pinnacle of comedy and looked down on me for being upset.

What's to be learned from this? "Going out" is an activity not meant for me, and "friend" doesn't mean what I think it means.

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