Trivia Date

—Tuesday, October 4, 2011—

I really needed a date for the night and I was running out of time. I had been wanting to take Megan out for a few months and luckily, I had just run into her that past Saturday, so it wasn’t totally out of the blue to contact her about a date.

Megan was the roommate of my coworker Colin’s  girlfriend Theresa (mouthful!) and we first met several months earlier when she came to one of my improv shows with Colin and Theresa. She was very nice, very cute and seemed enthused about the project, so I figured I should ask her out. Plus, Colin indicated that she would be into it, so the fear of rejection wasn’t as high as it normally might be.

I had emailed Colin the day before, asking for Megan’s number and I texted her from my desk (thank you Google Voice Chrome extension), asking if she was free the next night. She was! Then I asked if she enjoyed trivia. She did! I gave her a time and place, and that was that.

It was official: This was, by far, the easiest date to set up. The whole thing took 1 email, six texts and about 10 minutes. Oh, the wonders of technology. It was so perfect. I was skeptical that any future date would easier than that.

Trivia Date 1

I showed up a few minutes early and went inside to make sure they were doing trivia that night. They were, which was cool. I hadn’t failed before I’d begun, which was a near constant worry in the world of dating.

As I walked back out, I got a text from Megan, “Hey I’m here. Are you?”

Huh? Yeah. I was right ther…”Oh, hey!” she said as I stepped out of the front doorway.

She was right there. I guess she had walked up while I was inside. We hugged each other hello. She was all smiles and seemingly enthusiastic. Megan’s friendly and upbeat nature was something I liked about her as soon as I had met her.

We had a half hour until trivia began so we sat down for some drinks. Neither of us was hungry just yet, so we waited on getting food. It took us a while to decide on beers since the place, Taproom No.307, was a craft beer bar. This fact immediately made it better than 90 percent of the bars in Manhattan running Tuesday night trivia.

As soon as we placed our orders, Megan launched into it: “How are the dates going??” It was the first thing she asked me and I couldn’t help but laugh. It was a completely appropriate question, but most people usually shied away from the subject or took a while to actually ask me about the project. It was admirable that she went right for it.

I had many dates where it never came up, or it came up very sparingly, which was somewhat surprising. Other dates, it became an important topic of conversation. The variety was well appreciated. It would have been a real drain if everyone wanted to talk about it or if no one wanted to at all.

Her second question: “Am I allowed to ask that???” Haha. I loved it!

“I don’t know how this works!” she emphasized.

“Yes, of course you can ask. You can ask whatever you want,” I told her. All my dates were allowed to know whatever they wanted about the project. They were agreeing to date me, after all. I didn’t want people to think I was hiding any dark secrets. Transparency was my confirmation name.

I told her that the dates were going well. There really hadn’t been any problems yet. As with most people I said this to, Megan wondered if that was really the truth. It was, I swore. The dates had been fine/good/pleasant at worst. I had been incredibly lucky and I tried to remind myself of that every day.

Megan wanted to know what I would do if I did have a bad date.

That was a question that had come up fairly often amongst friends and the truth is that I wasn’t really sure what I would do. The main thing was that I really didn’t ever expect it to happen. The people who went out with me were, by virtue of agreeing to something like this, people that I expected to get along with. Just because there was no spark didn’t mean we were on a bad date.

The only way I could see myself having a truly bad date, with no redeeming moments, was if the other person was truly terrible and malicious. However, I didn’t expect that to happen. Honest.

If a date went poorly, it was probably going to be my fault.

Next, she wanted to know how I got my dates. I got dates the same way everyone did: people I knew, friends of friends, random people I’d meet and online dating sites. The one oddball date source I had was that women would sometimes email me directly because of the site. I don’t think most people found dates that way.

As soon as I mentioned online dating, Megan asked if I had an OkCupid profile and she wanted to see it. I took out my phone and brought it up. Why not? She was already on a date with me. There was nothing to hide. I handed her the phone and she took her sweet time combing through my profile. She handed it back to me and said, “Thanks.” She had no questions. I was kind of surprised. I figured she would at least want to make fun of me for some detail in there.

The last thing in regards to the project that she was curious about was my editing process. Clearly, I didn’t write about every aspect of my dates. I’d mentioned in previous posts that I didn’t write about sex and clearly, I changed some people’s names.

My general policy was this:

1. Nothing related to sex, only kissing that occurred during the date.

2. I usually won’t even mention sleepovers — people assume too much.

3. No personal details which my dates request be left out.

4. Change names unless I know they’re cool with me using their real name.

5. Any date who wanted to review their post before it goes up has had the chance to do so.

Seemed fair, right?

We ordered another round of brew-has as the trivia host got himself set up. Megan told me about what she did for work, which was something in real estate finance. Her company basically assessed properties and then bought them as investments. It sounded pretty interesting actually and she really liked her job. She essentially worked as an analyst and thus got to tour lots of properties as a part of her day-to-day.

In fact, she had been touring a Manhattan property that day, which was why she was available for the date. She worked in Norwalk, CT so she usually wasn’t home until much later, but I caught her on the perfect day when she would already be in Manhattan. Imagine if I had tried to get a date with someone else for that night? It couldn’t have been. This date was just meant to happen that night.

Like I said, I was incredibly lucky.

Despite having known my coworker Colin for years, Megan didn’t have any idea what it was that we did for work. Colin and I actually had the exact same role, I told her, before launching into an explanation of our actual job functions. I could tell she was fascinated. Hahahaha. I’m kidding, guys. She was bored, probably.

TRIVIA TIME.

The way it worked was this: We got three questions a round and on each question in a given round, we could wager three, six or nine points, only using each value once. Between rounds, there were group play questions, in which we could find other teams with the same colored scorecard as us and collaborate on answers. Also, bonus points were awarded for funny answers at the host’s discretion.

All right. We understood the rules and were ready to play.

Oh, and we ordered some food while we were at it. It was time to eat, for sure.

I told her that music should be a strong category for me, but I’d be terrible with TV and film. This got us on to the topic of music and I asked her what sort of stuff she liked. Essentially, the way she answered me was to say she liked “regular music”. Pop and rock, you know, the basics. Megan liked her music to be fun, not heavy or dramatic. I asked if she enjoyed Florence & The Machine, to which she very enthusiastically said no. God, she hated that crap.

Megan’s response was so blunt that I had to laugh. I hadn’t met a single person, much less a woman, who actively disliked Florence & The Machine. She was so heartfelt and raw. Naw, none of that shit for Megan. Too sensational.

We clearly had very different takes on music.

She didn’t hide it though and she was not ashamed of what she liked, which I totally respected, so I didn’t mind that we butted heads in that regard. She asked what I listened to and I told her “everything” — definitely a lot of that indie bullshit Colin listened to as well.

Being the music expert I was, the first round had one question I knew we’d get correct, asking who wrote the song American Pie. We wagered the maximum nine points on it. Everyone knew Don McLean wrote that song, right? It was too bad Madonna had covered it and made it so whatever. I’ll be honest though, without its relevance to The Day The Music Died, the original never would have been anything either.

We continued to answer questions, but weren’t really doing very well as our food arrived. I gave my best shot at writing funny responses when we had no idea, but the host clearly didn’t appreciate my sense of humor. Oh well. He was the one with the booming trivia hosting career that I could only dream of having.

Finally, we hit a sweet spot when asked about the recently cancelled show The Playboy Club, and which Beverly Hills family owned the The Palms Hotel & Casio, where said club was located. I had no idea, but Megan knew the answer almost immediately. The Maloof Family, duh.

Another correct question about a material used in condoms (silicon), and we were actually doing all night.

Our first group play question was to name five Yankees pitchers who had had World Series wins in the last ten years. I was no baseball expert and I was certainly not a Yankees buff. Neither was Megan, so we took off in search of answers. The young couple one next table over, also using a blue scorecard, were quite nice and willingly helped us out. We went around the room confirming answers until we had our list.

After all that, we only got four out of five correct. Damn.

The host announced the current team standings and we were toward the bottom. Double damn.

I was terrible with actor’s names, so when the host asked a question about the supporting American character on NBC’s Outsourced, who was also on The Drew Carey Show, I knew who he was talking about before the question was even halfway out. But for the life of me, I could not think of the actor’s name.

Come on, Evan! Think! Nope, nothing.

GAH! Diedrich Bader, you bastard!

Here’s a question we were sure to get right: Which Chinese province is famous for its spicy cuisine? Duh, Sichuan.

WHAAAAA? Hunan? No way! Every single table got this question wrong. I’m calling shenanigans, trivia.

Our luck wasn’t all bad though. When asked which Italian designer, endorsed by Scarlett Johansson, couldn’t get the rights to their cheaper line of goods, Megan correctly guessed Dolce & Gabbana by a process of elimination. Nice!

Another one of the group play questions was to name five of Ryan Gosling’s last seven movies. As we went around and collaborated on answers, there was fairly unanimous agreement that The Notebook was more than seven movies earlier, so no one was including that one on their list. Nice try, trivia! Our suspicion was confirmed when we got the answers and aced all five!

In the end, we ranked 7th out of around 15 teams, so while it was not a particularly strong showing, it wasn’t all that bad either.

Our evening ended with the most interesting conversation of the night in which we talked about the benefits and drawbacks of creative careers versus corporate careers. I wanted to believe that you gave more of yourself when you pursued something creative but I knew from doing the corporate thing for a few years that you gave up a lot on that side too. I found it hard not to be cynical of corporate America, and the people that inhabited its tall glass-covered walls, but at the same time I knew so many people who lived in that world who were fulfilled by it, that I knew it wasn’t all bad.

Both creative pursuits and monetary pursuits had their selling points and their breaking points. People were involved in both pursuits for good reasons and bad. It was foolish to cast broad assumptions about either side.

The best business people were typically quite creative and the best artists were usually business minded. They were mutually beneficial. I provided Steve Jobs as an example. He really straddled the line between creative pursuits and business savvy, which was why he was perceived as the innovative person he had come to be in the public eye.

That was where I wanted to be: one foot on each side of the line.

We paid our waitress and headed out of the bar. It had been a really fun night. Megan and I were definitely very different in certain ways, but it was incredibly easy to have a good time with her.

It was an interesting case to make for dating. If you’d taken all of our information down and tried to match us up, we would be way off. Algorithms like those used on OkCupid would have given us a pretty low compatibility rating. Yet despite those more superficial things, we were able to go out and have a really great time together. I think it was a testament to personality over personal interests.

I hugged Megan goodnight and made my way toward the train.

[Note: Steve Jobs passed away less that 24 hours after this date. The ominous nature of my praise for Steve Jobs still seems a bit eerie to me. It was well deserved though. The guy may not have been a saint, but he was good at what he did and he helped shape the current landscape of consumer technology. Rest in peace, Steve.]