My marketable skills do not include the ability to change a tire or a diaper. I do, however, have excessive knowledge of useless information. So while I might not be able to tell you whether to run uphill or downhill when encountering a grizzly bear, I can tell you who won the best supporting actress honor in the 1992 Academy Awards. Google has effectively made this skill worthless except in one instance, trivia night at the local pub.
I once took this ability to the big time. I answered an ad on Craig’s List to try out for a game show. It was a big cattle call, hundreds of people made the pilgrimage to a Culver City soundstage to audition for a new game show called One Verses One Hundred. We had to take a written test and then tell them a little bit about ourselves. I learned a couple secrets about game shows. Every contestant is an aspiring actor who lives in LA, but is told to describe themselves by their day job and the city where they were born rather than what part of Los Angeles in which they pay rent.
I was surprised when I was called back not once, but twice. The first time there were only four other people where we all had to muster enthusiasm while a camera was pointed at us. The second time I was led up to a makeshift stage where a bearded producer acted the part of the host. I think I lost my opportunity to be on the show when inbetween questions he bantered with me, “David, I hope you take advantage of eating at the Rascal House a lot.”
The Rascal House is a now defunct delicatessen in North Miami Beach where senior citizens would line up by the dozens to eat a pastrami sandwich. When he mentioned that place I didn’t put two and two together and just said, “That’s funny I used to go there as a kid. I’m actually from Miami.”
“I know that.”
“You wrote that on your information card.” My confusion must have been what cost me a chance to be on the show. I was invited to be a member of the audience, but once you get that close to the big leagues, it’s hard to sit in the stands.
But enough time had passed, so participating in the local trivia night did not bring tears of regret. The emcee of this evening wore a nice suit. He was a little bitter that this would be the last trivia night at this establishment after nearly three years. “We’ve had too many nights with only three people showing up and this takes a lot of time and effort on my part.”
This time and effort included coming up with questions and then having to grade the written answers and tabulate the scores. As we grabbed the pencil and papers we guessed what his job might be that he would have to go to after this night time affair. The best guesses we could come up with were mob lawyer and manager of a nice hotel during the graveyard shift.
He introduced the rules. No phones were allowed to be out. After falling behind early we were sure some of these drunkards were cheating. After the second round though we climbed up to fourth place. That was when the emcee said he had to leave to go to work. I shouted out, “What’s your job?”
“I’m an airline pilot.”
“What were you doing drinking all night?”
“That was Coke.” he said very defensively. Airline pilots don’t take lightly this reputation of alcoholism.
His co-pilot took over and it was quickly apparent the host of a game show is a more difficult procedure than it appears. This guy couldn’t keep score. He couldn’t get the right questions on the screen and gave away an answer if you were listening carefully. But he asked the right questions and we provided the right answers. Second place was ours. A twenty dollar discount on the bar tab. So let that be a lesson to you kids, go to school. Knowledge does pay.