Always up for trying something new with new friends, and confident enough to admit I would be the weak link on a team, I participated in the NOTL Legion Branch 124’s music trivia contest.
I had made it clear I had almost no knowledge in this area, but would smile and enjoy the experience.
A light dinner was included, prepared by chef John Vanderlee, and the price was very fair.
No thanks to me, our team won first prize. Team captain Mark Derbyshire had suggested Reigning Champions as our team name, which was apparently appropriate after the last trivia night a few months back.
As our team of seven straggled in, I could tell I was among musical sharpies who knew their stuff and were ready to rumble.
Five or six other teams were around their tables, and none of us had any semblance of co-ordinated outfits.
Several players were wearing T-shirts that featured band names from long ago, some local, some international.
The bar was open featuring a few Niagara wines and ciders, and Budweiser beer was far and away the big seller.
Yes, ironic for a Canadian Legion, but this is the way it has apparently been for quite some time. Go figure, eh?
The trivial categories were clever, such as Movie Themes, Guitar Intros and Women’s Names in Songs.
On an unrelated note, I learned that if your brown sugar has gone hard, put it in a sealed Tupperware container with a half slice of bread. Within 10 hours, voila, soft sugar! Amazing.
Derbyshire deftly stepped into the role of team leader and skilfully listened to everyone’s input before writing down our “final answers.”
This is no easy task, as sometimes tough, ego-bruising decisions have to be made just before the time deadline expires.
Some people have the ability to be firm and fair without seeming bossy or draconian. Egos must be gently massaged.
I had never seen this side of multiple-time repeat Niagara-on-the-Lake men’s golf champion Derbyshire, also known as “Derby,” whose stride is so easily recognizable from Queen Street as he walks along the par-5 third fairway.
Straight and athletic posture, shoulders loose and swinging, confident, obviously in his natural habitat. So clear that the game of golf is embedded in his genetic makeup.
The effective music trivia team leader must include all team members, unless, of course, someone like me is at the table, as a self-professed musical nincompoop.
As we came to the fifth and final round, 10 questions each, our team was within one point of the lead, with a fair chance of repeating as champions. Repeating Reigning Champions had a nice ring to it, eh?
We dined well on chicken fingers and french fries from the kitchen of chef Vanderlee, who seemed to be totally competent and relaxed in his role behind the swinging doors.
The chicken was tender and appropriately seasoned, with a light breading that didn’t dominate or overwhelm the entree.
Several people at our table paired the food with a pleasant Jackson-Triggs Pinot Grigio. For me, Molson Canadian, in the absence of Oast House Barnraiser.
The tension was palpable as the last 10 questions were read out. I observed that our team was hot, focused on the task at hand.
Everyone was putting in their two cents’ worth and Derby was keeping the memory juices active.
Across the table from me, Linda had leaned in, trying in vain to mask her enthusiasm, contributing her comments as responses were mixed in.
The organizer of our table, Megan Vanderlee, was delighting in the enjoyment of the music trivia participants on this otherwise quiet Saturday evening in our historic town.
A good group of friends having fun together, competing, but heavy on the good natured banter. Respectful and humorous repartee between teams.
And when the winning team was announced, respectful applause all around.
I had to beg off early, after reminding my teammates that I had introduced myself as a musical knowledge featherweight.
When the trivia categories include geography and sports, I will leap into the front row, and be a major contributor to a team triumph.
That is, if I get invited back by the Reigning Champions.