Powerball has come to California. The folks at the legalized gambling center would like us to "Believe in something bigger." Pick a few numbers and take a chance to win a billion dollars. Or maybe a little less. I was never a fan of taking that kind of chance. Even though I am certain there are scientific ways to determine the random combinations that pop out of the machine every few days, but since my mathematical acumen topped off per-calculus, I will settle for something a little more in my wheelhouse.
Like winning tickets to a concert on the radio.
Last week, as I was rustling about in my classroom listening to the twenty-five minutes of radio that my schedule allows before school begins, I heard the siren's call: "If you know anything about Barenaked Ladies, get ready to call in." It just so happens that I know my share about the Canadian band, having latched onto them more than twenty years ago. I've seen them in concert numerous times. I've done them the considerable honor of actually buying their CDs, rather than simply downloading a song or two. I moved to the phone and readied myself.
This is a place I've been a number of times over the past few years. I have tried to win Bruce Springsteen tickets. I've tried to win Rolling Stones tickets. I've tried to win tickets to shows that I didn't really care to see, but the winning part was important to me. This is the one area left, since Trivial Pursuit has disappeared as a national pastime, where my knowledge of minutiae comes in handy. Most of the time, however, I am stopped at the moment I get a busy signal. It's all that re-dialing that pushes me further and further away from the front of the line. I know that knowing the correct answer isn't enough. It's getting the correct answer first.
This particular morning, the phone rang: "KFOG, can you hold?"
Of course I could. For a chance to be a winner? I listened as The Clash played in the background just ahead of the five second delay coming through my radio. Then I was talking to the DJ. "Hello, who is this?"
"Well Dave, are you prepared to test your knowledge about the Barenaked Ladies?"
For a moment I froze. All the facts and figures about Steve and Ed and Tyler and Jim and Kevin drifted away. I feared I would waste this moment.
I needn't have worried. It turned out the quiz was a multiple choice. I knew that the Ben and Jerry's flavor named for the band wasn't Americone Dream or Visualize Whirled Peace. It was "If I Had A Million Flavors." Just like I knew that after going to see Peter Gabriel, Steve and Ed decided to put together a band of their own. It wasn't Rush or Bob Dylan. For the win? I was asked what TV show they wrote the theme. I didn't hear the other choices. I knew, because the show plays in my house three or four times a week at the very least: The Big Bang Theory.
I had won. Not randomly. I won with superior skills and knowledge. And maybe a little luck, since it turns out that I was the second person to call in. The first guy didn't know his Barenaked trivia. Maybe he should go out and try his hand at Powerball.