My older brother helps me out in so many ways. Mostly by being the dutiful oldest son who watches after my mother and keeps her from falling into holes and the like. This is magical and an irreplaceable resource, but I am forever in his debt for keeping me attached to all things Boulder and what continues to my tether to the place I called home for so many years.
This past weekend he sent me a reminder for the fiftieth anniversary of the University of Colorado Trivia Bowl. I spent many years hearing about this annual event, and watching it from the sidelines, no more so than when my older brother was going to college there. It was a week-long spectacle that dominated campus life and kept hundreds if not thousands of students and fans of the obscure preoccupied with all things trivial. It wasn't until I had graduated from that same university that my own active participation began. This was during the heyday of Trivial Pursuit, a board game that eventually everyone in my particular circle of friends refused to play with me because they assumed that I had memorized all the cards. Which was flattering, and quite a feat if I had actually done that, but it was more a reflection of all the useless bits of information I stored in my pop culture laden brain.
My entree to the actual competition was my good friend and former manager at Arby's, Waldo. As a contestant on Tic-Tac-Dough, he had managed to live through a round of that Wink Martindale on an actual television game show. He had the cred. I was a late acquisition and found myself, as an employee of a video store, the go-to movie guy. That first evening under the lights in the Glenn Miller Ballroom was an awakening. I remember staring straight ahead, only glancing to the right when a visual was projected on the screen behind us. My thumb was poised on the buzzer and quickly learned that it's not just what you know but how fast you push your buzzer. Our team, Renegade Poodles from Hell, won their first match, and I was hooked. The next night we went down in a blaze of glory, but I vowed to return. And win.
We never did. Using various permutations of the Poodle name, our team tended to come out like gangbusters but wilted when the competition grew too fierce. There were doctors and lawyers who were flying in from around the country just to spend their spring vacation competing in this little venture.
And now, having never managed to bag a trophy of our own, the Poodles are just a tiny bit of trivia in a much bigger sea, one that spans fifty years: a footnote to a footnote. I am so glad that my older brother keeps track of things like that for me. Like finding the prize in a box of Cracker Jacks.