June 21, 2005

I am being so virtuous this evening. I got home from work, went for a run, started the laundry, and then cooked all the food I'll need for the next couple of days using up most of my farmers' market produce. Next up on the list was dusting, so I decided to write a journal entry instead. So here I sit, wearing my laundry outfit: olive skirt, red t-shirt, purple cardigan. I don't always wear the same thing to do my laundry, but I always wear something equally mismatched and garish cobbled together from all the clothes I don't care to wear for the next couple of weeks.

I've been working hard at work, too. But last Friday, I told my summer student to take the day off, and I decided to skip out a couple of hours early myself. I was hoping to nap and maybe clean the house a little bit in preparation for the dinner guests we were having over on Saturday night. But as soon as I got home, I found that I had a message on my phone from Mo. "Hey Jen Wade!" she said, "Song airline is doing this trivia contest and they're giving away free plane tickets to Boston, and it's really easy and I won and a bunch of my co-workers won and they're going to be at 18th and Castro from 4 until 7 and you should go!"

I was torn. On the one hand, I was so exhausted, and entering a trivia contest is not my idea of fun even under the best of circumstances. On the other hand, I wanted a free plane ticket, since I was planning on going to the East Coast in a couple of months anyway. And 18th and Castro is not very far from my house, so I hesitated for about 15 minutes, and then cheapness won out and I caught a train to the Castro.

And when I got there, I saw Jen Fu, also waiting to win her free plane ticket. But nobody was winning any free plane tickets yet, because as the woman in the Song t-shirt explained to us, some asshole had parked his Mercedes in the spot reserved for the bus where the trivia contest was going to be held. "We called the DPT an hour ago, and they're supposed to send someone to tow it," she said. I groaned, knowing that it takes hours to get anybody towed in this city if the DPT even bothers to show up at all. Oh well, Jen and I had a chance to catch up on the past couple of weeks and to listen to some sample questions. That's when I realized that the trivia was all pop culture trivia, which seriously minimized my chances. I don't have cable television, I don't listen to popular radio, and I hardly ever go to the movies, especially not mainstream ones.

Eventually, Mercedes guy showed up and they were able to get started. Jen and I decided that we didn't want to go up against each other in the same round, so she went in with the first group of 14 people. They were giving plane tickets to three people out of every round, and Mo said that if you didn't win, you could just get back in line again, so I figured our odds were pretty good. And indeed, Jen was one of the winners! And now it was my turn.

Everyone was ushered into the bus, which was decked out with airplane seats, and we were all given paddles, like you'd get at an auction. When a question was asked, you were supposed to raise your paddle and then when you were called on, give the answer. Mo had said that the secret to winning was to just be the first one to raise your paddle, so I was ready. And when he asked the first question (after a lengthy and boring spiel about the airline and their state-of-the-art leather seats) I sprung into action! And that's when I realized that from where I was sitting, there was no way the announcer guy could see me and I had no chance whatsoever of winning. As I sat there, listening to question after question, and knowing that I could not win, I started to fill with rage, which is pretty silly considering that it was just a stupid contest that I could enter again, and I couldn't have even answered the other questions anyway!

Jen Fu had waited for me, and I had to hang my head and tell her that I had to get in line again. She was kind enough to wait with me, and it only took maybe 15-20 minutes to get back up to the front of the line. And this time, I was determined. I shoved my way to the best seat on the bus, right in the middle of the front row, dead ahead of the announcer. First they gave away a couple of smaller prizes, and then it was time to give away the tickets. "This next one is pretty easy," the announcer said, "so have your paddles ready!" I was ready! And that's when time began to slow down, just like a dramatic moment in the movies.

"What was the first name," he asked, "of Kate Winslet's character..."

"Kate Winslet," I thought to myself, "oh shit, this is going to be about that 'Finding Neverland' movie that I never saw, isn't it? Damn!"

"...in the movie 'Titanic'" he finished.

"TITANIC! I'VE SEEN 'TITANIC!'" I screamed inside my head while I raised my paddle as if my life depended on it.

To my shock, the announcer pointed to me. "Right there," he said. Everyone else groaned. They knew this one. "Sorry," he said, "but I saw her first," gesturing to me again. And that's when I realized that I had no clue what kate Winslet's character in that movie was called. Sure, I'd seen "Titanic." But that was when it was released in the theaters in 1997 and hadn't really thought much about it since.

Everyone turned to look at me. "Uhhhh..." I said, stalling for time. Everyone else knew the answer and they all glared at me for stealing their chance. "You have five seconds," said the announcer, although actually by the time he said that it seemed like it had already been several minutes. "Five! Four!" the announcer and everyone else started counting down, and I tried furiously to block it out and think. For some reason, I remembered that Leonardo DiCaprio's character was named "Jack," and I kept repeating that to myself in my head. Jack and...what? Shit, what was it?

"Three! Two!"

And all of a sudden I had it: "ROSE! Rose!" I don't know how, but it popped into my head. It was a miracle! They handed me my prize, and I was jubilant. My winning was especially miraculous since I had no clue about the other two ticket-winning questions, one of which was something about the band Savage Garden, and another was about "Dirty Harry," which I haven't seen (although I've been meaning to).

And then I floated home and finally took my nap.

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