Tuesday, April 22, 2008

COLUMN: Banned

(or, the column where Shane ticks off half the Catholics in town.)

Time for a quick quiz: Name three things in history that have been banned by the church. Go!

Okay, let's see. 1) Abortion. Hmm, lemme think. Oh, okay: 2) Harry Potter. One more to go... umm, something banned by the church, eh? OH! I know. 3) ME.

That's right, folks. I am officially a Bad Boy. You read correctly -- lil 'ol me has been unceremoniously banned from an area church. The way I see it, I am one motorcycle and a temporary tattoo away from being an official menace to society.

It didn't even take much, either. I didn't have to bite the head off a bat or anything. Heck, I didn't even get a chance to bear false witness. Truth be told, I was banned from a church for reasons quite trivial.

Unless you've been living under a rock, you've probably been exposed to the recent wave of charity trivia contests happening around town. What started as a small monthly gathering at the Blue Grass Community Club has evolved into an outright local fad. If it's a Saturday night, you can almost guarantee that somewhere close by, teams are gathering together to test their knowledge and raise money for a host of worthy causes.

I'm part of a team that plays in trivia events nearly every weekend. In fact, there's a good chance you might actually hate me. See, my team has this nasty habit of winning nearly every event we attend. I look at it not as a stroke of luck or a triumph of skill -- it's more like a testament to the pitifully embarassing nerds that we are. If you get beaten by my trivia team, don't feel bad. Pity us and take pride that you've had better things to do with your life than let piles of useless knowledge stack up in your brain.

My teammates are weird trivia junkies. We met one another at various trivia functions and joined forces to become a giant, 8-headed nerd monster. We're not undefeatable by any means - in fact, we've had our egos handed to us on many an occasion. But if the questions line up just right, we can be unstoppable.

We've got a geography guy, a history guy, a sports buff, a lit junkie... heck, we've got a 14-year-old on our team with more book smarts than the rest of us put together. And then there's me. I am our team's go-to guy for the most useless of knowledge: pop culture. I fit in nicely, as my smarty-pants teammates tend not to care a whole lot about Paris Hilton.

Most importantly, we make each other laugh -- and that's what we were doing the other night at a trivia event held at a Davenport church when all heck broke loose.

It wasn't the first time. At the same church last year, we were in the middle of a round of questions when one of the event staff came to our table and demanded that we immediately remove our notebooks. Our BLANK notebooks, mind you, which we use to scribe out and debate answers around the table. We were stunned, but obliged -- only to have the same dude hover over our table with a wary eye for the rest of the night. They never said it out loud, but the inference was loud and clear: someone suspected us of cheating.

Really? Come on now. Cheating at a charity benefit, especially one at a CHURCH, in hopes of winning the grand prize of $20? In the great list of Reprehensible Acts, that would be somewhere between baby-stealing and beating up Santa Claus. My teammates were flabbergasted and some vowed never to return to that church.

Me, I could forgive and forget. And besides, this church held great events. So we put together a new team and signed up for their contest last weekend. We even brought nine players, since we had routinely seen other oversized teams at their past events. We had something to prove, and this time, we left the notebooks at home.

The game went our way. There was even a Beatles category for me to salivate over. We won handily and felt redeemed. All in all, it was a great night out... until the organizers declared that our team had to forfeit due to our extra player. Never mind that 9-person teams could be seen all over the room and that a TEN-person team had won there last year. Never mind that they gladly took the entry fees from all nine of us without complaint.

Our team captain was livid and went to complain. We didn't care about taking home a prize, we cared about respect. Eventually, they begrudgingly credited us with the win. But as we packed up to leave, things escalated. Suddenly, there was the event organizer quite literally SCREAMING at our team captain, calling us "losers." Calling us things I can't print in a family paper. And -- in the middle of a church, mind you -- yelling at us to "get the (expletive) out and never come back." Not that I'd dream of returning.

It's stupid to get worked up over what's supposed to be a fun game for a good cause. I suppose it was stupid of me to write complaint letters this week to everyone from the church pastor to the head of the Davenport Diocese. And maybe it's stupid of me to whine about it in a column. But being called a loser and getting banned from a church wasn't exactly on my weekend "to-do" list, so I think I deserve a whine or two.

In the meantime, I guess I've got to get used to my newfound bad boy image. Join me next week, when I take candy from babies and rip tags off mattresses with wild abandon.

1 comment:

Socialist Christian Hippie said...

God bless.

I always wondered about these things as I am quite the trivia guy. I have no time, but enjoy trivia.

I am sure my dream team could beat your dream team. If we ever had time to play.

If my church ever has a trivia night, you will be first on our list.