2012 was the best year of my life. I’d say “so far”, but I honestly do not believe that any future year can possibly compete with this killer year. It is THE gold standard that all future years of my life will aspire to achieve – and, barring the year that I win an Oscar (because that’s definitely happening), will probably be the only year to reach such a high mark.
Ending such an auspicious year is no easy task. I started my day by traveling to visit friends, with whom I have spent much of the year, despite our attendance of different colleges no less than five hours away from each other. We had a great time playing Cards Against Humanity, as always, because we are terrible people. It was then suggested that we journey to the beach and play trivia one last time before returning to college.
There’s a restaurant (a Mellow Mushroom; pizzeria and bar, very good food) that holds trivia contests for gift cards every Monday. We’ve played there for many, many Mondays, though we have never won. We regularly ranked 4th, just out of the prize range, always failing on the various 80s pop culture categories. At a point we had stopped being particularly competitive, and just played for the fun and the good food we ate as we played. So tonight, we continued playing as we usually do, with out inside joke of a team name (“SPRINGBRAKE”) getting some right and getting some wrong. Heading into the final question, we had 62 out of a possible 75 points, and were ranked 6th out of some 30 teams. Not bad for a bunch of college freshman with no knowledge of 80s pop culture since none of us were alive to experience it.
The final question is always a question of ranking four things in some order, and each team is allowed to wager between 0 and 15 points. If they answer with the right order, they gain their wager; if not, they lose it. We normally operate on a strategy of betting nothing, assuming that most people will bet and get it wrong. This time, the first place team had 70 points, a solid 8 points ahead of us. Even betting nothing, we were unlikely to actually place. So we decided to bet it all – #YOLO, right?
The question was this: rank the following four people in order of their date of death, from the earliest to the most recent. Ray Charles, Steve Irwin, Paul Newman, and Anna Nicole-Smith. We all remembered hearing their dates of death, but for the life of us could not sort it all out. We knew that Ray Charles was first, but beyond that had no real idea where the rest of them fell. We settled on an order of Ray Charles, Steve Irwin, Anna Nicole-Smith, and Paul Newman, and wagered the full 15 points. We then began to pay our bills in preparation to leave the restaurant.
They then announced the answer. “Ray Charles was first, in 2004. Then, in 2006, we have Steve Irwin. In 2007, Anna Nicole-Smith.” I’m sure the announcer then read “And in 2010, Paul Newman,” but I didn’t hear that, because my table had erupted into raucous applause. It was the first time we had gotten the final question right in many, many weeks. Our total was now 77 points. We waited with bated breath as they began to announce the final scores.
“And in third place, with 62 points…” We all inhaled sharply.
“And in second place, with 67 points…” Our eyes widened.
“And in first place, our winner tonight, with 77 points, is… SPRINGBRAKE!”
Aaaand we lost it. We felt the eyes of every other team in the restaurant staring at us, bewildered that a bunch of obnoxious college students who had been yelling “ROLL TIDE” all night without any sort of context had somehow beaten them at a game of trivial knowledge of things that predated our birth. But we didn’t care.
It’s rather fitting, I find, that 2012 closes out with the accomplishment of a goal the pursuit of which has marked most of my fondest memories not only of 2012 but of my entire life. Playing trivia, having random adventures trying to find the source of fireworks in the middle of August, wandering through woods at 3AM with only a flashlight, doing all sorts of irresponsible things – all these things, done with the same group of friends, are things I will remember for my entire life. And finally, at the close of 2012, we accomplished our primary goal, set forth early in the year. I’m not sure I can think of a better way to close out what has been, unequivocally, the best year of my life.