Wednesday, May 03, 2017

The Legend Of Nevada Mark

At a recent pub trivia with my friend M and her friend Katie, we found ourselves faced with a deceptively simple question: “the desert known as Death Valley is in what U.S. state?”

I always had it in my head that Death Valley (the most arid, horrific desert of them all) was located in Nevada, a state that is roughly 90% desert, 9% slot machines and 1% Penn Gillette.  My childhood interest in the Undertaker also led to this conclusion, since I had some vague recollection of looking up where he was “actually from” and learning that yep, Death Valley was in Nevada.  Of course, the WWF announced the Undertaker as hailing* from Death Valley, a lay-up of a fake hometown if there ever was one.

* = my two favourite fake wrestling hometowns: 1. Issac Yankem (a wrestler with an evil dentist gimmick) hailing from Decatur, Illinois — as in ‘decay’-ter, get it?  2. “The Million Dollar Man” Ted Dibiase having a seasonal residence that switched up every few months, since he was so rich that he could obviously afford homes all over the world.

Katie, on the other hand, was pretty sure that Death Valley was in California.  Both she, and M to a lesser extent, remembered a Sweet Valley High novel from their teen-fiction days that was set in Death Valley, and since those characters all hailed from California, boom goes the dynamite.  I was skeptical; the SVH kids could just as easily have made a quick trip across the state border.  Surely not all of their adventures took place in the little town of Sweet Valley.  Those books escaped my attention when I was a kid, but certainly there had to be something like “Sweet Valley High Goes To Hawaii,” or “Sweet Valley High Visits Paris” or “Sweet Valley High Goes To Decatur, Illinois.”

M was more or less on the fence but leaning towards California, whereas Katie was quite adamant.  I was as equally adamant about Nevada.  We were at loggerheads, which as a sidebar, would be a great name for a pub.  (“Where were you two all night?”  We were at Loggerheads.”)  In a case like this, I referred to my usual wager when faced with a trivia team dispute; we put down my answer, and if I was wrong, I owed Katie a beer.  Why did we go with my answer over hers, with her offering a vice versa wager?  Maybe I pressed my case a little more strongly, or maybe the Undertaker just seemed like a more inherently reliable source than Sweet Valley High, who knows.  The point was, our guess was Nevada, and it was dead wrong, pardon the Undertaker pun.

Folks, the only thing more embarrassing in the pub trivia world than being “that guy who insists he is always right” is being “that guy who insists he is always right and is actually wrong.”  It wasn’t based on ego or anything, I just legitimately totally thought that Nevada was the correct answer.  I would’ve bet a thousand bucks on Nevada being the answer.

We lost the trivia night by multiple points, so at least that question didn’t cost us the game or anything.  Katie at least enjoyed her beer.  This was maybe the second or third time I’d met Katie and the first time I’d really met her in the sense of spoken to her for any length of time; the initial encounters were just casual “hi/bye” things at a party, or at a comedy show.  So since she was essentially a new face to me, whenever I’m referring to her with M, I now call her Death Valley Katie.  My hope is that this catches on, since giving her such a badass nickname should more than atone for my poor trivia team etiquette.

On the flip side, this could also lead to my being known as Nevada Mark.  I’ve written before about my lifelong ambition to get “Mark The Shark” as a nickname, so this new one could either be a step in that ultimate direction (a shark at a casino table, perhaps?) it’s also not a bad nickname on its own.  I’ve been to Nevada, for one.  I’m sure that my week spent in Las Vegas when I was fourteen years old counts as a lifelong affinity for the state, sure.  We went to see Hoover Dam!  Maybe that’s why my family refers to me as That Dam Mark all the time.

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