Quizzical

You may have noticed I have a lot of opinions about food and drink. Though I usually become a regular at places I find especially delicious, I’ve allowed myself one exception. Despite my indifference to its beer selection, I lived a decent chunk of the last 7 or 8 years inside Pacific Standard’s doors, and I do not regret it.

I don’t even remember why I first rolled into Pacific Standard with some friends. I think we were just looking for somewhere to hang out. I fell in love with its living room atmosphere, which soon became for me that ultimate cliche, a home away from home. I wrote my grad school application on one of its couches. I learned to care about football while watching the Giants play the 49ers (an ill-advised choice as a new Giants fan at a California-themed bar) and go on to beat the Patriots in the Super Bowl. I trash talked my way through many a cooperative card game.  But most important of all was the ritual of pub quiz.

I’d always thought it’d be nice to have a pub quiz team, even though I am not especially great at trivia. It seemed like the sort of thing cool grown-ups would do to hang out (or, well, like having Friends-type friends, but for nerds). It took a while for my team to cohere but it did, with four core members, along with many guests putting in appearances through the years, including a couple of notable ringers who’d join us at finals time. (We return the favor up in Williamsburg.)

My boyfriend is the quiz expert (one legendary tiebreaker round he wrote down about 30 New York counties in a minute), but I had my moments (food, subways, identifying pictures of dog breeds). Our two regular teammates also have their areas of expertise, particularly movies–a category my household is comically ill-equipped to contemplate–and a devotion to current events and the world around us (the quizmaster had an especial fondness for asking about meteor showers). Almost every Sunday, as easy as breathing, working, sleeping, we’d show up, get a table, spend a couple hours answering questions, play some board games, gird ourselves for the work week with some friendly faces. (I called one team our fremeses, since one of them used to work at one of my publishers and we developed a jovially insulting friendship of sorts; it turned out one of my current coworkers was also a quiz devotee.) Attending quiz was so much our default mode that lots of weeks we might not even bother to ask if anyone was showing up, since we knew they were unless we heard otherwise.

My team and its train portmanteau names (The Love Song of Jay Street–MetroTech our flagship) were pretty darn successful, generally coming in the top 3 each season once our lineup cohered. We rolled on through all sorts of stresses and joys, through endless summer walks and begrudging winter Lyft rides, fancy dinners and bar quesadillas, other friendships made and lost. Even when I wasn’t in a very good mood, I was grateful for the opportunity to keep in regular touch with my teammates, and to not give in to ennui and self-pity on otherwise dead-end Sunday nights. Most everyone I care about passed through Pacific Standard at some point or other, whether to play trivia for a night or a year or four, or just to help us drink away our winners’ bar tab or, one glorious time, our chosen keg of Berliner weisse.

I can’t believe it’s over. I keep reflexively trying to plan my weekends around it. I’m sure I’m forgetting a hundred things about it that I want to tell you. If you have any leads for the endless future of Sunday nights, let me know.

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Note: I was inspired to write this since one of our competitors wrote a lovely article for Grub Street encapsulating what made the bar, and especially the trivia, so great; I encourage you to read it.

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