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Revenge of the Nerds

More know-it-alls are taking to the bars to show off their big brains and pickle them at the same time.

Q. What is Mike Jones doing at the Irish Rover on a Monday? A. Not soliciting gay sex. Sort of.

Mike Jones and the Jäger girls are getting along famously. The two scantily clad swag-peddlers get up periodically to make the rounds at the Irish Rover, with red, flashing medallions illuminating their hips as they offer free Jägermeister T-shirts, hats and beads to the bar's customers — but then they return to the corner of the bar and continue gabbing with Jones, the male prostitute-turned-author who outed former New Life Church pastor Ted Haggard last fall. The sixty-plus people — fifteen or so teams — gathered here for the Geeks Who Drink Monday-night pub quiz don't pay much attention to the odd trio; there are questions to answer, trivia asses to be kicked. Between rounds, though, Quizmaster Lauren blasts "Back Then," a song by Houston rapper Mike Jones that features the lyrics "I'm Mike Jones, don't act like you don't know the name." Finally, a few of the players grasp what's happening and exhale drunken "whoo-hoos" of recognition.

It was John Dicker, co-founder of Geeks Who Drink, a pub-quiz company fast blanketing the state and beyond with its quirky approach to the standard trivia night, who landed Jones as a guest quizmaster. "I saw the questions Mike Jones wrote, and they're filthier than anything I could have ever hoped for," Dicker says with an almost maniacal smile. "This is going to be amazing."

He takes the microphone and starts to introduce the guest quizmaster for the evening, only to be flouted by mike problems. "God is mad at us," he jokes.

And then Jones comes up to the mike. "I just want to point out that the story broke November 1," he says. "And I haven't had sex since then, so if any of you boys out there are feeling a little lonely..."

Several people chuckle at Jones's creepy, faux (?) come-on, but three baseball-capped young men sitting at the bar take notable offense. Their body language is rigid, their faces scowling.

"Who cares?" says one member of Team Burgeoning Homophobia. "Just do your round already."

The other two nod in agreement.

After a fast plug of his book, Jones launches into his round, unofficially titled "Ted Haggard, Massage and Other Naughty Things."

"When Ted Haggard got fucked by me," Jones begins, adding particular emphasis to the word fucked, "which position did he want to try? A) Doggie style; B) Sit and spin; C) Missionary; or D) Was he passive and let me choose?"

While some players shriek with laughter, others earnestly discuss the question, trying to see if they can't come up with the correct answer. Surrealism be damned, there are valuable points to be earned. But Team Burgeoning Homophobia is not amused. While Geeks Who Drink never shies away from blue material, a male escort discussing his sexual exploits is not exactly par for the course.

"Should we leave?" Backwards Ballcap inquires. "I mean, I get it. It's funny or whatever, but give me a break."

Instead, they put an answer on their score card and listen for the next question.

"What was the favorite underwear of mine that Ted Haggard enjoyed wearing?" Jones continues, unfazed. "A) Stars and stripes thong; B) Jockstrap; C) Cum-stained dirty briefs; or D) Leather with no back door?"

Burgeoning Homophobia resorts to a round of car bombs. "No, I mean, I get it," one member stammers. "Like, I get the joke, I get it...but, like, enough, you know?"

John Dicker is sitting near Jones at the front of the bar; you couldn't slap the smile off his face.

"During a gay massage, what does 'Go deeper' mean?" Jones asks for his third question in a round of eight. "A) Stick more than one finger in the ass; B) Pound harder; C) Dig deeper into the muscle; or D) Swallow the entire cock without gagging. I'm sorry I'm so bashful."

"How about E) Who gives a shit?" Backwards Ballcap yells.

"Are you questioning Mike Jones?" Lauren asks. "Nobody questions the quizmaster. Douchebag!"

"Douchebag, douchebag!" the trivia players yell, using a well-honed Geeks Who Drink tool of putting uppity miscreants in their place. Backwards Ballcap turns around and drowns his sorrows in his beer. A tense silence falls over the bar, until a nebbish fellow in a corner booth finally breaks the tension.

"Besides," he says meekly. "We give a shit."


Q. Where in God's name did this strange tradition begin? A. The U.K. Probably.

The question of where bar-trivia games began is tough to answer. According to Chris Jones, director of Quizzing.co.uk and co-founder of the International Quizzing Association, the tradition became official in England in 1946. "I refer to the York Clubs and Institutes Quiz League," he says, citing a century-old nationwide association of member-owned social clubs that added a quiz division more than sixty years ago. "That league holds a certificate from the Guinness Book of World Records to substantiate their claim as the oldest."

But that's just the oldest organizedleague. Loose-knit unions of blokes pounding pints at a pub and unearthing trivia detritus from the nether regions of their memories for money, free booze, bonding or esteem predate any league. Jones has a book published in 1927 that he believes could be England's oldest quiz book; in it, the author writes of quizzing as a "new hobby."

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