On St. Marks Place in the East Village, across the street from Tompkins Square Park, there's a sliver of a place called The Belgian Room. Like everything in New York, it's about ten feet wide, and you'll only find it if you're actively looking for it or haphazardly trip over the pavement sign while trying to figure out which set of buildings across the street were the ones from the Physical Graffiti cover. "I think that's it." "I think you're right, dear." "Shit. I just fell into another bar."
I stumbled across The Belgian Room in not so different a fashion.
For three months I was a tourist in the city, masked as an aspiring New Yorker. I paid rediculous rent fees and was nearly struck by a cab a few times. I woke up each morning and brushed my teeth while watching a cockroach climb out of the drain. It's sterotypical, postcard New York, but, in my experience, it's true. But's it's also a city filled with friendly transplants, who say "hi" back when you're sitting on a stoop and trying to force something to happen. And, sometimes, your new friends will ask you to come in and have a beer.
Like the habitual creature I am, once I find a place I like, I can't unfind it. So I kept going back. I went on any night of the week, under the guise of needing a drink, but really craving some company. I'd pick a stool and stare at the list of beers with indecipherable names on the chalkboard that hangs above the bar. Sometimes I'd ask "what's good?" Other times, I'd come dangerously close to just blurting out a mangled pronunciation of one of the beers on the board at the expense of exposing myself as a hick. Inevitably, though, I'd just point at the pink elephant tapper and say, " I'll have a Delirium."
While it's a tremendously tasty beer, with a beautiful blonde bloom and wheaty, spicy relish, it only takes one Delirium to get you agreeing to all sorts of things. So when the topic of conversation around that curvy, wooden behemoth of a bar turned to the inagural Belgian Room trivia night and it's lack of a host, all of a sudden, I'm Pat Sajack.
In retrospect, I'm not sure I was asked to do it so much as I told them I was doing it.
And while I'm better for the experience, I'll never do it again. There's a segment of the human population that takes trivia night WAY TOO SERIOUSLY. People show up with that Michael Jordan flu game look in their eyes. It's nasty stuff. But if you truly aspire to be the Bozo the Clown of grand prize trivia night, here are some helpful tips from a failed host:
- Remember to keep score. Oh, God is this important. They know if you're winging it.
- Round #4 questions should be asked in round #4 only.
- Under no circumstances should you give clues to a participant. No matter how desperate or tip-of-the-tounge they look, don't do it.
- Just because you're the host, you're not entitled to mid-round bathroom breaks. Similary, spontaneous suggestions of "smoke break?" will be unpopular.
- While reading off the answers, don't say things like "Well, I'll be damned" or "That was Napoleon? I thought it was Stalin." You're the trivia master. Act like you've been there before.
Lastly, while not a hard and fast rule, save the Delirium for the after party. Godspeed future trivia warloards.
Look - 3.5
Smell - 4.1
Taste - 4.2
Mouthfeel - 3.9
Overall - 3.9