I was at this trivia night at a bar by my place a few nights ago, and one of the questions was, “Agoraphobia is the fear of what?” And I knew it, I’ve heard this trivia question a thousand times before. I told my friends, “I got this,” as I snatched the answer card from the middle of the table, and I started writing right away, “Fear of open spaces.”


And my friend Bill objected, “Rob, you can’t just write stuff in without consulting the group.” But I knew it, OK, “Bill, I one hundred percent know the answer to this question, all right? It’s agoraphobia. It’s a fear of open spaces. It’s the opposite of claustrophobia. OK?”

“OK Rob, that’s fine, but it’d still be cool if you could just talk it out with the rest of the group before you just grab the pad, OK?”

And I said, “Bill, do you have a better answer? Do you have a different definition for agoraphobia?” And he didn’t. So that was that.

Only, when they were reading the answers back, the announcer said, “Agoraphobia is: the fear of leaving your house.” And I said to my table, “Do you think she’ll count our answer?” Because, yeah, it was kind of the same answer. They were worded totally differently. But if you think about it, right, claustrophobia is that fear of being cooped up, right, and so if you want to be cooped up, like if you like hanging out inside, that’s the opposite. You’re going to be agoraphobic.

So I waited until the end of that round and I went up to the quizmaster, she was busy putting everybody’s scores into the computer, but I just needed her attention for a second. “Hey, quizmaster, remember that agoraphobia question from before? Did you accept our answer? Fear of open spaces?”

And she looked up at me and was like, “Agora-what? Huh?”

“Yeah, from before, agoraphobia.”

And she put down what she was doing and clicked a few times on the computer screen before reading something out loud, word for word, “Agoraphobia is the fear of leaving your house.” Even the intonation was identical, she repeated it exactly like she said it the first time.

“Right, I remember the answer. But we wrote fear of open spaces. Which is kind of like a similar way of saying what you said, right? Because trust me, I know this answer.”

“Look man, I have to go by what’s on the computer, OK, so, I probably didn’t give you guys credit for agoraphobia. Sorry dude.”

And I took out my phone, because while she was busy butchering the answers to well known questions, I just had to double check, on the Internet. I found some Google search and I was like, “Look, just take a look here …”

“Dude, I just have to go by the computer, all right? And seriously, no cell phones during trivia night, OK, that’s not cool, I could disqualify you.”

And so, whatever, she wasn’t budging. Of course I felt like she was on a power trip, I mean, give me a trivia mic and I’d probably be just as ruthless. But this wasn’t fair. And when I got back to the table, Bill made sure to position the pen and pad like totally across the table from where I was sitting.

We were in a six-way tie for third place for most of the next two rounds, and everyone kept giving me the stink-eye, making sure to remind me that we could have been in a five-way tie for second. “Are you one hundred percent sure?” Chris said, mocking my self-assuredness from before, every time I pitched an answer to the rest of the team.

It was useless. Even if nobody knew the following answers, they’d never give any of my wildcard guesses a shot. Whatever, there was a music round later in the night, and we only got like two or three answers, so even if we had scored that agoraphobia, it wouldn’t have done us much good.

“Besides,” I kept badgering Bill on the way out the door, “Did you have a better answer for agoraphobia? Did any of you?” And nobody answered. Because nobody did.

And then when I went home, I went on my computer to really get a full-screen definition of agoraphobia. And this one web site said, “It’s not the opposite of claustrophobia. It’s a fear of any situation in which there is no escape.”

Which, that includes an open space right? Come on, I remember so clearly studying for the SATs, agoraphobia, the fear of open spaces. Where is all this stuff about anxiety and panic attacks coming from? Isn’t that just like a fear of everything? And even if that’s the case, don’t open spaces also fall into that category of everything?

I’m just saying, man, agoraphobia, if they’re going to run a trivia night, I’m not saying the quizmaster needs to know everything, but just a general familiarity with basic stuff, that would be nice. Doesn’t that seem like a quizmaster prerequisite? Right?