That time my one special skill turned out to be a dud

Source: No attribution required, but I thought it’d be nice to give them a shout-out

If you know me, you know that I claim to be an endless source of random animals facts. How many hours a day do koalas sleep? How much stronger are the neck bones of a giraffe than other mammals? What’s the mating ritual of an elephant seal? Which animals can change their eye colors (reindeers, hat tip Mikko Tervahauta)? I’m not shy about it, either. You’ll get an earful from me if the subject ever comes up in polite conversation. And the subject will come up. I’ll make sure of it.

A few years ago, a group of friends and I went to a weekly bar trivia. The bar we went to regularly was called Boss Tweed’s Saloon on the Lower East Side. There were three rounds of trivia, similar to Jeopardy, except the wagering structure wasn’t quite as flexible. I brought a few random things to the team, but I told them repeatedly that if the final’s round’s question involved random animal facts, that I had them covered. That coveted free pitcher and free round of well drinks would be ours, our team name immortalized forever[1] on the trivia whiteboard.

One week, the trivia host announced that the topic for the final round would be “Animal Facts”. “This is what you were born for, Ikai!” My teammates were ecstatic. We were going to win.

The question: “This island off the coast of Nova Scotia is also the name of a muscle as well as a baby porpoise.”

These are actually dolphins, but I couldn’t find any stock photos of porpoises on

My mind began racing. I started cycling through muscle names. Bicep, tricep, quads, abs, pecs, delts … obliques? Could it be the Oblique Island? That was it, right? The other ones didn’t make any sense, right? I suppose a baby porpoise could be called an “oblique”. The beer was definitely making us smarter. I ran the options past my group, who all agreed that, out of the choices I had given them, that seemed the most reasonable.

So we loaded up as many eggs as we could into our basket, and we bet the maximum number of points allowable. “Obliques,” we wrote onto our card, and we I handed it in, triumphantly walking back to our team. Victor was so close I could already feel the burn from the well shots in my throat.

The timer expires, and the host lets the tension build up a bit, before going through all the cards, tallying up the points, and announcing the winner. It was not us. We did not win. Glory, the free pitcher of Bud Light, and well shots were not ours to be had.

Because a baby porpoise is called a “calf”.

[1] For the definition of “forever” referring to “a week or less”