The Batdans

Yesterday I got an email from my local cinema informing me that they were holding a Batman-themed quiz. This looked like a reminder email. It made reference to an earlier email which had presumably ended up in my spam folder. I was glad this one had not as I am both an avid fan of quizzes and anything Batman-related.

Yes. Even the Adam West movie with the hairy-lipped Joker and shark repellent.

I texted my friend Dan and told him about the quiz. He knows a bit about Batman, is indifferent to quizzes but does like beer, and the quiz was taking place in a bar. Job done! I emailed the cinema’s manager and told her in no uncertain terms that yes, I and my team were up for it. Our team name would be The Batdans.

Do you see what I did there?

The manager replied saying that since she and someone else had both been keeping track of teams separately and since it was now the day of the actual quiz she wasn’t actually sure if there was room for The Batdans. I was deflated. In the way that a balloon is deflated by a pin. Very quickly. And with an audible pop.

I decided to go to the cinema anyway – perhaps I’d (re)watch the new Batman film. I could pretend that someone was quizzing me about it during the quieter moments, and silently mouth the answers back. That would have to do.

I arrived at the cinema and was just about to buy my ticket (I’d gotten as far as saying ‘One for B-‘) when the cinema’s assistant manager, Fredo, bounded over to me with open arms.
‘You are back,’ he said.

I responded with my best puzzled face. It turns out my success at the earlier-in-the-year Avengers quiz had made me a minor celeb at this cinema and they had hoped I would return for the Batman quiz. I told him that the manager had thought there might not be room for my team, but Fredo assured me that he would make room.

I was taken upstairs and sat at a table for six. He gave me a bowl of pretzels, a bowl of cheesy puffs and a pen. Fredo put on a Batman mask and grinned at me. I felt uncomfortable.

As soon as Fredo left to ‘welcome’ the other teams I texted Dan and informed him that the quiz was on. He informed me that he was now building an Ikea desk in his bedroom and even if he left this very second he would probably miss the quiz. Pop.

Fredo returned, clipboard in hand.
‘Team name?’
‘The Batdans,’ I said.
Fredo looked at the empty seats around me. ‘And how many in your team?’
‘One,’ I said. Suddenly the plural in Batdans seemed heartbreakingly sad.

The quiz began and I won the first round. Fredo brought over the prizes for the first round (‘You are very clever, Dan!’ I nodded, despite my name not being Dan.) A couple of small Batman-family plastic figures – Metamorpho and The Riddler. I placed them on either side of my bowl of pretzels.

The second round begins.
I notice that most of the other teams are assembled from an integer number of couples. Men and Gals of Steel: two couples. Gotham Raiders: three couples. Bruce Wins: one couple.

I also take the second round. More plastic figures, this time Commissioner Gordon and King Tut. These I arrange so that they look like they’re enjoying my cheese puffs.

The third round is about the secret identities of various Batman villains. My speciality, probably.
I run through the obvious alter egos and then stroke my chin at the trickier ones. The Riddler… What’s his real name again? A pun, I remember, but…
‘Come on, you know this one!’
I look up. The Riddler grins back at me. His mouth full of crumbled cheese puff.
‘Do I?’
‘You sure do. I’ll give you a clue. My first is in egg but not in bin.’
‘That’s rubbish,’ I say.
‘E,’ he says, ‘My first name begins with E, you idiot!’
‘Of course,’ I call aloud, ‘E. Nigma!’

I win the third round. Now I also have Batman and The Penguin. To keep me company.
‘No, no, no,’ says Batman as I scribble my response to the fourth round’s question 6, ‘The Batmobile goes from nought to sixty faster than that!’ Penguin corrects an answer I have about his film Batman Returns. And Commissioner Gordon commends me on my performance. ‘Just one more round, kid,’ he says in his thick Gotham accent.

I feel less tragic a figure now, with my new-found friends around me. Although I can tell that the other teams are looking over increasingly frequently as I mumble to my teammates. It takes me a while to realise that they think I’m cheating. Maximum of six per team, you see.

So I set The Riddler on another table (he was only useful for the question about himself anyway) and nod an apology toward the rest of the room.

I win the next round (Killer Croc and Nightwing, who are deposited beside The Riddler. They’re not happy but rules are rules!) and it looks like I’m all set to be the Batchampion.

The final round is one question. A single question on its own sheet of paper.
The tension in the bar is palpable as my team and I flip over the paper and stare into face of victory.
‘What was the name of the team which boasted both Batman and Metamorpho as members.’

‘Easy,’ I say as I high-five my comrades.
I grab my pen and smile as I write down ‘The Batdans’.

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David Baillie is a freelance writer and artist. Born almost thirty years ago in Scotland, he now lives and works in the East End of London.

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