His trivial pursuits add up to a great hobby Lee Salawitch: The 33-year-old travel agent has watched a lot of TV to prepare for the Midwest Trivia Contest.


January 28, 1996|By Rob Hiaasen

"People," says Lee Salawitch, "are going to read this and think I have no life at all."

You do have a life, Lee Salawitch. You are a 33-year-old Baltimore travel agent -- and you seem like a nice guy. Just because your hobby is watching many hours of television to ingest many bits of trivia so you can kick trivia tail today at the Midwest Trivia Contest is nothing to be shy about.

Since 1982, he has represented Baltimore with distinction in this annual contest, which attracts hundreds of minutiae men and women for a 50-hour trivia marathon. There are 30 trivialists to a team and 12 teams, and each team gets 400 questions and each team drinks many, many cups of coffee.

This weekend, Lee is in some Wisconsin town called Appleton. He's wearing his Orioles cap and is back with his posse. On his team, three members were assigned to watch about every TV show. Mr. Salawitch got the sitcoms. By the way, the coffeehouse on TV's "Friends" is called Central Perc, and the coffeehouse on "Frasier" is Cafe Nervosa. Mr. Salawitch knows all of this, of course, but the man isn't positive whether it's east or west off Northern Parkway to get to his house.

But that isn't important. What's important is that Mr. Salawitch -- who also passed the "Jeopardy!" qualifying test in 1993 -- knows the name of the song Phoebe taught Chrissie Hynde to sing on "Friends" this year. The song was "Smelly Cat." And the answer could help his team win for the fifth straight year.

One year, the winning team was awarded a bed pan.

Just some contest trivia for you.

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