Horizon’s not so Trivial Pursuits: The Quest for the Water Bottle 


Kara Wright

Ian proudly displaying the water bottle he fought so hard to win!

Ian McDermott and Kara Wright

The Anonymous Manatees had one goal. 

Our team came to win. 

And we did! 

At first, we felt like fish out of water. We were among the first to arrive at the end-of-semester event – a trivia contest billed as “Battle of the Brains” that was open to all IUS students and hosted by the Sociology Club. The advertised prize of campus food vouchers had hooked Ian’s attention span and stomach:  He’s a Papa John mainstay every Monday and Wednesday at “The Commons,” which won’t shock you if you read about his recent New Jersey trip and his love for pizza.

Despite only 15 minutes until the contest was scheduled to begin, the number of participating students didn’t even break double digits. But that changed. 

We teamed up with four other students-without learning their names- in order to form the Anonymous Manatees. The name was homage to the random sea cow that had appeared on a Google Doc when Ian added Kara to it in order to start writing this column. 

After socializing for a bit, we learned the majors of our fellow teammates: history, political science, neuroscience, and general studies. With these scant introductions established, the trivia night officially began. The categories included sociology, history, psychology, popular culture, and Disney. Questions varied from where Ben and Jerry’s ice cream originated (believe it or not it was Vermont!) to who wrote the Communist Manifesto (Friedrich Engels and Karl Marx). Our team worked well together and combined our individual expertise in a variety of areas in order to dominate the first three rounds against the other two teams until we took a quick pizza break. 

Did you really believe Ian could live without pizza for long?

Throughout the event, they offered door prizes in a raffle between rounds. Ian’s focus immediately shifted from winning trivia night to winning one of the gleaming water bottles offered as one of the door prizes. Of all the various items such as stress balls, IU branded t-shirts and other free merch, the water bottle caught Ian’s attention as another prize that he dearly wanted. Ian’s ticket – number 26 – was constantly passed over time and again for numbers 25 and 27, much to his dismay. Kara didn’t fully understand the allure of this seemingly plain, plastic water bottle, but she did understand and respect that her teammate Ian would stop at nothing to get it. When number 31 was called, Kara offered to give up her free t-shirt but Ian was not swayed. This would not work for him, as he was determined to win the prize himself. And win he would, in more ways than one. 

During the fourth round, a question came up regarding which newspaper reported first on the Watergate scandal (the Washington Post). One of the multiple-choice answers was the Horizon. Ian and Kara instantly found the red herring humorous, but the rest of our teammates, who were first and second-year students, did not get the joke. In fact, once the answer was explained, the rest of the table asked whether IUS even has a student-run newspaper. Our teammates hadn’t heard about the Horizon prior to this event. We gave a quick glance towards one another and stifled a smirk as we hadn’t told our team that we were secretly attending this event for the Horizon. Why did they – or anyone – need to know? 

As the trivia night entered its final round, the last question was about the Belmont Report and what it covered. Although our teammates struggled for an answer, we both knew it and wrote down “Ethics” on the paper before submitting it. After anxiously waiting five agonizing minutes for the judges to announce the results, we learned that Ethics did count as the correct answer. The Anonymous Manatees were able to keep our lead by half a point and win the top prize of Trivia Night! Following the event, Ian was finally able to claim his water bottle after being the last ticket number drawn for a door prize-much to Kara’s relief. In less than a week, Ian redeemed his voucher for a free- you guessed it- bacon pizza at Papa Johns. It tasted even better than his usual Monday pizza! Alas, Kara has lost her $10 voucher and is currently offering a generous reward to anyone who will return it. 

The whole night was a lesson in why winning matters: it is the sweet satisfaction that comes from a job well-done. Ian and Kara went into the event hoping to take home first place in trivia night. However as we continued on, our focus (cough cough especially Ian’s) shifted to securing a water bottle. Yes, folks, you read that right, our goal was purely to get Ian the water bottle he longed for (the reason why remains an unsolved mystery). Sometimes it is the game within the game that makes the event so enjoyable. That was certainly the case for Ian and Kara. Though we came in as anonymous manatees, we left as victorious college students.