Jeopardy!

Of all the things I’ve accomplished in my life, the one and only thing that anyone will care about is that I was on Jeopardy![1].

In my office, I have framed diplomas from prestigious universities, plaques proclaiming professional accomplishments, certificates certifying awards and accomplishments, and pictures of my actual greatest achievements of all – my children.  Generally speaking, these things are ignored.  Buried behind a baby picture of my daughter smelling a rose and a baby picture of my son giggling a gummy smile is a picture of me, almost twenty years ago now, grinning like an idiot next to an indulgent Alex Trebek, housed in an official glass Jeopardy! frame. 

People ignore everything on display in my office except the picture of me and Alex.  Despite being half-hidden, it must have some kind of beacon that calls to folks.  It gives me a certain cachet.  I didn’t squander my 15 (30?) minutes of fame on being the idiot who had mustard all over her shirt on the Jumbotron at the ball game or fell down an escalator on a TikTok video. 

The episode was aired January 2, 2003 and filmed in October of 2002.  Between October and January, I was sworn to secrecy and couldn’t tell anyone whether or not I’d won. 

Spoiler alert: I didn’t.  I came in second.  I was ahead for most of the game, but a double jeopardy near the end and the final jeopardy killed me.  Tell you this much, I will never forget who Edith Head was again.[2]   

It was on so long ago that digital anything wasn’t really a thing.  I have a copy of the episode somewhere in my house on a VCR tape that also has some episodes of the Simpsons on it.  I can’t watch it because I don’t have a VCR player.  I suppose if I were sufficiently motivated I could get it transferred to a digital file, but I guess I’m not or I would have.  It was in the days before cell phone cameras were a thing, so I don’t even have many (any?) pictures of what happened beyond my official souvenir photo provided to me by the good folks at Sony Pictures Studios. 

I will tell you this: I am sad that Alex Trebek passed away.  I gather that most people are on some level.  That is what is miraculous about Alex Trebek.  I can tell you from personal experience that he was not the most charming guy in the world.  He seemed rather socially awkward, if you must know the truth.  As soon as the cameras stopped rolling, he skittered off stage as if he had no idea how to talk to anyone if it weren’t part of the show.  But he was solid, reliable, and no-nonsense.  He cared about right and wrong.  He never made fun of anyone, even when their answers were silly.  Facts were facts.  In an era where willful ignorance seems to guarantee popularity, he made knowing stuff seem cool. 

No one doesn’t like Alex Trebek.  In this, 2020, name one other thing that no one doesn’t like.  I dare you.  See?  You can’t do it.  Not a person, not a food, not a place.  Maybe Mr. Rogers, but he’s been gone so long I’m gonna declare he doesn’t count.  Maybe Tom Hanks?  Okay, maybe Tom Hanks, but still, that’s only two people on an Earth full of billions[3].

The point, if I have one, is this: the shine of the world is a little dimmer because Alex Trebek isn’t in it anymore.  I am grateful to have met you, however briefly.  I know for a fact you’re in a good place, and I hope that means all the answers are correct and in the form of a question. 


[1] The exclamation point here is attached to the name Jeopardy!. It does not end the sentence.  You have not spelled the name of the game show correctly without the exclamation point.  This is a point (ha!) of trivia that only Jeopardy! nerds get all persnickety about.

[2] You can see all the questions, who answered them, and some pretty turbo-nerd statistical analysis of the game by clicking here: http://www.j-archive.com/showgame.php?game_id=2901

[3] I actually did research for this joke and I googled “Who doesn’t like Tom Hanks?”  I came up with one list from 2013 of the world’s most trusted people.  Number one?  Tom Hanks.  Also in the top ten?  Alex Trebek.  Another joke article from many years ago made up reasons to dislike Tom Hanks, which also referenced Alex Trebek and, presciently, Donald Trump, joking that Hanks and Trump were actually the same person.  Yet another article claimed to state that there was, in fact, a human who doesn’t like Tom Hanks: Henry Winkler, the Fonz himself.  Turns out that Winkler was originally directing Turner and Hooch and was quoted later as saying that he “got along much better with Hooch than Turner.”   

If you enjoyed this and want to read more like it, visit Lori at her website, www.loriduffwrites.com, on Twitter, or on Facebook.   Her newest book, a Foreword INDIES Gold Medal award winner, “If You Did What I Asked In The First Place” is currently available by clicking here.

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