in the beginning, i never wanted to be on jeopardy. i know, that sounds really disingenuous. but it’s true. i mean, i was a huge fan of the show — i’d been watching it ever since i would toddle home from preschool and watch the stellar art fleming read the answers. (i know, i know. i was a very strange preschooler. but it was better than watching dark shadows, which was also on in the afternoon and which scared the bejeebers out of me.)
maybe i was destined to be on the show. my mom tells me that she was selected to be on the show in the early 1960s. but, as my hero junie b would say, too bad for her. she was preggers with my middle brother larry, and she really couldn’t risk going into labor on national television. (just proving my childhood contention: larry always does ruin everything. first jeopardy. then, we had to get rid of the cat because of his asthma. buzzkill!! hehehehe, seriously, just kidding there, lar. really. i love you even if you’re politically on the wrong side of many issues.) so maybe subconsciously, i was doing this for my mother.
the truth is, newlywed me was homesick. i missed my family, i missed new jersey (okay, you can stop laughing now) (really), and i did not yet consider the DC metro area home just yet. (that wouldn’t happen until last year. maybe.) but i also knew my BS was not really interested in schlepping up I-95 for yet another weekend of family fun.
but then, the epiphany: they were holding a massive cattle call at merv griffin’s old casino in atlantic city at the same time as easter AND passover. BINGO! BS was a jeopardy fan — couldn’t we go, try out, and then drive up the coast to see our respective families? of course we could. so we drove up, took the ten question test, passed it, received the date to return for a longer test, and went on our merry way to visit our families.
only, too bad for BS. he had to go on travel on the return date. so he never got to try out further. now me, on the other hand, i did. and, weirdly enough, i was able to try out at the same time as my dad, who also passed the 10 question test. so augie doggie and doggie daddy drove off to AC together, swearing they would pretend not to know each other so that no one would ever think we were cheating. which we didn’t. and couldn’t. we stayed far away from each other as we entered the big testing hall and took the test.
both of us passed.
they then made us go elsewhere so that they could observe our personalities and how quickly we could think on our feet. as we waited in the hall, we still did not speak to each other (i’m neurotic). that was, until, i tried to make small talk with one of the other potential contestants.
me: hi, i’m wreke. and you are?
personality-deficient freak: did you know that burma is now called myanmar?
after a few of these perverse little exchanges, i walked over to my dad, thrust out my hand, and introduced myself. daddy, i said sotto voce, these people are scaring me. can you please just stand near me and pretend we are making small talk? and because my dad is the best dad on the whole entire planet, we pretended to meet for the first time until they called us into the room.
we had to stand up and play a pretend game of jeopardy. we had to talk about what we’d do with the money if we won. (i believe i told them i’d send BS to phillies camp. still waiting, right honey?) and then we had our pictures taken and were told that we’d be called within the year if they wanted us on the show.
the end. or so i thought. see, a year passed, and i didn’t hear from them. not until one day, when a woman with whom i had worked the year before came running down the hallway. hey, she said, out of breath, you’d better call geraldine and find out what the hell is going on. i overheard her talking to someone about you and jeopardy and i heard her tell them you didn’t work here anymore.
geraldine was the very sweet but not exceptionally bright receptionist in my old office. i had moved to a different office during the year; but unfortunately, jeopardy still had my old number. i booked up the stairs to geraldine. gerry, i said, panting, did someone call for me?
oh yes, she answered in her drawl. i told them you don’t work here any more, but i took their number. she handed the scrap to me. i found a payphone (government building; can’t call on your taxpayer’s dime, you know), called back, and they told me to show up the end of august. bring 5 changes of clothing. and it’s all on my dime.
honey, i screamed to BS on the phone later. guess where we’re vacationing this year? hollywood!
the next day, that romantic guy bought me a world almanac.