In early 1985 I had a few months where I was laid-off from work and I spent the time haunting the house, doing laundry and walking Picket Duty when the opportunity came up. The Lioness was away at work and our son, the Determined One, spent the day in high school. I fell into an afternoon ritual of turning the TV set on and going about my household chores while game shows provided background noise. My favorite afternoon program to listen to was Jeopardy.
I have accumulated a vast sea of knowledge that is three-fingers deep and this show dropped facts into that very Ocean of Useless Information. It didn’t take long to get hooked on the show, which worked out well because The Lioness loved to listen to it on a small TV in the kitchen while she prepared dinner.
After a few weeks of listening to the show twice a day, a lot of the answers seemed repetitive, as if I heard them recently. I It took awhile, but one day I realized that the Jeopardy show that she was watching in the early evening was the same one that I watched hours before.
An Idea Takes Shape
The Jeopardy show that I watched in the early afternoon was on a cable channel out of Sacramento. Apparently they were broadcasting the East Coast feed of the show, which was 3 hours ahead of our local San Francisco station’s broadcast. Now I began to pay attention to the show and the answers to the questions.
I was subtle at first, at least for me. I took a new interest in helping with the food preparation and as we worked in the kitchen and listened to the TV I would occasionally “drop” the right answers to a question. The Lioness was impressed that I could answer so fast at times. I had to slow down my response time, let her beat me to the punch and then support her correct answer. She did alright for someone without the clairvoyance that I had acquired.
Over time I found myself living life as a character in the movie, The Sting. I had to learn to temper my responses, get one wrong now and then—even though I knew better. Final Jeopardy was always the toughest for me. Should I answer correctly, or should I blow the answer and come back stronger the next time?
I eventually went back to work and started missing the early broadcasts. Now I was without my life saver, my early show. I had to rely on myself and that wasn’t fair, I was on a roll.
Enter the VCR
I started recording the early show and watching the tape between the time that I got home and when The Lioness returned from work. I was secure in my new-found knowledge and a budding savant in my wife’s eyes. Night after night my percentage of correct answers slowly climbed. The challenge for me was to memorize the entire show and be able to nonchalantly drop the right answers as if they were after-thoughts.
Soon my pride took over and it was a struggle not say the correct answers for all of the questions, and that was when my guilty conscience took over. It was one thing to be a goof and be correct now and then, but after four months of slowly crafting the facade of being such a smart guy I felt like a complete hypocrite.
One night I ‘fessed up and came clean to The Lioness. I told her how I knew so many right answers on Jeopardy. To her credit, she forgave me for this seemingly harmless act, but 30 years later there are still occasional ripples in her memory bank when I pull some trivial fact out of my cobwebbed mind. Her doubt usually goes unsaid, but it is conveyed, none-the-less, by an arched eyebrow, a squint in one eye, or a twitch in the corner of her mouth.
These days I get a lot more satisfaction by knowing the answers on my own and that keeps me from taking the easy way out.
Enjoy this musical interlude from another Weird Al.
6/7/19 Update: A look at a real winner on Jeopardy
Note: Featured image courtesy of Google Images.