I have spent hours and hours of my life sitting in front of the television set, shouting random trivia in question form. Yes. I am a "Jeopardy" junkie. It looks so easy at home. I usually know almost all of the questions in the first round. Double Jeopardy, not so much -- but even a blind hog finds an acorn from time to time -- and Final Jeopardy is a crap shoot. And I know that I am more interesting than 78 percent of the contestants that actually make it onto the show.
A few years ago -- during the reign of Jeopardy Champion Extraordinaire, Ken Jennings, I actually flew all the way to Los Angeles to try out for the show. It was a disaster. The game is a lot harder in the studio than it is at home.
About 300 of us gathered at a hotel near Studio City -- wherever that is -- and took a paper and pencil trivia test. That apparently went well because I was one of a handful of folks chosen to be interviewed and play a practice game. I guess the interview went well enough, but during the practice game -- I choked. There's no other way to put it.
I sat and stared at the screen as the first few clues were revealed. That's all I did. I just sat there. Finally, the pretty young thing that was acting as the host -- Alex Trebek must have been on vacation that day -- reminded me that I hadn't participated.
I blurted out the very next answer -- which earned me a reprimand for not buzzing in first. So I buzzed in on the next question and then blurted out the answer. I forgot to put it in the form of a question. The next time I buzzed in I didn't know the answer.
They gave me a Jeopardy coffee mug for trying out and said, basically, don't call us -- we'll call you. But they never did.
The trip to LA wasn't a total loss, however. I got to walk on the beach at Malibu with Mary Jane Odum -- thus fulfilling another lifetime dream.
But I am a stubborn sort and have never been one to give up easily. If at first you don't succeed, try, try again and all of that. Wednesday night I accepted the challenge and tried out for "Jeopardy" yet again. No, I haven't been to the west coast. They let you do it online these days, which means that instead of having to dress up and wear a tie and my Sunday shoes, like I did in LA, I could try out for "Jeopardy" in my lucky Georgia Bulldog boxers and Hog's Breath saloon T-shirt -- which might be too much information. Good luck getting that image out of your mind.
The test started at 9 p.m., but I had to sit and stare at a picture of Alex Trebek for 16 minutes to make sure I was logged on. I had rather been staring at a picture of the cute girl in LA that had to remind me to take part in the game.
The online test was tough! They threw question after question at you -- 50 in all -- and you had 15 seconds to read the question, digest the information and type in your answer. Thankfully the answers didn't have to be in the form of a question and spelling didn't count.
Spelling should never count. I agree with Thomas Jefferson. "I have nothing but contempt for a man who can only think of one good way to spell a word."
There were no questions about Thomas Jefferson, by the way. There was one about Andrew Jackson, however and one about Bill Clinton. I am confident I got both those right. I also got the ones right about U.S. geography, because I've seen about all of it there is to see. I knew, for instance, that Ft. Sumter National Monument is in Charleston Harbor and that the Colorado River is near Yuma, Ariz. I also knew that Roger Williams gave Providence, R.I., its name.
There were lots of other questions I didn't know, however. Don't even think about asking me a question about opera -- which they did, or scientific equations. There were some questions I knew but didn't get typed into the space in time. All in all, I am certain I did better with the pencil and paper version of the test and -- just like before -- I won't hold my breath until they call me to be a contestant on the show.
Big sigh here.
But at least I can look on the bright side. This time I didn't spend several hundred dollars on a flight to LAX. When my humiliation was over I just tootled off to the bedroom to try to get some sleep. Of course I didn't get to walk on the beach with Mary Jane Odum either. Everything's a trade-off in life.
Darrell Huckaby is a local educator and author. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. For past columns, visit www.rockdalecitizen.com or www.newtoncitizen.com.