One busted pipe dream

Meg thinks

This is my thinking face. Or my baffled one.

Given my general level of geekery, it probably comes as no surprise that I’m a huge “Jeopardy!” fan.

It’s probably even less surprising when I tell you Spencer and I spend most evenings shouting out answers over plates of parsnips (we’re weird), gasping when promising categories are announced and staring each other down with smug satisfaction when we school each other.

Also, we mentioned “Jeopardy!” in our marriage vows, so.

Through pure happenstance, Spence and I attended a taping of Power Players Week when the quiz show came to Washington, D.C. in 2012. That was almost two years ago, friends, but I still feel all jittery with excitement remembering the sudden on-stage appearance of Alex Trebek. Trebek! In the flesh. A nerd’s dream come true.

And because I’m a show devotee and general knowledge buff, learning “Jeopardy!” would be holding online qualification exams last week meant I had to give it a shot. Who hasn’t fantasized about being on their favorite TV show? (At least mine isn’t, you know, “The Bachelor.”) (Um, anymore.)

Never mind that I’m lucky to know, eh, 60 percent of the answers on any given day . . . and lack knowledge in categories beyond geography, literature, history, pop culture. But if you’re in my wheelhouse, I am unstoppable.

It was worth a shot. As Sheldon Cooper would opine, “What’s life without whimsy?”


I registered to take the 50-question test, wondering if I should be “studying” somehow in advance of it. Barring those stop-sexual-harassment ones at work, it’s been a while since I took an exam. Or, well, seven years, I guess. Seven years since college.

(Now I feel weird. Anyway.)

When my 8 p.m. exam time rolled around last Wednesday, I took care to get myself all set up — and comfortable — early. Laptop charged? Yep. Dinner cooked, eaten and cleaned up? Sure thing. Logged into the “Jeopardy!” website well in advance of all the last-minute Lucys trying to pile on? You got it.

With a final kiss on the cheek and a thumbs-up from Spence, I shoved him rudely from the “dining room” — located conveniently next to every other room in our cozy condo — for complete quiet.

And then it was time.

My fingers were trembling. I actually broke out in a sweat. Though my life would continue as normal regardless of how I did on this test, I suddenly felt like I’d tiptoed to the edge of a precipice . . . and I was staring down at an angry sea.

The angry sea was my mind. The one that wouldn’t function.

Like one horribly embarrassing audition back in my high school theatre days, seeing the first of 50 questions pop up caused my brain to be wiped clean. Reading? What’s that? I suddenly knew nothing. To add insult to injury, I had 15 seconds to answer each prompt before automatically being moved to the next one — and that happened. A lot.

My hands also decided they were done connecting to my brain, apparently, making things like typing a little hard.

I bombed.

Well, it might not have bombed; I actually don’t know how I did, given my results will never be sent to me. But let’s just say I wasn’t overly confident in the questions I could answer, and completely empty-headed on the ones I couldn’t. I do remember one had something to do with Under the Dome and its author, one Stephen King. I got that one.

If I’m meant to advance, a member of the “Jeopardy!” staff will apparently contact me . . . within the next year.

I’ll take Pipe Dreams That Have Ruptured for $2,000, Alex.

21 thoughts on “One busted pipe dream

  1. Well, don’t feel bad. I’ve never been good at being “tested”. You don’t even want to know my SAT scores. There is always a next time!


  2. It’s funny – I have been pushing my dad really hard to do “the test” for Jeopardy for the past 6 months. I know he would be good at it!
    Dang it.

    Maybe next time?


  3. It’s not you, it’s them. I’ve taken the online test myself twice before and I’ve always found it so much harder than the show. My theory is that the producers make it deliberately harder to narrow down the field. And the 15 seconds thing is supposed to resemble the buzzers. Half of playing Jeopardy is being able to “ring” in at the exact right moment. (If you saw the special where Watson the computer from IBM played, this was proven true. The computer was able to ring in faster than the two human players b/c it wasn’t bogged down by human reflexes.)


  4. Thanks for the fun post.

    Small world . . . I actually tried out for Jeopardy! a couple of times. Both times I made it past the screening test and went into New York City for a live try-out. It was really fun. You did some actual game-playing against other contenders (complete with buzzers and live questions). Had a short chat with the producers/screeners, talked a bit about yourself, and then went home and waited for the fateful call (or email, not sure how they conduct that part of things). And . . . nothing.

    Oh well. The second time I was really surprised I didn’t get a call because I thought I had killed it. Nailed most of the questions, did pretty well in the mock games, and was funny and charming in the speaking with the producers. I think it might have been because of bad buzzer technique — I did ring in early a couple of times and that might have done me in. Too much adrenaline, I guess.


  5. My hubs keeps trying too. We LOVE Jeopardy in this house. Even Baby Whimsy likes it. It’s hysterical. Better luck next time. Never stop trying.


  6. My husband is a Jeopardy fanatic! Although he always shots out various answers and still expects credit if he gets it right the second, third or fourth time! Jeopardy doesn’t work that way! We actually own the Wii Jeopardy game and play that a lot too.
    I’ve heard the online test is super-hard, so you never know! You may get a surprising phone call one day! Keep the dream alive!


    • Cooked parsnips, Patty! Haha. We like having parsnips with dinner. They’re my new favorite vegetable, so I always save them for last . . . leaving me with an entire plate of those tasty guys. 🙂


    • A plate for each of us! 🙂 We’re big into parsnips these days. I go through vegetable fads . . . it’s kind of strange. Lately it’s been Brussels sprouts and parsnips all the time.


  7. I did the online test and had the same experience! I remember Hawthorne being one of the answers and I was happy to get that right. And “mullet” was an answer, LOL!


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