When the category headers are revealed and you're watching at home, you might look a little askance at one or two and wonder what on earth that might mean, but generally you just accept them. When they're revealed for your all-important game, your brain is racing and you're wondering things like: Seriously, what does that one mean? What do I know about that topic? What the heck is that? But before you know it, the champ is selecting the first clue and there's not much more time to think from that point forward.
...Because before you know it, you're getting the first question of the entire game wrong.
You know, if you'd asked me before I did this, "what would be the absolute worst thing that could happen on the show?" Well okay, "getting the very first question wrong" isn't what I would have said. I would have said, "answering with something like 'a threesome,' resulting in having Alex make fun of me and becoming YouTube famous." I told myself that if I could avoid that, I'd consider the experience a success. (High standards, I've got 'em.)
It's funny about that clue though - watching it on tv it looked very strange. Alex says "yes," and then I make a face and Julie rings in and gets it. Alex didn't correct himself out loud, but right as he was saying "yes," the judges were yelling "NONONONONO!" and that's why I made a face. I knew as soon as I heard them that I'd added a stupid 's' onto their name. Oh well.
I was doing okay as we went into the first commercial break. As I've mentioned before, at the break, the makeup artist comes over and touches up your face, and the coordinators come over and talk to you. You also get offered a little bottle of water if you want a drink. I did, so I opened it up, took a drink ... and promptly dribbled it down the front of my shirt. I had to explain that this wasn't nerves - I do stuff like this at home all the time. I was freaking out that there was going to be a big dark spot on my shirt when we came back from commercial, but the coordinator said, "oh honey, it'll dry, you'll see." And then she spent the entire commercial break standing and pressing a paper towel against my chest. All while saying "it's fine, I'm just going to stand here and press on your breast!"
I hated that Discount Tent category. It wasn't that hard, it was just random. We didn't get to the Daily Double in the Jeopardy round, which none of us had realized until the coordinator mentioned it during the commercial. I think I went to Shakespeare because it seemed like the most likely place for it, and I felt okay about the category. But even so, by the time the round ended, I remember all of us just looking at each other in a daze when he said we'd missed the Daily Double.
Things were good when the Double Jeopardy round started, and I felt like I did all right, although Joel running that Roman roads category didn't help me any. I knew the first few, but Joel was too fast. I was momentarily glad he got the Daily Double because I wouldn't have come up with "milestones" with a million years. Of course, it was only momentary relief since I found the Daily Double just a minute later in Opera Characters. This is not what I would consider a strong category for me, but time was running out and like I said before, I had decided before walking out on the stage that I'd play to win. In this case, I didn't have the confidence level in the category to wager enough to try to take the lead, but I picked something in the middle that hopefully wouldn't sink me even if I got it wrong. Which I did, because I had never heard of that character in my life.
Just like in yesterday's game, a wrong Daily Double by a challenger ended the Double Jeopardy round. Time for the Final, and I was in an awkward 2nd place position.
Quick note about wagering - as I said in a previous post, I practiced my wagering. However, I practiced it like this:
|Normal pen, notebook paper|
|Half a sheet of paper and a Sharpie (which was considerably |
duller than this one)
It was all irrelevant though when I saw the Final Jeopardy clue. I read the clue and tried to think of it in every way possible, since I didn't know it right away. Balkan? That wasn't going anywhere. Invented the 20th century? Twentieth century inventions didn't really take me anywhere that sounded Balkan. Back to thinking about Balkan countries and ... nothing. If I'd been able to come up with anything at all, I'd have written it down, but I don't know that my mind has ever been blanker than it was in those 30 seconds.
And then it was all over, and Joel had now gone through 7 of his 11 possible competitors. Julie and I signed our paperwork and got our stuff from the green room, and were ushered to seats in the audience. The people in front of us told me I'd done great and some other nice things. I was still basically in a fog. Then in a blur, Friday's show was starting, with Joel now a 4-time champion.
Tomorrow I'll talk about Friday's game as well as giving a post-mortem on the experience, including why I wrote all of these posts when I knew it ended like this. I hope you'll come back to read it.