An evening in jeopardy

Elise T. Chisolm

October 01, 1991|By Elise T. Chisolm

THEY SAY that television game shows aren't as popular as they used to be, but "Jeopardy!" is still going strong.

I'd rather watch talk shows, which seem to be proliferating like rabbits, because I love to talk and I hate games unless they are out-of-doors and I've got a front seat or am part of the action.

If there is one thing that makes me feel inferior, it is "Jeopardy!" and its answers that have to be put in the form of questions by three contestants who you know have been boning up for weeks on reference books and almanacs.

The same goes for Trivial Pursuit, Pictionary -- any game that requires incidental intelligence when all you really wanted to do was relax, have a beer, put your feet up and tell your spouse how bad your day was.

My husband, meanwhile, has this incredible infatuation with "Jeopardy!"

No matter where we are -- he could be in a catamaran off Haiti or at an Academy Award ceremony sitting next to Michelle Pfeiffer -- he must get home for "Jeopardy!"

If we are at a party, he whispers in my ear around 7:30 -- not ''You look great tonight, dear,'' but ''I'm missing Jeopardy!''

Why are we infatuated with answers we may never have to use in a lifetime?

I mean, there's nothing so obnoxious as a know-it-all, a person at a gathering who knows the capital of every state or knows who invented the apple corer. Right?

Anyway, I am here to tell you the secret of winning at "Jeopardy!" -- at my house, anyway.

Don't memorize anything; learn to guess, go with your intuition.

Take the other night. We had raced home. We were in our usual watching positions: chained to a chair. The final big question was worth big dough.

The question went something like this: The two largest rivers in Idaho that start with S and their names are animals.

What did I care? Would I ever need to cross either of those rivers?

I yelled out, ''What are the Snake and the Salmon rivers?''

He was furious. He got up and jumped up and down. ''How could you know that?'' he screamed.

Guess what?

It was an on-the-spot guess.

I tell him that it is easy. I always think of snakes, because I hate them, and although I thought of squirrel and squid, I figured salmon is more indicative of rivers in Idaho, right?

He was done in by little ole me, and what's more, he is the one who was born in and lived in the West.

It happened again last week.

We were at a party and played Trivial Pursuit. Having been an underachiever at this, too, I was a lackluster participant. Especially intimidating was the presence of a few Ph.D.s, editors, English majors, men who part their hair in the middle and women who wear horn-rimmed glasses and no makeup.

The crucial question was:

''How many seams are there on a football?''

No one knew.

I screamed ''Four!''

That was it. Our team won.

Now ask me how I knew.

I guessed.

Life is full of chances, and I take 'em as they come. I may try to get my own talk show -- at least you don't have to know how many dimples there are on a golf ball.

Since the "Jeopardy!" episode, he does not like for me to watch the show with him, so I am able to get back to my knitting.

How many stitches does the average knitter take in her lifetime?

Who cares?

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