Thursday, November 07, 2013

So this happened...

For a serious Jeopardy geek like me, that's a big deal.  In my family? We're not just game players, we're game show players - always have been. (Not all of us - half of my sisters, for example, roll their eyes when I turn it on, used to say "I don't need to watch school stuff after school." But that's OK. I still love them.)  But for those of us who are game show players? Jeopardy is it.

I started watching Jeopardy at my grandparents house sometime before I was 8 years old: I only know that because the first time I beat my Grandfather at a game, I was eight, and by then we'd been watching for years. Every night we were at their house, at 7:30 (except for the unfortunate years that the local channel decided to switch up the routine and but it on at 7:00, before Wheel of Fortune, which - if my Grandmother was any judge - was tantamount to trying to put the New Testament before the Old), everybody who wasn't currently doing the dishes or putting a baby to sleep would congregate in my grandparents living room and watch the show. Over the course of the last twenty-however-many or so years, that specific combination of people has included - at various different and/or overlapping points:

My brother and I - fresh from baths, tucked into our pajamas and with backs eager for scratching - sitting at my grandmother's feet; my Uncle Mark,  who had Down Syndrome, sitting in his rocking chair, thumping along to the music and waiting for the end of the show when someone would tell him it was time to get ready for bed, at which point he'd stand in the doorway and say "Good. Night. Mum. Good. Night. Jack." and so on, until each of us had been properly bid farewell; any number of my other uncles, usually found stretched across the floor, one pillow propped underneath their head, quiet enough so that you'd think they weren't paying attention, until the game started and the answers questions would pop lazily out of their mouths; my grandfather, always at his end of the couch, tucked into his corner, probably also listening to either the ballgame or classical music, and most likely working on an embroidery project or crossword puzzle at the same time - he was another one you didn't think would be much competition - with all that noise, how could anybody concentrate? - but he beat me 4 nights out of 5; various cousins on various holidays or school trips or summer vacations, nights when we'd file in from the front porch only long enough to watch the game, laugh about the sports questions I missed or the ballet questions my cousin and I had smoked everyone else on, and then file back out to sit with the mosquitoes until it was time for bed; and, of course, my grandmother - especially during those later years when I would stay with her and it would be just she and I, it seemed Jeopardy, Judge Judy, & NCIS were the only shows that she could tolerate - and both Judy and Gibbs were questionable.

I can think of a million different configurations of my Grandmother's living room, and a million different Jeopardy games we watched from any of them. We watched in the summer, with the windows open and the screens down, so that you could still hear kids playing outside on the street, or all bundled up under blankets or hovering over her heating vents in the winter.  We were watching one Friday night when the house across the street burned down - although, to be fair, we did also, you know, pay attention to the fire. We watched last September, after we lost her, when that room was as cold as I've ever felt it, and that house was as empty as is has ever been - I sat with my sister and my aunts, none of us really paying much attention, but it was enough to have it on, enough that every now and then, we were distracted enough to give an answer.  I've watched with my uncle since then, in the new quiet, the new normal of the house, at least Jeopardy, and a cup of tea and a couple of cookies seems familiar.  I watched by myself, there and here, in tears, more than once, thinking about her and how something so ridiculous as a game of answers and questions can bring her back to me so clearly, how I can almost hear her still sighing over the loss of Alex's mustache, or some 'doofus's' incorrect response.

And it wasn't just there - I played Jeopardy with my mom and my other grandmother the summer I was in the hospital, and then bed bound - we'd keep score and add our tallies, spent the whole summer trying to beat each other, and I have no idea who actually one, but I know my Nana - one of the smartest people I knew - was a horrible wagerer and came in last.  I played with the girls in my dorm at college, my roommate and I would watch while we gobbled down Chinese food or macaroni and cheese from the hot pot in between our day classes and our night classes. And now I have to schedule my phone calls with my 13-yr-old nephew so as not to run over into Jeopardy time, because he plays with the boy down the street (although he plays with an ap somehow? and that makes me feel very old).

Anyways. I can you could see that this would be important to me.  And - of course - because I used my blog twitter instead of my personal twitter, I can't tell my family about it... but I figured you guys would understand.  I mean if you can't talk about being a total quiz show nerd on the Internet, where can you talk about it?

By the way; the poem that they quoted? My Grandmother's favorite (and not coincidentally one of the last things she remembered almost to the very end)?  From the category Lit-Tree-Ture : This self-described "fool" wrote, "a tree that looks at God all day / and lifts her leafy arms to pray".  The contestant answered incorrectly.  Here's the correct answer, and the complete poem:

119. Trees
I THINK that I shall never see 
A poem lovely as a tree. 
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest 
Against the sweet earth's flowing breast; 
A tree that looks at God all day,         5
And lifts her leafy arms to pray; 
A tree that may in summer wear 
A nest of robins in her hair; 
Upon whose bosom snow has lain; 
Who intimately lives with rain.  10
Poems are made by fools like me, 
But only God can make a tree. 
                                                                                        Joyce Kilmer. 1886–1918

1 comment:

Jennie said...

I'm getting caught up on my blog reading because of NaNo fatigue and I'm so glad I read this tonight, because I've been missing my grandma lately and this hit all the right spots. I love it!