I missed the memo about luck, skill, and porn star lip gloss.
If there was ever a day I should have played the lottery, it was back in November of 2004. On one crazy afternoon, I scored a spot as a contestant on Jeopardy! and then a couple of hours later, I learned that I had passed the California Bar Exam. Winning the lottery would have been a nice little hat trick.
My first stroke of luck was being
chosen at random invited to audition for the show. I got dressed up in my best suit and headed on down to Sony Studios where about 100 of us were ushered onto the actual Jeopardy! set, which was Nerd Nirvana. The producers gave us a little pep talk and quickly disabused us of any notion that we’d actually be meeting Alex Trebek that day.
Next, came the pencil and paper test which featured Jeopardy! style answers and questions. There ain’t no two ways about, folks, this test was hard. Luck was not enough, but I had paid my dues as a quiz bowl geek in high school and college, so I did actually think the test was kind of fun. Then the tests were collected and we hopefuls sat and fidgeted with our souvenir Jeopardy! pens and waited to hear who had made the cut. Mine was one of two names called (I told you the test was hard!) and when I heard my name, it was like I had been coronated Queen of the Geeks. I was, how you say…stoked.
My fellow test-passer and I were then asked to do a quick screen test which consisted of overly enthusiastic small talk and wrangling of signaling devices. The producers thanked us both for coming and congratulated us for making it into the contestant pool, but that didn’t mean I was assured a spot on the show. As we were sent on our way, the producers asked if we had any questions, and luckily, I had to pee, so I asked,”Where’s the bathroom?” (Classy, n’est ce pas?)
When I emerged from the facilities, one of the producers intercepted me and told me that they’d had a last-minute opening in the taping schedule and asked if I could come back in a few weeks to tape my appearance on the show. I skipped off the lot, thanking my nervous bladder for affording me the chance to win a gazillion dollars.
I came back a few weeks later and it was as glamorous as I’d hoped. A Green Room full of bagels, Alex Trebek in the flesh, and best of all, gobs and gobs of make-up skillfully applied by a professional make-up artist.
When the make-up artist was done with me, I think I was wearing all the hot pink lip gloss then available in the state of California. I like wearing make-up, but usually try to use a light hand, so I was a little taken aback by this look. But under the bright studio lights, it looked fantastic. Later, in the regular light of day, it looked like I had been eating a pork chop without a knife and fork.
Despite my fabulous lip gloss, I’m sad to report that I got my clock cleaned by a 23-year-old graduate student. I was around for Final Jeopardy and even bet it all, like a boss, but alas, my dreams of extinguishing my student loan debt with a few clicks of a buzzer came to an uncermonious end. It was an absolute blast, though, and I wouldn’t mind a rematch…
Sometimes it’s about luck. Sometimes it’s about skill. And sometimes it’s about having to a take a fortuitous pee. Memo received.