An answer does not a response make. Jeopardy! taught me that. Along with how moustaches make the man, and most facts about American presidents.
There’s nothing that pleases me more than watching a Jeopardy!, then watching it later with other people to show them how smart I am.
And their Teen Tournament is the only time I can get away with berating kids for knowing less than I do.
I’d love to be a contestant on the show. Mainly because that’s my brother’s ultimate dream, and pilfering that from him would be pretty funny.
Based on my couchability, I think I’d do alright if I ever made it to the big game. As long as I avoided a Ken Jennings or that blind guy from back in the day, I could get a decent little string of wins together. It’s all in the buzzer, and I’ve had some serious practice with buzzers and beating them.
The announcer Johnny, he always calls Alex “Tree-beck”. Which makes me wonder if maybe that’s how you pronounce it. When the camera is pointed at my face and Johnny introduces me on the first day, I’m going to mouth what he’s saying in a lively lip sync. “A newspaper man from the Mundiest of Ponds in S’n John’s, Newfoundlind – Ian Smith!” That could be a nice mind trick for the folks at home.
As we all know, Jeopardy is almost ruined by what follows the first commercial break, halfway through Single Jeopardy. The stories boring people are forced to tell to make them appear relatable. Things that just happen to other people, without repetition or fanfare, are somehow stories for them, the ones that arise as milestones in their lives. My favourite one is Sarah from Pittsburgh who told an interesting anecdote about how her shower curtain contained a world map. And she wasn’t even a returning champion. Now I haven’t done a whole lot in my life, but I too used to have a shower curtain with a map of the world on it, and I’d use it to familiarize myself with the size of the Soviet Bloc and rudeness of The Gambia while sitting on the toilet. I don’t know how many consecutive times I’d have to win Jeopardy before I’d think to resort to mentioning that to the audience, but it would be a lot. Here are some of the stories that would appear before that great one about the shower curtain.
Appearance #1: I know I’m going to win this game, and not only because I’m up against two buffoons, so I don’t break out my best story yet. I still need it to make me memorable either way, maybe to attract more viewers for my next episode. It is Sweeps Week, after all. So even though it’s not my best story, I’d have to go with the one about the time I ate only Nibs for 127 straight hours. It would make the people who lose to me feel even stupider too.
#2: I don’t have a stomach. I had it removed at the same time as a tumour in my gut. During surgery, someone pricked a hole in my gall bladder, so they took that from me too, after its leaky contents caused me to hallucinate for a very long time. And I was so afraid going into that second surgery that a new doctor came in and extracted my amygdala as well, so I wouldn’t be scared of anything anymore, which I’m not, unless you count dogs with bees in their mouths but no matter what your amygdala status those bees will end up scaring you.
#3: I won a trip to Barcelona to play in the European Poker Tour, an event whose buy-in was $5000€, when my net worth was hovering around $200. My final hand was a Jack and a 10. I met Pau Gasol at my hotel, and he was, and likely still is, very tall but without looking like a freak or anything. After my defeat, I drank absinthe and walked down to the beach, where I wrote a Red Hot Chili Peppers song.
#4: I officiated a wedding for my friends because that stemmed from us joking about me being the Skipper in their Gilligan’s Island-themed wedding. I’d also performed a similar ceremony on a boat for two of our other friends who only found out they were getting married that morning.
#5: I once travelled around the States by myself for a month or so. In Las Vegas I couch surfed with these two girls who lived their lives based on the day’s horoscopes. We were all making a meal together, and my only duty was being in charge of cutting up the garlic. Up to that point, shamefully, I’d never cooked with garlic before, and I never really considered how much was actually necessary to make the food taste appropriately garlicky. So I peeled – not cut up but just peeled – about 14 cloves of garlic and stuffed it into the blender containing the other ingredients. It obviously ruined the meal, and made the rest of my stay there slightly awkward.
#6: I sent a unique birthday message to a different celebrity every day in 2019, most of which had nothing to do with the person. Chantal Kreviazuk is the only one who really appreciated it. I have an unfounded theory that the project itself might be a murderer through the iSmith Birthdeath Effect.
#7: After the FBI stole all of my online poker money, I was forced to look to the real world for that sweet cash. Still not fully understanding how anything worked, I got a series of jobs for a couple of weeks each so I could write a Joblog and maybe it would help me start my own business. I became a loss prevention officer, a dishwasher, a courier, a flagman and a temporary assistant videographer on the most watched show in the country. The whole thing made me want to go back to school, so I did.
#8: A few years ago, I travelled around Europe with two of my friends. I have no memory of booking the tickets and had to be reminded about the trip a week before we left by an incredulous friend, who still contends that I was heavily involved in the planning. (turn to camera) Hi Bosh! While in Ireland I climbed a tree and couldn’t get down, so I stayed up there for eight hours until we finally let a public servant come save me.
#9: I used to have auditory hallucinations and for a while thought that everyone did. During the most vivid one, I was lying on the couch and overheard two of my buddies, who definitely weren’t in my house, behind the couch shooting the shit. I didn’t move for like an hour because it was so cool listening to two figments having a chat.
#10¹: I once lived in a park for a week to protest something, but I forgot what the thing was so I went and got some pizza instead. The pizza had ham and pineapple on it, but the server was adamant it was not a Hawaiian, so I continue to be mesmerized by that contention.
#15²: After going for a run one time, I got very thirsty and grabbed what looked like an apple cider form the fridge. Only after chugging the whole thing did I realize it was actually rendered chicken fat.
#20: I wrote and recorded an album by myself over the course of one month, even though I can barely play guitar and can’t sing. It was probably the most productive month of my life, which happened to coincide with a refrain from alcohol. The songs are terrible and I love them. Then I did this a few more times.
#25: I’d have to tell them about writing this actual piece you’re currently reading, about the stories I’d tell if ever I was to be a contestant, but without revealing the real reason I wrote it.
#30: This would be the first one where I tell the producer I wanted Alex to cue me up for one story, but I act like he’s off his rocker before launching into a completely different story.
#35³: As a child, I once tried to steal some ice cream from a convenience store. I got caught by this woman because I had to ask her to open the door for me since it swung inwards and I had two huge tubs of ice cream up the sleeves of my sweater, so I couldn’t get my hands out. I was so shook up that I ran home and put on Phantom of the Opera CDs, singing along to the songs to calm me nerves. My sister’s friends caught me in one of my more inspired moments, during a Music of the Night crescendo, and I never sang publicly again.
#40: I’d call Alex out for talking about his moustache, or lack of moustache, so much. I’d also tell him he’s real awkward with the guests and needs to step it up.
#45: I followed my girlfriend to Thailand, where we sat on elephants and slept under roof monkeys and ate daily pad thais and got low-baht massages and crashed a motorbike into a tree and almost a kid. Then I followed her to Vancouver after driving across the continent in a duct-taped Kia Spectra, which disintegrated just as we drove up to our new house. Then I followed her to the grocery store, because I wanted to make sure we got the right hasbrowns.
#50: I keep my home life and my work life and separate as I possibly can. I rarely attend functions with co-workers, I avoid team lunches, and I refuse to elevate any of the social conversations from small- to medium-talk. But recently, a camaraderie has crept into my work day and without realizing it, I have jumped from the position of colleague to that of true friend. After analyzing how this could have possibly happened without my active participation, I’ve concluded there are seven steps that took place, and I fell for every one, much like the successive ways that a fish ends up going after the bait. It started off with an unannounced, extra coffee because they messed up his order. This is followed by a slight dig, a short, innocuous comment directed at a client. Afterwards, a dig about a superior. Then a serious complaint about the job, and how he always wanted to be something else and isn’t quite sure how he ended up here but he’s in too deep and he’s got nowhere else to go. Then he opened up about his hobbies and relayed yesterday’s score in the local sports match. Then he asked me if I wanted to run away together, but I thought he was offering me a cool new runway sweater, so I accepted.
#60: I once baked peanut butter balls in my kitchen that half the city got to enjoy. Strangers still stop me on the street to tell me how delicious they were.
#75: I wrote a brunch of episodes for a webseries, but then I realized I don’t know how to make webserieses so maybe I’ll turn it into one of those fiction podcasts.
#100: If ever I was to make it this far, I would have earned around a million dollars. Pre-tax. So maybe I’d complain about the taxman, especially since in Canada you get to keep all game show winnings.
#150: I watched every episode of the first season of Strangers Things at the same time.
#200: A guy broke into my house right after I finished writing a story about a guy catching someone breaking into his house and handling it better than I did.
#250: By now I’d talk about how I ran out of the prize money partying with all my friends and I need to keep winning to maintain my new lavish lifestyle.
#300: I’m left-handed, but I shoot right! And I’m right-brained, but I’m a lieutenant! And I’m left out, but I’m right on!
#400: I climb trees. After finding a nook in a towering position above the ground, I tuck myself in and become one with the birds.
#500: And then, and only then, would I tell Alex about my friggin’ shower curtain with a map of the world. Then I’d kill him, along with Johnny, before finally turning the modified murder buzzer on myself, leaving three corpses for the production designer Naomi to have to clean up. This would leave the viewers shocked until Wednesday, when an unrelated atomic bomb goes off in Burbank and gets rid of the lot of ‘em. And you wonder where it came from, don’t you? Iran? North Korea? Israel? South Carolina? Nope nope nope. It was Shia TheBoeuf. We simply cannot trust actors with the world, especially former child ones. That makes perfect sense now, of course, but there is no now. We are all dead. Nobody reads this. It is only there. Until it’s not. Poof.
¹ [Here’s where I throw in a completely fabricated story every few episodes, to keep everyone on their toes, especially Johnny. Anyway, the audience doesn’t care – they just want to be mildly entertained before some more backwards trivia questions.]
² [I relate the plot of a Friends episode and claim it as my own.]
³ [Here’s the first of my stories of being a kid, some real and some less so.]