I don’t think it’s an over-generalization to say there are two basic kinds of people in America. No, not Republicans and Democrats. No, not Coke vs. Pepsi drinkers. And, no, not people who like to vacation at the beach and people who like to vacation in the mountains, the latter also known as wrong people.
Americans can be divided into two main groups — folks whose favorite TV game show is “Jeopardy” and folks who prefer extremely slow shows like “Wheel of Fortune,” “Family Feud” or “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?”
After decades of watching the rapid-fire pace of “Jeopardy,” I can’t sit through an entire episode of those other shows. I get impatient if one of the “Jeopardy” contestants takes more than two seconds to choose another clue or reads the whole darn category.
“I’ll take ‘American musicians of the 1990s who are left-handed’ for $200, Alex.”
“Please just say ‘American musicians.’ This show’s only 30 minutes long.”
I don’t think I’ve sat through an entire episode of “Wheel of Fortune” since way back in the 1980s when that Pat Sajak guy hosted it and that Vanna White lady turned the letters. What? They’re still doing it? OK, well then, I haven’t watched it since the contestants had to spend their winnings right there on the spot every time they solved one of those common phrases such as “All that glitters is not mold.”
Yes, kids, there was a time when solving the puzzle was only half the battle. Then, you had to look at a bunch of junk and decide how to spend your $600 instead of moving on to the next puzzle. And you think the show is slow now? No, we had to spend 10 minutes listening to conversations like:
“I’ll take the ceramic cat for $55, Pat.”
“OK, that leaves you with $545.”
“Then I’ll take the genuine faux diamond bracelet for $25.”
“OK, that leaves you with $520. Maybe there’s a gun you can buy, and then shoot me. I mean, really, please, just shoot me. I don’t want to do this for the next 35 years.”
Just as I’ve seen every episode of “Scrubs” and every episode of “The Andy Griffith Show” before Barney left and Deputy Warren ruined it, I never miss an episode of “Jeopardy.” We DVR the show and watch it without commercials — the only time we ever see commercials is during live sports broadcasts — so it’s even more rapid-fire without ads.
My wife and I try to yell out the correct responses before the contestants can buzz in. My wife, though, has some trouble with specifics. “Who is, you know, that guy, from the book, you know, on the island?”
“Who is Robinson Crusoe?”
“Yeah, that’s what I said! I win!”
Of course, now “Jeopardy” has become the James Holzhauer Show. He’s the professional sports gambler — now there’s a career I wish I had — who has reeled off 22 straight wins and won $1,691,008 for an average of $76,864 per victory. To put that average win in perspective, his average daily win is just $116 shy of the previous record winnings in a day of $77,000. Holzhauer has topped that 11 times, with his highest daily winnings totaling $131,127. He also holds the record for consecutive correct responses at 187.
In other words, if you’re lucky enough to appear on “Jeopardy” only to find yourself facing this guy, it’s probably best to buy him a drink or 12 before the show. After 12 drinks, even James will be saying, “Um, who is, you know, that guy in the White House, the tweeting golfer dude?”
Fortunately, we’ve begun a two-week Teachers Tournament, and normal people take up the buzzers, giving James a break and giving me a two-week break from being humbled every night as I sit on my sofa and yell out responses way too late to beat James. I love “Jeopardy,” but this guy is making me feel old and slow.
Oh, and poor.