13 might be lucky this time

     (June 13!)  Today was the big day.  The one I wait for.  The one that may lead to dreams coming true (mine and others).  The Jeopardy! audition! 
     The ride to Kansas City from Lincoln went smoothly.  My mom was afraid that our path would be blocked because of floods, but we did not need to take an alternate route.  The water did fill up one of the two lanes going east on Highway 2, near Nebraska City.  If it rains any more, the road will have to close.  On our way back, we noticed that businesses in that area had built huge mounds (there’s probably a better word) all the way around them, to protect them from flooding.
     After changing, I found the room where the tests were administered.  (I was thrilled when Maggie and Corina said they liked my dress as I approached to play the mock game.  Mission accomplished!)  I still had about a half-hour left before my audition was to start, so I said goodbye to my parents and filled out an application in a big room outside the “holding room.”  One of the questions on the application that I had not remembered from last time was, Have you had played in quiz bowl? (or something to that effect). They also asked on the application whether I knew anyone who had been on the show! I hadn’t remembered being asked that before, but then I didn’t know anyone who’d been on the show when I last took the in-person test in 2007. They wanted to know my relationship to them, how often we communicate, and when we last communicated. I listed as many people as I could think of, but I forgot somebody obvious. Later, during the mock game, Maggie started listing all those people I listed! I had to say quickly, for the benefit of the other people in the audition, that I write a blog about the show and that’s how I know those people. (I did mess up and say that Vijay Balse was the first person I interviewed – In fact it was Stephen Weingarten.) Maggie was complimentary about many of the people that I listed. She asked me what advice any of them had given me! I told her someone told me to follow their instructions “to the letter.”
     Today, the coordinators could not advise strongly enough that we have to be LOUD when we select clues and also when we respond.  I think I fell short there in past attempts, so I made a big point to shout, or so it felt to me.  I hadn’t thought about what a challenge that will be if I’m ever selected on the show, maintaining that voice the whole time!  But I know I did it right this time: Maggie said as I was playing with two guys that I was doing well with speaking loud, but the other guys need to be LOUDER!  (Phew!)
     While I was filling out the application, something happened very similar to another time I’d taken the test: About 10 years ago, I took the test for the second or third time in Los Angeles. My aunt was with me, and we were early. She crept up to the door of the testing room and accidentally closed it as she tried to peek in. She scurried away, and a few minutes later, a contestant coordinator (“Glenn,” who was there again today) walked up and tried to get in the room but couldn’t because she locked it when she closed it. He had to call someone to open it up. Almost the same thing happened today! My mom, this time, walked up to the door and tried to peek in (but it was already closed). After my parents left, “Robert,” who took my picture today and last time I took the in-person test in 2007, tried to get in the room but had to call for someone to open it because it was locked. I happened to sitting right under the phone he used.
     At about the same time, I noticed a guy was gone who had been sitting at the other end of the table. He left behind an Omaha World-Herald! Turns out he was one of several Omaha residents in my test. One of them came up to me after the test and asked for the URL to my blog.  When the World-Herald-reading guy left, I decided to move to the holding room, too.
     There, I heard a guy say either this was his third time taking the test or he’d already taken it three times. A lady next to me (from Lincoln, Nebraska, incidentally) was like, “You’re an old pro!” I wanted to go, “You know how many times I’ve taken the test?” The guy took advantage of the lady’s admiration and was like, “Oh, it’s always the same…” [my eyes rolling]
     Last time Robert took my picture, in 2007, he said I reminded him of somebody but he couldn’t think of who it was. Later the coordinators were all considering it, and Maggie decided I looked like Carol Lynley. (I know Lynley as “Nonnie” in The Poseidon Adventure. I’ll let you look up her image so I don’t have to obsess about finding a good one!) Would you believe Maggie said the very same thing this time when I went to play the mock Jeopardy! game? I told her she told me that last time, and she stood up to high-five me. Maggie’s good – I heard another potential contestant say Maggie remembered her despite the fact that it had been several years, she’d had a much shorter haircut, and oh yeah, she’d lost 80 pounds. Incidentally, that girl writes a blog, too, but I didn’t quite catch what it was called. Something about girl geeks. Maybe she’ll stop by here and leave a comment? I hope? 

     Before we took the test, Maggie had a Wii Jeopardy game to give away to someone who could answer a Jeopardy! trivia question.  They gave away a prize last time, too.  The question at that time was, How many consecutive games did David Madden win in the regular season?  I didn’t know at the time, but I sure do now.  Someone did know the answer, and I was impressed.  Turns out the guy knew David personally.  Today they wanted to know what was the correct response to the second Final Jeopardy that Watson faced.  Everybody knew about how Watson thought “Toronto” was an American city.  No one in the room remembered that “Bram Stoker” was the correct response to Final Jeopardy the next day.
     I actually had great fun listening to the other contestants talk about themselves.  They had good stories.  Best one, I thought: One guy had been robbed at gunpoint!  He had details that made the story even more interesting.  Another guy had just received a kidney from his best friend.  He said he’d been on dialysis for a year, and that if he won on Jeopardy! he wants to take a trip.  I thought that was sweet.
     That’s the question you can expect for sure: What would you do with the money?  I said today what I said in 2007 (and I mean this from the bottom of my heart): I want to win for the glory, not the money.  That didn’t go over well in 2007, but today it seemed like a hit with both the fellow contestants and the coordinators.  Maggie still encouraged me to say what I’d do with Jeopardy! winnings.  I thought of this on the way home and I wish I would’ve said it there: What I’d like to get from being a Jeopardy! champion is experiences that I otherwise might not get, things so wild I don’t dare describe them lest it look like I’m expecting more success than is prudent.  I would be thrilled to meet interesting people that I wouldn’t otherwise have access to, for example.
     All in all, the day was a success.  It will be an even bigger success if I am chosen this time around.  I genuinely had a good time today.  Now I wait…
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