All is vanity (Day One of the Decades Tournament, spoiler-free)

     Looking for the scoop on Jeopardy!‘s Battle of the Decades? Look no further. But do read on. (And ask me anything!)
     What a dream – attending the tournament in person?? I know exactly how lucky I am. I was on a cloud, leisurely riding to the Omaha airport when I got a call saying my flight was delayed half an
hour. I only had 45 minutes to make my
connection anyway, and I was already due to arrive on the late side, 9:36 p.m., into Los Angeles. This was especially maddening because I had taken my sweet time and dawdled around with my parents in Lincoln all day. Had I known I’d have tried to fly standby. By the time the plane actually left Omaha (well
over half an hour late), our new ETA in Minneapolis was the same time my plane to Los Angeles
was scheduled to leave. I scrambled off my plane but the monitor indicated my
connecting plane had departed. I was rescheduled for a flight the next day at
6:30 a.m. – from Minneapolis to Los Angeles via Atlanta?! But if I hadn’t gone that way I’d never have seen some amazing-looking pieces of cake at a place called, fittingly, Piece of Cake. I walked by like 3 times. The clerks greeted me but all I did was stare at the cake.

     It occurs to me that something from them would be a fun giveaway, wouldn’t it, in honor of 80s week?
     I was given a hotel room and a voucher in Minneapolis, but I was told I’d have to wait 2 hours to get my suitcase back for the night. I decided being coherent the next
day was (slightly) more important than looking okay, so I went back to my hotel
with just an airline-issued overnight kit. No makeup, dress, hair stuff, nothing,
and I knew I’d have to go to the studio that way if I wanted to see any of the 80s episodes. To think I’d been worried my elbows wouldn’t be scrubbed.
     The t-shirt in the kit was useless. Of course it was huge but also sheer. I purposely hadn’t done my
hair either, knowing I would be the next day. My mom took my picture so that I could show my sister the top I was wearing:

     The airline also gave me $25 to spend on dinner either at the airport or the hotel, and I chose the latter. I was proud of myself for calculating well enough to come within like 10 cents of the $25. I was less proud when I walked out of the restaurant with an armload of pizza.
     The flights the next day were uneventful,
thank goodness, although a fire alarm did go off as the plane was about to
board in Minneapolis. Of course I arrived in L.A. too late for the morning session but just in time for
the afternoon one. That’s the Thursday and Friday episodes, then. As luck would have it, Andy has to cover the Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday episodes this week anyway! And I will learn the Monday and Tuesday results like you will, by watching the show on TV. I do know the Wednesday result only because Mr. Trebek mentioned it at the beginning of the Thursday episode. I thought after Friday’s episode he’d reveal everyone who won. But he didn’t! He did say that the finals were airing in May. He must’ve been gearing up to say that – he had asked around during the commercial break when the finals would be on TV.
     The
same guy that worked there when I was a contestant, “Mel,” gave audience members the rundown on what to do and expect. But
I didn’t hear this before, of course! I was worried because he acted like
we should’ve already shown someone our ticket, but if I were to walk up to that person right then it would’ve created a significant interruption. The guy said I was in no
matter what, but the audience seating looked packed, and I doubt anyone came
after me. Another potential problem, and a heads-up if you ever print your tickets to take to the studio – I printed mine for the next day (regular episodes to air in April) on the back
of this ticket. Luckily they let me
keep the sheet of paper but this wasn’t routine, and they didn’t look very happy. So, learn from my mistake!
     I kept my fingers crossed that I didn’t miss Jerome Vered play. He’s the only of the 80s contestants I’ve actually met. I thought it was a
good sign when I saw Alan Bailey, Michael Rooney, Mark May, Hans von Walter and
Cliff Galiher walk by just feet away from me, but it was with a heavy heart – I so desperately wanted to say hi! I had not met Hans and was so eager to. I thought I didn’t look bad considering the circumstances. But it still wasn’t good enough for me to come forward since I’d see everybody at the pub the next day in a much better state! I haven’t let on that I saw them and was so close, but they’ll know now if they read this. 😉 
     It was
interesting walking in as an audience member and not a contestant. I was
tempted to slap the green room door as I walked by! Contestant coordinator
Glenn was reading clues to the contestants, just like he had when I played. A
dead giveaway that Jerome hadn’t played yet – he was rehearsing! So was famous
Frank Spangenberg.
     I was very happy – I can’t even tell you how much so – to be seated on the same side of the studio as the 80s contestants. This means I could watch their every move and hear much of what they say. So I got to see the contestants, even if they’d already played. I thought Jerome saw me, but now I’m not sure. I avoided eye contact on purpose since at that time he hadn’t played. But when I saw him the next night at O’Brien’s pub, I got the impression he hadn’t seen me. He asked me why I didn’t say hi. I was taken aback but later when I got my wits about me I explained about having to come to the studio wearing the same clothes as the day before, etc.
     I
thought I couldn’t stand to see the Jeopardy!/Wheel of Fortune montage one more time (except for the guy who says “A group of pill-pushers” when trying to solve the puzzle), but Leslie Frates helped make
it enjoyable. I haven’t seen “Groundhog Day,” but do you know the part where Bill
Murray says “Meh-hee-co” while watching Jeopardy!? Apparently it was Leslie he was copying, because she
cheered and took high-fives from her peers at that part of the montage! If I remember correctly, the montage used to even show Leslie. This time it didn’t.
     I sat
on the opposite side of the studio as Alan Bailey et al. I thought about teasing them
by standing on my tiptoes and waving from my side, but I was on the wrong end
of my row. I stood up later, and Michael Rooney saw me do it and
looked. I hadn’t met him though, so he didn’t know me. I laughed as I sat down.
     There was no sign of contestant
coordinator Robert! That was disturbing. I took action after I got this tweet:

     I tweeted Teachers Tournament champ John Pearson.

     He said Maggie, Robert and Corina were there. I got to see and talk to Robert myself at the taping of the 90s and 2000s decades a couple of weeks ago, and he’s pictured in this post. All three of the Clue Crew were present at the
taping and were introduced to the crowd. I recognized the ladies that did my
makeup both days I was at the studio to tape, and I recognized the guy, “Mitch,” that did
my microphone.
     Come back every day this week for much more. As for my appearance that day, maybe I needn’t have worried after all – While we audience members were filing out of the studio, two high school girls told me they like my top.
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