In Jeopardy

April 11, 2003

"I was there, to match my intellect, on national TV,
Against a plumber, and an architect, both with a Ph.D.
I was tense, I was nervous, I guess it just wasn’t my night.
Art Fleming gave the answers,
Oh, but I couldn’t get the questions right-ight-ight-
I lost on Jeopardy…"

-Weird Al Yankovic

I hate to brag, but I’m an incredibly intelligent, perspicacious, cerebral, shrewd, brainy, sagacious, and all around wise guy. I hate to brag because I’m not any of those things. I might seem smart to you, occasionally, but that’s because I’m sitting here at a computer while typing all this. And this computer has access to the internet, which not only contains vast amounts of knowledge but also, I believe, has the biggest collection of web pages ever assembled in one place. So I can sit at my desk at work and say, "You know, Mount Roraima is a tepui that’s over 9,000 feet high," but get my five feet away from my computer and I say things like, "Oh, yeah, Joan of Arc. Wasn’t he that guy who…" and I leave it to my really smart friends to fill in the blanks for me. They’re usually polite about it, saying, "Yes, she was married to Arthur Miller and kept six-toed cats," or something like that. I would probably know if I listened to them. I don’t even know things normal people know, like what football team won the World Series last year. I only know bizarre little factoids.

Anyway, every once in a while I’ll drop some odd bit of trivia, something I really do know, into conversation, and this will cause a great deal of surprise among people who either are being incredibly sarcastic and I’m just not recognizing it or they really didn’t know that, for example, toilet paper is made from trees.

I’ve actually been told on more than one occasion (which I guess would be twice) that I should go on a game show. In fact I have this secret ambition to someday go on "Jeopardy", just because it has everything that a perfect test of skill should have: speed, gambling, catchy theme music, and of course an element of surrealism with categories like "Q"-riffic!. I love "Jeopardy" so much I’ve been known to answer questions with other questions around the office. Of course on the game show they call that "Jeopardy", whereas around the office it’s called "stalling for time while I think up a good reason for not attending a meeting/writing a report/putting staples in the coffee pot/flushing my phone receiver down the toilet."

Very frequently when I watch "Jeopardy" I’m surprised to find myself answering as many as four or five questions correctly, which makes me think that if I ever happen to be in beautiful downtown Burbank I should try out for the show. But of course I know what will happen to me. At home I do fine because I’m not under any pressure, and I’m only answering the questions I’m really certain I know the answers to. Let’s face it: I could have degrees from Cambridge or Oxford if they offered courses of study in sleeping, snack chips, or Sumerian mythology. Okay, I’m kidding: I probably couldn’t tell one snack chip from another. If I got on "Jeopardy" the categories would be Calculus, French Historical Figures, Sing Along With John Fogerty, Generic Pharmaceutical Formulas, and, just for good measure, a special category called Eight Things You Couldn’t Possibly Know. Assuming I made it to Final Jeopardy and didn’t have to stand offstage to listen to the catchy theme music while clutching my complimentary copy of "Jeopardy" on CD-ROM, so I could relive the humiliation of losing in the privacy of my own home, the category would probably be Baseball or something like that. I’d be a completely pathetic loser, and that’s one more thing I’d hate to brag about.

A wealthy man decided to go on a safari in Africa.

He took his faithful pet dachshund along for company.

One day, the dachshund started chasing butterflies and before long the dachshund discovered that he was lost.

So, wandering about, he noticed a leopard heading rapidly in his direction with the obvious intention of having lunch.

The dachshund thought, "How the heck do I get out of this?"

Then he noticed some bones on the ground close by, and immediately settled down to chew on the bones with his back to the approaching cat. Just as the leopard was about to leap, the dachshund exclaimed loudly, "Boy, that was one delicious leopard. I wonder if there are any more around here?"

Hearing this, the leopard halted his attack in mid-stride and a look of terror came over him. He slunk away into the trees. "Whew," said the leopard. "That was close. That dachshund nearly had me."

Meanwhile, a monkey who had been watching the whole scene from a nearby tree figured he could put this knowledge to good use and trade it for protection from the leopard. So, off he went.

But the dachshund saw him heading after the leopard with great speed, and figured something must be up.

The monkey soon caught up with the leopard, spilled the beans and struck a deal for himself with the leopard.

The leopard was furious at being made a fool of and says, "Here monkey, hop on my back and see what’s going to happen to that conniving canine."

Now the dachshund saw the leopard coming with the monkey on his back, and thought, "What am I going to do now?"

But instead of running, the dog sat down with his back to his attackers, pretending he hadn’t seen them yet… and just when they got close enough to hear, the dachshund said, "Where’s that monkey? I sent him off half an hour ago to bring me another leopard."


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