Saturday, mar. 15, 2008 | 0 commentsou know how you're watching Jeopardy and you're feeling kinda ricky retardo 'cause you missed the last three in the "Sandra Bullock Movies" category. You start thinking about how high-school was a joke, how education in the States is debilitating--while all those non-americans were learning multiple languages, memorizing Ulysses, and taking field trips to the Louvre, we were taking two breaks and a lunch (plus one period of PE) and getting out at three (noon on the frequent "minimum days"), taking three month summers, along with weeks here and there for things like "ski week," off and generally doing everything we could to lodge ourselves at an 8th grade reading level and doom ourselves to a life of being outraged over the fact that Portland is not the capital of Oregon. Maybe it was the teachers. Yeahokaychachi, I had a few good ones, but they were totally eclipsed by the freakish and inept. American History (mandatory) was taught by this guy who's main claim to fame was that he had been a regular on, but not actually one of, the "Little Rascals." I think he had initially been hired as the track coach but had somehow weaseled his way into an actual teaching position, perhaps dazzling the school board with his star-studded childhood. At 60-something, he prided himself on still being a swinging bachelor--definitely NOT gay (he was really into illustrating this via an elaborate and insane limp-wristed on-fire routine that was supposed to convince us on what side of the fence he rode--in fact, he would go on to talk about how lesbians were also icky 'cause they presented him with unwanted competition when it came to the ladies. As an added bonus, he very helpful when it came to explaining how one didn't need to have "Negroid features" -- wide nose, big lips, fast runner -- to be considered black because Egyptians, who shared none of these attributes, were officially negroes. [INSERT PREGNANT PAUSE HERE FOR CROWD TO EXPRESS THEIR AMAZEMENT OVER THIS UNBELIEVABLE TURN OF EVENTS] This was 1988, folks. 1988. The only other thing I retained from that semester de Hades was how rabidly he hated Hells Angels and all forms of astrology. As he droned on about one prejudice or another, everybody glazed at the clock, drew pictures on their shoes and binders, and cheated on all the tests. It was really not altogether unlike serving time in the big house.)
So I sit and fume over my misspent youth, feeling threatened and awestruck by those answer-in-the-form-of-a-question competitors. Jesus. What are they doing, injecting steroids into their noggin?
And then it comes time for Alex to meet his guests. Invariably, there's this smug and awkward pause-ridden delivery of this totally mundane tale. Lots of unwarranted and self-congratulatory laughter. I feel superior. Hehe. Look at the intellectual fortress crumble! They may be mensa-geniuses, but they are also socially retarded. Hehe. I am then able to go forward unthreatened into the double jeopardy round, surrounded by the force-fielding knowledge that, though I can't touch them smarts-wise, they are people both boring and alone, perhaps even worthy of a touch of pity.
But then someone once asked me what story, exactly, would I choose to share if I happened to find myself at the jeopardy podium, if it were MY head and torso floating above the monitor featuring "Evany" written corner-to-corner in fluffy cursive.
And sweet-jesus, I couldn't and can't think of one thing exciting or righteous to tell America that would set me apart/above the mental jeopardy-giants. It was a humbling moment, one that I hark back to often. Especially during my lowest moments--usually in traffic or when I'm lying in bed, awake, at 7am on a Sunday, trying to pretend I'm still asleep and not an android permanently programmed to arise for my 9to5.
When the inevitable sets in, and I'm feeling totally at the bottom of the belly of the whale, blue beyond belief over my aggressive mediocrity, I comfort myself with a fantasy based loosely on that okay movie "Quiz Show," but relying heavily on a suspicion I have about Alex. I'm fairly sure he's recruited an army of Canadians that he has trained and briefed to play Jeopardy contestants displaying a perfect balance of uber-brilliance and pedestrian get-ta-know-ya stories. Alex has fiendishly crafted this balance to strike a chord and permanently dishearten all of the United States. Or just me, depending on how paranoid I'm feeling.