Eileen’s Trip to Jeopardy! Part 9 – The Moment Has Come


They just called my name. I’m up. My heart rate is suddenly 200 and my mouth is dry. Back to make-up and the lady applies another layer of spackle and spends a lot of time around the bags under my eyes. Again. Like they got worse as I was sitting there through three games. Must have been all the frustration of watching every category I knew(Really? Movie songs? Come on!!) without being up on stage.

One thing they keep emphasizing is that from the moment you make the show, the rest is luck. You can be the smartest person in the world and get stuck with ten categories you know nothing about. You could bet it all on the wrong category. You could be up against Ken Jennings. (It’s why they tell you about that Harvard thing. To relieve the sting of humiliation when you slink back off the stage wondering how anybody could know anything about fly fishing).

I keep thinking of that as they mike me up and stand me behind the middle booth. Remember? The booth that had the trouble with its pen? Its my excuse, anyway.

Okay. So when I get excited my handwriting goes to hell. I write my name, and the producer frowns. “Again?” she asks the camera guy. He nods. “Again.” So we erase it and do it over again. But the entire letter E isn’t showing. Again. The e’s look like snails crawling across the page. Again. The lines are more wobbly than an EKG in v-fib. Again. And every time they stop and start again, my handwriting gets worse. Final Jeopardy is going to be hell.

Just as we finally settle on the least awful version of my name, the stage manager says, “Okay, everybody. The hydraulic boxes are going up. Don’t move!” And I have the oddest impression not that I’m going up, but that my booth is sinking into the stage. I’m evidently standing as high as you can get.

I just had an out-of-body experience. I’m standing at the middle podium like I belong there, and Johnny Gilbert has just said my name. Eileen Dreyer from St. Louis. Just like that. It’s official now. I’m on Jeopardy!

And you want to know the God’s honest truth? I don’t remember much of what happened from there on out. I’m going to have to watch with you to remember. I do remember Alex asking my question. I thought for sure he was going to ask about the time my husband got me a day with the Texas Air Aces, where I went up in a jet trainer and did dog-fighting. Instead, he actually asked about romance writing, and we ended up being way more serious than I thought we would. I remember him walking off halfway through. But I know he gave me a nice answer. I remember a couple of the questions, and the time I stood there like a rock when I didn’t realize that I got the next question. “Oh,” I finally remember saying. “I guess this is me.” I could almost hear my sister groaning in the audience. Hey. It was a new experience for me.

One of the things that impresses me. The judges check every answer to make sure they’re correct. Not just the contested answers. Every right answer and every wrong answer. There is an entire panel of judges at a table at the front of the stage, They also have a contestant ombudsman to stand up for the contestant if there’s a decision that takes money away. They do the checking during commercials. That’s why you can see Alex after commercials say, “Well, Glenn, good news.” or “Well, Glenn, bad news.” They made a decision on one of my answers. Tune in to find out whether it’s thumbs up or thumbs down.