Laura Byrne Paquet

My Date with Alex

Published in Ottawa City Magazine

Jeopardy!          Being on Jeopardy! is a crazy idea, really. It’s like taking a pop quiz in front of millions of people, all of whom are sitting at home yelling, “You idiot! Everyone knows that the capital of Chad is N’Djamena!”
            Fortunately, I won’t be able to hear most of those people when my brush with fame airs on May 17th.
            Auditioning for Jeopardy! (yes, the exclamation point is part of the name) was my husband Paul’s idea. We both tried out while on vacation in L.A. last June and both qualified. Then we came home to wait for The Call.
            The irony is that Paul should have been called instead of me. He’s the Trivia King and knows far more than I about the solar system and American sports leagues. I’m more of a very minor Trivia Princess. But the telephone bell tolled for me, so back to L.A. we went.
            The day of the taping, the contestants headed to the studio in a hotel shuttle that Paul had affectionately dubbed The Nerd Bus. As we puttered along palm-fringed streets, we chatted with each other and secretly dreamed of ways to spend our anticipated riches. Well, at least I did.
            We each toted a case or suit bag containing two changes of clothes. Since five shows are taped every day, contestants need several ensembles. Unfortunately, the luggage made me feel like I was about to be voted off the island or fired by Donald Trump.
            Once at the Sony Pictures Studios, we spent much time filling out forms, at least one of them longer than the average mortgage contract. If I ever have a first-born child, I may have to name it Alex, for all I know.
            On the glassy, blue set, we had a few minutes to practise using the buzzers. Within what felt like seconds, that familiar theme music started playing and the camera swooped over the audience. Alex Trebek emerged from backstage, moved to the podium and started peppering us with trivia questions.
            Before you ask, I can’t tell you what the questions were or whether I won. One of the contracts noted in bold type—and I’m paraphrasing a bit here—that if I revealed the outcome of the show before the airdate, the Jeopardy! gods would strike me dead.
            So don’t ask.
            But I can tell you that when it was all over, Paul and I simply walked across the lot and out to the sidewalk to get a cab. There wasn’t even a Nerd Bus to shuttle us back to the hotel.
            How fleeting is fame.