Game Show Cowboys, Part II
Click here for Part I of "Game Show Cowboys" (or just scroll down a few clicks, you lazy fucktards).
I've always had a love affair with game shows for some reason, perhaps because it's in my blood. In addition to the stories about my grandfather in Part I below, my father and aunt were coupled up on some radio or television quiz program as kids. Also, my mother would definitely win on Jeopardy! or Rock n Roll Jeopardy! or whatever show you put her on. But wait a minute, Ron, there's more.
My immediate family gathered for dinner at 7 pm every night, just as that smug d-bag Alex Trebek hit the small kitchen television screen. As a kid I'd feign sickness and stay home to watch game shows all day, taking in some Concentration, a little Scrabble, Press Your Luck and of course, always my favorite, Tic Tac Dough. I could basically pick out Wink Martindale and Chucky Woolery out of a lineup faster than I could my favorite ballplayers.
I've really never had an overwhelming desire to be on television, but I always wanted to get on a game show and kick some royal arse. I tried out for the college tournament of Jeopardy! when they came around to Northwestern in one of my final two years, but the 50-category test was damn near impossible and I walked out a beaten and deflated man.
Since sports trivia is my real love, though -- every now and then Donnie and I used to quiz each other from the sports almanac drunk and/or stoned at 5 am in the dorm freshman year -- I felt the strongest longing to appear on an ESPN game show, first the 2-Minute Drill, then Stump the Schwab. The impetus for this post: I tried out for the Schwab yesterday, and since I'm not officially out of the running as a contestant yet, I think it's only fair I omit the details of this audition.
In January of 2001, with only six months left in my college career, I sent in an application for the second season of the 2-Minute Drill, a show I thought I'd ace if given the chance. Shit, I never got questions wrong while playing at home. I was truly amazed when they called my house and told me of the tens of thousands of applicants, they wanted me to fly in to New York City (where they make the shitty salsa) and take a test. Holy balls, this was my time to shine.
Over the next few months I studied my little tuchus off for this test. I literally studied harder and put in more effort for this than any class I took in college, no question about it. I'd been lucky enough to make the cut and I wasn't going to lose on account of being rusty. In my spare time I read the sports almanac daily. I had my father and his friends fill me in on the shit that happened before I was born (Johnny Podres kind of stuff). I played the game online and watched every episode to see what kind of questions they'd be asking.
I was training like Drago, injecting myself with trivia in lieu of the juice. And I was good. You could say to me, "Ace, what happened in 1989?" And I'd be able to answer immediately, "The Niners won the Bowl, the Pistons won the NBA Finals, Al MacInnis led the Flames to the Cup, Dave Stewart led the A's to the World Series championship, Padres reliever Mark Davis and Royals pitcher Bret Saberhagen won the Cy Youngs, Tyson beat Bruno, etc." Without blinking. Occasionally I had a lapse, but I was a fucking machine. Like Drago.
I flew to New York, crashed at Red Cowboy's apartment, got up and over to the tryout. I was ready. Until the unthinkable happened...
My nemesis, a guy who flew in from Nebraska of all places, walked in and sat next to me. What are the odds? There were thousands of applicants, 10 tryout sessions of the ones they picked, 20 men (and token women) per session...and this guy managed to get picked by ESPN to take the test, and he walks into in my session. How does shit like that happen?! The second he sat down I felt a band of sweat build up on my forehead.
Let me back up a second here: I try to love everybody, like my idol, Jesus. I'd say of the 6.4 billion people in the world, I think I have maybe two or three legitimate enemies, just a few who I genuinely wish bad things enter their worthless lives -- not harm, but occasional pain and oft-defeat. These are people who have non-sexually fucked me in some way; this isn't arbitrary or anything. And tops on that list of those people is one of my first-year journalism professors.
For the first few weeks of his class, the two of us got along like peas and carrots, like Jenny and Forrest. He was a youngish guy and a fairly cool dude in that nerdy cool sense, and we'd chat about sports before and after class -- he was very fond of me as a student. Until one day he publicly called me out on something in class, and I responded by publicly calling him out (which, by the way, he was dead wrong about). Well, that was it. For the rest of the semester, he gave me nothing but the cold shoulder, Ds and Fs...anything he could do to mess me up at the school, he tried to do it.
At our end-of-the-year student/teacher meeting, he informed me I'd be getting a C+ for his class, instead of the B+ I deserved in the ledger. Why? He gave me a zero in class participation. Then he told me to transfer out of the J-school or he'd make my life a living hell. He's the only person in my adult life I actually challenged to a real fight. I literally looked at him and said, "I think we need to have a fistfight right now," and I stood up. He sat there and looked at his gradebook. I told him to fuck off and left the room.
As far as I remember, I never saw him at school after that. Not even once. But I heard his nasty-looking fiancee left him, and I smiled. Then I heard he didn't get tenure at the university, and he moved back home with his parents in Lincoln. As Georgie Bush will tell ya, the power of prayer works. I wish nothing but happiness on my fellow man...unless you give me a C+ that causes my parents to threaten me with the prospect of Nassau Community College.
So I sat down to take this 2-Minute Drill test, and he walked in and took the only seat available, the one right next to me. We made eye contact and I smiled at him, causing him to frown and lose even more hair from his balding head. I couldn't believe my misfortune. This was like walking under a ladder on Friday the 13th while holding a black cat with salt spilling out of its ass onto a broken mirror.
They gave us 12 minutes to answer 20 tough, tough, tough questions. I expected the test to be tougher than the show, but this was expert-level shit, Seve Ballesteros and Fred Merkle stuff. The worst part was the fact that you needed to answer at least 16 or 17 correct to advance. They never told us what the cut-off was, but I know for a fact I got 15 right and I didn't make it. Out of the 20 guys in the room, only two were invited to stay.
I retired to a bar across the street with an older fellow who claimed to be a trivia genius, and it looked like he only got about 9 or 10 right. instead of the next round, we did some shots, had a beer or two and got shitcanned. It was about 2 pm.
All things considered, I came back to school disappointed, but hey, I gave it my best shot. To this day I blame that awful professor for making me completely blank out on which team Christy Mathewson played for. That could have been the difference.
Still, I had fun. And that was my exact philosophy going into yesterday's Stump the Schwab tryout. I passed the test this time, kinda bombed the second part, and we'll see what happens going forward. Let's just hope my nemesis keeps his bald turd ass out of Manhattan for the next few days.
Or maybe I'll invite him to my screening interview, it could make for a better story.