by Kristine Lowder
“And now, here is the host of Jeopardy!” announced Johnny Gilbert as Alex Trebek strode into the studio. Alex greeted his TV audience and contestants Elaine, a New York librarian, Larry, a tax attorney from Minneapolis, and the returning four-day champ, Sylvia, a journalist turned stay-at-home mom from Phoenix. My heroine.
The big blue board splashed categories across the studio as my husband, Chris, and I settled in for the duration. Juggling questions like a Barnum and Bailey circus act, Sylvia, Elaine and Larry zipped through inquiries like, “Al Gore was one of the speakers at the 1992 U.N. Earth Summit held in this South American city” (“What is Rio de Janeiro?”) and “Of 9, 13, 20 or 100, the age of Betty Parris, one of the first people to make an accusation in the Salem Witch Trials?” Tossing her russet mane, Elaine picked up another $900 as she correctly answered, “What is nine?”
Blond and petite, Sylvia hit it big with the Daily Double in Songs’ Later Verses: “I don’t want clever conversation, I don’t want to work that hard” is heard in what pop hit?” What is, Just the Way You Are?
Larry led Elaine by $2,000 after the Double Jeopardy round. But neither the Juris Doctor nor the “librarian with two master’s degrees” could stop Sylvia the Steam Roller. The stay-at-home mom was wiping up the floor, outdistancing her nearest competitor by $3,600 going into Final Jeopardy. Ah, sweet vindication!
The match wasn’t a runaway. It would come down to careful wagering in the Final Jeopardy category of Popular Fiction. I whooped as the blue box binged and Alex read the Final Jeopardy question: “This series of over 200 books began with Kristy’s Great Idea.”
“I know this! I know this!” I hooted, sure that Sylvia did, too. Her answer was, “The Boxcar Children.”
“I’m sorry, that’s incorrect” Alex smiled, shaking his hoary head.
“No way!” I spouted. Alex the Omniscient was mistaken. There was no way Sylvia could be wrong. After all, her answer was my answer. She had to be right.
“Did she risk more than $3,000?” Alex asked. Like any self-respecting writer turned stay-at-home mom, Sylvia wagered her entire wad. She lost it all. I pouted as Elaine was crowned “the new Jeopardy champion.”
Jeopardy! was over and I snuggled up with my four-year old son to read And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street. Voice thick with sleep, Josiah announced, “Mommy, this is just like Heaven.”
Dr. Seuss is good. But not that good. “What do you mean?” I asked, “What is heaven like?”
“It’s like this,” Josiah replied from his burrow of blankets, “all warm and fuzzy and nice and love-y.” I nodded. “Except there’s one bad thing about heaven” Josiah the Theologian frowned.
I had to bite. “Who are they?”
Josiah looked up at me, rolling his droopy eyes. “You know, those bad soldiers who put Jesus on the cross, where He died for our sins. They were bad soldiers. But God loves even bad soldiers. Because God so loved the world that He gave His only forgotten Son that whoever believes in Him should not Paris but have everlasting life.”
We returned Marco to Mulberry Street with his “plain horse and wagon” and it was time for kisses and bed time prayers. Josiah bowed his head and addressed the Almighty. “Dear Lord,” he boomed in a voice that could give Pavarotti a run for his money, “Thank You for this day...”
Josiah prayed for Mommy and Daddy, asked God to bless his brothers, stuffed animals, intrepid AWANA teacher, and Eve, our yellow Lab. He wrapped up with, “God, are You listening? Can You call me? When You want me, I’m right here. My phone number is...”
Well. The correct answer to the Final Jeopardy question? “What is ‘The Babysitter’s Club?” I knew that. In fact, I can usually answer most Jeopardy! questions without too much brain strain. But if you want answers to real questions, don’t look at me. Ask my preschooler. He knows: “God, are You listening? Can You call me? When You want me, I’m right here.”