THREAD: The death of Alex Trebek has a very special meaning to me as watching Jeopardy! together was the way my conservative father and I found respect for each other. I wrote about it in my book and thought I would share the passage as it is relevant on a lot of levels today.
I must confess, I also secretly liked when Dad was in the hospital, too. When he was, I timed my daily visits for three p.m. That was the time that Jeopardy! (the exclamation point is for effect and also part of the trademark title of the show) aired locally.
I would climb onto the bed with him, he would rub my hand, and we’d watch Jeopardy! Watching Jeopardy! together was a ritual I started in college when I tried to find a way to avoid talking politics with him.
He was endlessly frustrated at my liberalism, and I thought his Reaganitis was, well, acute. Our common ground was Jeopardy! We sat and watched the show, and for thirty minutes we screamed at the TV, not at each other.
Showing off our general knowledge prowess, we proved to each other that even though we disagreed on a fundamental life philosophy, shouting “What is the Sudetenland?” simultaneously and being correct meant that neither one could call the other stupid. It was the perfect détente.
But it left me perplexed.
When he beat me at Jeopardy!, I always thought to myself, He hates idiots. How can he know so much stuff and still like Reagan? When I won, he tossed out one of his many theories about how I turned out the way I did.
In my early twenties he blamed it on the fact that I was brainwashed by the “bearded women’s libbers” who taught “man-hating 101.”
As I got older, we started fighting about issues, like the IranContra Affair and the First Gulf War. That’s when he added a new theory: “Maybe it’s because you were conceived the night Kennedy won the election.”
I liked that one. I counted back nine months, and it was totally plausible. I had no idea! How cool!
Then I foolishly asked, “Dad, how do you know that? How can you be sure?” He simply replied, “I just know,” in a voice that conjured up a visual I dared not wonder about further.
I didn’t need any more details. After I thought about it, I didn’t need that detail. But it was when my comedy turned more political that he had the aha moment that made the most sense to both of us, cause it was a combo of 1 of his twisted truths w/ our shared sense of humor.
“Spook,” he said—he called all of us kids spook; I had no idea it was also a bad word until I heard Archie Bunker use it—“I screwed up. I raised you to have an opinion, and I forgot to tell you it was supposed to be mine.” END #LizzFreeOrDie
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