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Gator habits for $200, Alex
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I’ll take “$300 in out of pocket expenses, the smallest hotel room I’ve ever had and $21.30 for parking” for $400, Alex.

Very recently, I was asked to go down to Orlando for an audition. For Jeopardy. As a contestant. Wonders, they shall never cease.

I had taken the online Jeopardy test a few months ago. Let me tell you, for someone who once roamed and pillaged the bar trivia scene in metropolitan Atlanta, the test had its moments of “that was easy” and “I have no clue.”

But I must have done well enough for them to send me an email inviting down to the Hard Rock Hotel in Orlando for an audition.

They wanted some bio information — just in case you make the show in order to give Alex Trebek something to ask you about. They want some basic information and then whatever hobbies you have, if you collect anything, any embarrassing moments, etc. I figured there weren’t sheets of paper for the last one.
Should I tell them about the time I had an off-duty constable bring me back to consciousness on a Montreal sidewalk, after

I went running down a flight of steps in some club, only to smack face first into the glass door and then tumble out into the cold Quebec night? Do I mention the time I sang “Mama Tried” at some watering hole at Royal Air Force Mildenhall while continuing to wait to fly on a busted plane to Kuwait?

And I forgot about the time I learned all about the alligator mating call and put it to use — much to my chagrin. As a younger lad, when I was taking part in the Governor’s Honors Program, our section took a day trip to Okefenokee Swamp. Our guide was a biology professor at Valdosta State who had grown up around the swamp. So we — there were four of us in our little boat — decided to try it out as we noticed the nose and the eyes poking out of the water. Slowly but surely those nose and eyes nosed toward our boat.

“OK, man, start the boat,” one of us said.

All we got was the “whadidididid” as the yanking of the cord failed to get the motor started. “No, really, man, start the motor.” More “whadididid.” Soon, four guys, four of 14 in a section that had 56 girls — when you’re 16 or 17, you think you’re 10 feet tall and bulletproof; make the male to female ratio 1 to 4, and you’re 20 feet tall and fireproof, in your head but not in reality — panicked. More pleading only led to more “whadididid.” Until the motor kicked in, finally, and the little boat went tearing across the swamp, past a dozen boats full of girls, back to the dock. The girls asked us, “where were y’all going?” Us: “Never mind.”

Once inside the room there at the Hard Rock, we got another 50-question test. Then, some simulated game playing with three contestants. They even tell you not to ring in until the question is asked in its completion. They follow that up with a quick interview of the three folks up there during the simulated game.

Can’t tell you what was on the test — they don’t want us divulging that information just in case someone else gets an audition in the next few months.

In all, there were 20 of us. There were about two or three lawyers and a few people who had either recently been laid off or couldn’t find work.

We all got asked what we would do with the money, if we got on the show and won. Now, getting to the audition doesn’t mean you’re headed to Los Angeles. And getting picked to go to Los Angeles doesn’t mean you’ll go on the show.

I told the contestant coordinator, Glenn, an outgoing fella, and Karina, that the truck I drove to Orlando had 399,000 miles on it — and that I would probably just use the money to go on vacation.

It could be three or four months before we hear anything, and they keep our info on file for 18 months. I hold out no great hopes of getting the call to go to LA. But if I do , by then, I ought to remember to tell them the gator mating call story.