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A short story: What is a little story about Thanksgiving?

By Lindsey Muth
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Wednesday, November 26, 2003
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Instead of flying back home for Thanksgiving like I always have, I'm staying here, in town, this year to study for the Jeopardy Across America trials that'll be held online Saturday.

I'm sure my family will understand.

I'm training myself to respond to all things in the form of a question, which seems to be the source of much premature Jeopardy downfall both on regular, celebrity, and student varieties pff Jeopardy. Some otherwise brilliant minds have been taken down by this small regulatory glitch. It's easier than you'd think. I think I've got it down already. Maybe I should just go back home for Thanksgiving. I can always study while I'm there.

My mother.

Who is the woman who will force-feed me creamed peas and make me watch the Macy's parade with her, while singing along to the musical numbers?

Maybe I should stay here and study.

What is a blatant and lame excuse to get out of another uncomfortable holiday spent eating creamed foods and playing rummy-cube with Uncle Gary?

I memorized all the countries of South America and Asia today. I'm working on their capitals, and I hope to begin on Europe and Africa by Friday. I'm reading concise autobiographies of the major classical composers. I'm studying seasonings as well, and giving myself timed word puzzles to keep my brain quick and logical. I'm making such amazing progress; I really should just head home for Thanksgiving. So what if I miss a day or two of training? I'm ready! It's in me! I can feel it!

I'll book my flight tonight!

I scored 93 seconds on the expert level of Minesweeper; I won 37 games of Freecell in a row! Nothing can bring me down! I purchased a battery-powered pocket Jeopardy game for the flight. When the flight attendant asked me if I'd care for a blanket I said, "What is 'Yes?'"

"Soda or juice?"

"What is 'No thank you, I'm fine?'"

The look on her face below her pinned-on paper cap was enough to tell me I had what it took to be a champion. I could tell she barely understood what I was doing. Well, the little people rarely do.

Uncle Gary met me at the airport. "Nice to have you home," he said. "Your mother wanted to come, but she's busy with tomorrow's dinner. Getting stuff together and whatnot."

"You'll have your old bedroom. We freshened it up. Looks just like when you left; smells better," he teased. We drove away from the airport and toward home.

"What is, 'Where I will stay?'"

"In your room." Gary's hunting cap hid most of his face from my view, but I could see the frown on his forehead. "Weren't you listening, J?"

This wasn't going to work. My family had no patience for games, and I couldn't expect them to play along. They'd never do it. I wanted to win the Jeopardy Across America trials as much as I'd ever wanted to do anything in my life.

"What is 'Yes?'" I tried. I looked over at Gary, but he was unimpressed. I felt stupid, but at the same time, I was glad I was home. I probably would've ended up feeling just as stupid in my dorm room back home. At least here I had my family to feed me warm food and play board games with me.

"I'm going to try out for Jeopardy on Friday," I told Uncle Gary. "I've been training all week. I almost didn't come for Thanksgiving. I really want to win!"

"I'm sure you'll do just fine, Jess. I still don't see why you were talking stupid back there, though."

Inside, I knew. I thought to myself, "Why is because I was immersing myself in the rules of the game, which I know I will win on Friday." But I didn't say anything else about it. I had my atlas, my reference books and a pocket Jeopardy in my bag. Mom would quiz me after dinner if I asked her to. And, come Friday morning, I would be ready for whatever impossible question challenge might come my way.

Thanksgiving and Jeopardy did not have to be enjoyed separately. I had found a way to combine the two into one of the most fulfilling holidays of all time!

Answer: This one!

Question: What would be a fabulous Thanksgiving?

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