Kelley Lonergan

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Thank you, Johnny Gilbert

It’s been a long day.

I’ve been lying on the couch since work ended at 3:00 p.m. I am slovenly horizontal.

My pajamas are on, and my work clothes are off; they are off and scattered across my bedroom floor: my closet.

It’s 6:45 p.m., and the news is on. The television is resting on channel seven, and Diane Saywer’s face is on my screen. Everything is set to mute.

I have my back to the screen, and my face covered by slightly uncomfortable couch pillows. My phone is in my hand, my eyes are closed.

It’s 6:50. I look at my phone and groan. Five more minutes. I get to close my eyes for five more minutes. But five more minutes is never enough.

My phone starts vibrating at 6:55. I hold it in my hand, swipe with my thumb to turn it off, and return to my fetal position. I reach around me without looking, searching for the feel of the remote. It’s above my head. I push the mute button, and the sound of commercials blares through my brain, my soul. I turn the volume to 13, and lay the remote back down. I close my eyes for two, not five, more minutes.

It’s 7:00 p.m. when I hear the music. I turn to the screen, but I do not sing along. Do I ever sing along? Maybe. But not today. It’s been a long day.

The show starts.

“And here’s your host, Alex Treeeeebec!” I bellow, involuntarily.

I answer my yell with a sincere, “Thank you, Johnny Gilbert, thank you, ladies and gentlemen.”

I do not sing the theme song, but I do mimic the opening lines. Why I do one and not the other, a mystery.

“And welcome to our show.”

Alex begins to announce the categories.

“Literature, Literature, Literature.” I repeat under my breath. No Literature. Lakes.

“C’mon man, Lakes?! I hate Lakes.” I say to no one.

The show plays on. Answer. Question. Answer. Question. Daily Double.

I always gasp when the Daily Double pops up.

“Oh no!” I say.

The category: American History Before 1930.

A True Daily Double is announced. I wince.

I don’t like Daily Doubles, they are too much of a risk, a gamble. They’re nerve-wracking. Especially when I like the contestant and don’t want them to lose.

And I like the contestant today.

“You’re going to lose it! You’re gonna lose it!” I warn Citlali.

She gets the answer right, and I can breathe again.

Answer. Question. Answer. Question.

Our first commercial break.

I could pause, and get food, but I choose not to get up. I don’t want to get up, and I can’t find the remote. (Where did I put it?) I keep my same horizontal position, and turn my body back to the couch cushions. Two more minutes.

Alex interviews the contestants, and I listen with my back still turned, only shifting forward when the third contestant gets his turn.

Answer. Question.

“Shut up, Alex!” I groan once or twice when Alex snidely chastises a contestant. I think that is Alex’s favorite part, making fun of the competitors. He takes such joy in it. Alex is a mean man.

More commercials.

I know most of the commercials by now. Icy Hot. Restasis. Gold Bond. There’s a denture advertisement, but I cannot remember the product’s name. The show assumes I am seventy-five. If it were anyone else, I would find that rude. But, in its defense, Jeopardy! doesn’t know any better.

I examine my split ends.

My favorite part happens after the second commercial break: Double Jeopardy. The refresh of categories refreshes me. A second commercial break means no more Lakes. I hate Lakes.

“Literature, Literature, Literature,” I murmur again.

“Rhyme Time!” Alex announces.

“Eh, “ I say, “I’ll take it.”

Answer. Question.

“Dun, d-dun, dun, dundunDUN!” I sing. Another Daily Double.

Answer. Question.

Justin is running the categories. He’s blowing through “Whatchu Talkin’ Bout Wallace.”

“Gah!” The third Daily Double. The category is “Who Knows ‘C-P-R.’?” (Notice the C-P-R in quotation marks.) Jim has the floor.

Wrong answer! $3000 gone! Anxiety.

Answer. Question.

I know a lot of the answers, and I answer out loud around every third question; it depends on my mood.

We are back to “Whatchu Talkin’ Bout Wallace.”

“This 3-named author penned a 1989 collection of short stories titled — “

“David Foster Wallace,” I answer before the question is over. I’m proud of myself and prove myself to no one.

Silence.

“DAVID FOSTER WALLACE!” This time, I yell.

More silence.

“OH MY GOD, IT’S DAVID FOSTER WALLACE.”

Time is up.

“You DUMMIES, it was David Foster Wallace!”

I won’t let it go. I’m irate. How could these people not know!

Answer. Question.

Commercial break.

“The answer is Aleve!” My television tells me. I believe it.

Final Jeopardy! is about Government. I’m not interested (it’s not Literature), so I let the answer roll over me.

The question is, “What is the Secret Service?” No one gets it right.

Who knew? I didn’t.

It’s been a long day.

Now, where did I put the remote?