For the past few weeks, I’ve been sorting, thinning, and throwing away files. Dozens of them. And reminiscing. Yesterday, among my writing files from the early 2000s, I found this dialogue between Marv and me and thought it would be fun to post on a Grief Anniversary. Fun memories from a fifty-five-year marriage go a long way toward healing. Here goes:
Reading the Chicago Trib, he gropes for the remote from the end table, turns off the TV, and returns the remote. National news is over. It is Saturday, 6:00 pm.
She says, “It’s Saturday, isn’t it?”
He doesn’t look up from the editorial page. “Yes.”
“Isn’t this the night Jeopardy is on? Or, is it Friday?”
They have watched Jeopardy for years. “Tonight,” he mumbles, eyes still on the page, blindly reaching again for the remote. As the screen flashes on, Alex Trebek is already there, resplendent in his five-hundred-dollar silky smooth suit.
“I bet you I’ll get at least three right tonight,” she says.
“Go ahead,” he says, eyes still behind the paper.
“How many do you want to guess you’ll get right?” she says.
“I’m not in this contest,” he says.
She sighs. “Well, we’ll see who wins. If I win, you owe me an ice cream.”
“You can get all the ice cream you want on your own time,” he says.
She laughs. “I just know you want a dollar hot fudge sundae tonight from McDonald’s.” They have recently moved downtown Chicago to a high rise and Micky D’s is on the ground floor of the other side of their building. A quick walk.
Alex announces the categories. One is Medicine. She knows she’ll win.
Medicine for $100. Clue: Inventor of the smallpox vaccine. She smirks. “What is Edward Jenner?”
Medicine for $200. Clue: The name of the oath physicians take. She throws a knowing smile at her husband, who has lowered his paper, and yells, “What is Hippocratic?”
She gets the whole column—100 + 200 + 300 + 400 + 500 = $1500. Gloat floods her face.
They go on to Double Jeopardy. There is no farming or business or world events category, so there’s no chance he’ll win tonight. Neither of them knows movies or TV shows or obscure things, so they are silent almost all the way through Double Jeopardy. She is tasting the silky feel of hot fudge. Then a contestant says, “Movies for $1000.” Clue: The name of the first Harry Potter movie.
The Tribune lands on his lap as he shouts, “What is Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone?” He chuckles at her. “Hey, almost got ya.”
They sit quietly, competitively, waiting for the Final Jeopardy clue. Category: World History. She knows she’s lost.
Clue: Prime Minister of Israel.
He laughs. “Everyone knows that.” His authoritative tone continues: “What is Ehud Omert?”
She doesn’t know. She’s wagered her $1500, he’s wagered his $1000.
“Guess you’re on your own for a sundae tonight,” he says, self-satisfaction scrolling across his face as he disappears behind the paper.
Well, she thinks, there’s always next Friday. Or is it Saturday?