Jeopardy on the 74C


The post on Public Transit Anthropology the other day reminded me of one other story I'd wanted to share with you while I remembered--

The tale of a fellow commuter I'd met many years ago, and why, in spite of the huge environmental benefits of public transit or carpooling, I'm once again grateful to be safely locked into my own car, completely alone.

It all begins at a perfectly normal bus stop, in a perfectly normal city neighborhood. And it was at this bus stop that each day I began to encounter a fellow who we'll call "Drew Corso." (Not his real name.)

Now, Drew Corso was one of those guys-- soft-spoken, chatty, perfectly polite-- but always sharing a little too much... and a little too out-of-touch... to make a person feel truly comfortable...

Wearing the same kind of khakis and shirt buttoned up to his neck each day... the same mild manner... the same buzz-cut hair...

He was the kind of person I could totally picture keeping dead Boy Scouts in the crawl space--

But responsibly watering his elderly neighbors' plants while they were away.

When the smell from the Boy Scouts would get too intense and someone would finally call the cops? I could just picture all the neighbors being really surprised. "He was so polite." "He was so soft-spoken." "He never let a plant go without water."

This is what would go through my mind as we'd wait at the stop, and he'd try to engage me in conversation.

Now you're probably wondering how I knew his full name. And that's because Drew Corso was always asking people-- folks in his building... folks in his chess club... folks at, oh, his bus stop-- whether they knew any available women.

"Drew Corso-type Girls" as he called them. Though from the general gist, it sounded like any girl could be a Drew Corso-type Girl, as long as she didn't run away screaming.

And even then, I wasn't so sure he'd notice.

Drew Corso was an enterprising fellow about finding potential new love interests, too. To further this initiative along, he'd made up dating cards he'd distribute to the people he'd meet, just in case they ran across a "Drew Corso-type Girl" and they didn't have his contact information, photo, and personal statistics readily-at-hand.

I suspected there were some "Drew Corso-type Girls" in the crawl space with the Boy Scouts.

Now, this bus stop was the only one in my area that would take me where I'd needed to go. So each day, I had to wait at this stop, and each day, Drew Corso would be there, telling me some new angle of his life.

I learned about how he played chess with a couple of elderly Russian men in his building...

I learned how he was originally from California and, due to a divorce, he had left and come randomly to Pennsylvania where he had no family or friends...

I learned he had a daughter he was not allowed to be anywhere near due to a restraining order...

And I learned he was legally not allowed to drive; that he'd had a license, but they seem to have taken it away from him.

All of those things painted a picture that made me very nervous in an undefined way.

One day, Drew and I were standing at the stop per normal and he decided to strike up conversation. I removed my headphones, which had proven an adequate buffer for about a week now. "I'm sorry?"

"I said, I've recently been getting into television."

Me, with a nervous smile: "Oh."

"Yes, I've been watching this program lately that has these people on it who have to answer really difficult trivia. But they have to do it in the form of a question."

"Ah..."

"It's called Jeopardy. Have you heard of it?"

I'm sure my smile was even more nervous now: "Er, yes. Yes, I have."

Jeopardy, at this point, had been on TV about a decade. There were likely monks in the far snowy mountains of Tibet who could sing the Double-Jeopardy theme song.

"Yes, it's really fascinating," he went on. "And I'm learning a lot. But you know, what interests me most is how intelligent the host is."

"Alex Trebec?"

"Ah, so you do know it!" Delight was in his voice now. "Yes, he's just brilliant! I don't know what his IQ is, but he has to be a genius. He knows all of the answers to all the questions. It's just amazing. The contestants make a mistake, and he just explains to them where they went wrong and---"

Me, mumbling: "Um, he has the answers written down."

"...Just very intelligent and-- what?"

More loudly now: "Alex Trebec. He doesn't really know the answers to all the questions. He has them written down on cards. For the TV show."

I can still see the look of shock and disillusionment on his face. "I had no idea! That is good to know. I was wondering how it was even possible, I-- What is your name, by the way?"

"Er... Rachel," I said quickly.

Drew Corso didn't know Alex Trebec had cue cards, but he seemed to know instantly I was lying about my name.

"Rachel--" he repeated suspiciously, "here, let me give you one of my cards. You aren't single, are you? I'm looking for a Drew Corso-type Girl." Which, of course, we all knew, because he'd been giving those cards out willy-nilly for months now.

"Er... sorry," I told him. "I have a boyfriend." Two lies in ten seconds, an all new record for me in self-preservation and fibbing. In fact, my boyfriend was getting taller and could benchpress more weight by the moment...

I began to think he might also know TaeKwon Do and carry nunchakas around for fun. It was funny I was with him, really, as he wasn't especially my type.

"Oh, that's a shame-- you seem very intelligent, Rachel."

"Thanks." Yeah, intelligent. Like Alex Trebec. "You know, I think I'm just going to walk today," I said.

Okay, so, yes, it was a couple of miles to work from there, and I was in a business suit with heels. But the exercise would do me good. I would walk every day for most of that year, until I finally got my car.

You see, crawl spaces never really suited me.

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29 comments:

Karen said...

Oh yes, the bus stop. I was once waiting for the Pregnant Lady bus on a corner in Seattle, when a couple of bike cops in shorts and bicycle helmets charged through our little crowd and shoved some guy up against the wall. Eventually there were many many cops involved in the whole rumpus, and the pawn shop on the corner was being raided or something, guns were being fondled and we all decided to wait for the bus at the stop where all the hookers hung out. It was safer than the pawn shop corner! Ah, good times.

ReformingGeek said...

Yikes! That's one scary dude. I'd be seriously thinking about that concealed handgun permit or some mace or honing my bench press skills.

Jenn Thorson said...

Karen- Yes indeedy-- that is the kind of fun and, um-- excitement-- one experiences in the city. :)

Jenn Thorson said...

Reforming Geek- Heh, yes, I just tried to keep a polite distance. I never did find out exactly what the deal was with why he couldn't see his daughter, or why he was way across the country, when she was in California. It raised some interesting questions, though.

Marvel Goose said...

I really liked this one especially the way you tied it up at the end.

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I'm betting that Alex was just a normal guy until 10 years of reading trivia questions on air turned him into a mutant.

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Jonny's Mommy said...

walk?! At least on a crowded bus he couldn't stab you in the back, drag you into the woods and...What? Sorry...I've seen a lot of those movies OK? No, they weren't good and yes, it was a waste of my time. Still, I'm just saying...I wouldn't have turned my back on that freak.

Is it bad there are probably like 10 of those freaks on my block and there are like 30 people on my block?

Jenn Thorson said...

Marvel- Possibly-- also, I think he lived with his mother well into his 30s. So I'm pretty sure Alex Trebec was overcompensating for that by getting a bit overly cocky in his game show hosting.

Jonny's Mommy- Meh, I've seen those movies too, and knew I had a really good chance of surviving because I'm 1.) not blonde, and 2.) disinclined to go investigate any strange noises. :)

PS- You must live in SOME neighborhood.

Melanie said...

Now I'm a little freaked out. I think I may have gone to high school with Drew, or possibly his clone.

Jenn Thorson said...

Melanie- Heh, did he give you one of his cards? :)

Mike said...

Awesome.

All I ever got on the bus was people that talked to themselves and ate their own boogars.

Jenn Thorson said...

Mike- Ah, I think we had more of that crowd downtown. Always an adventure! :)

chyna said...

Your making me happy we don't have a bus system that involves me on it. I just know one of those drew clones would sit next to me.

You really should practice the fake name by the way. Has to roll off the lips with not the slightest bit of hesitation. Mine was my favorite name (Samantha, Sam for short) and Strohs because it was close to my real last name. ONly drawback was having to tell my friends that if some guy asked about me that is now my name. Fun times, fun times.

Jenn Thorson said...

Chyna- It's possible to deal with the colorful humanity for one bus ride. It's when it's every day, and you know what's coming, it gets to be a strain.

And no, I'm just not good at lying. I don't do it often, and I don't feel comfortable with it, so I know I totally give myself away when I do.

Should teach me a lesson, really. But I just knew I couldn't give this guy my real name.

Samantha Strohs, Chyna, sounds either like a movie actress, a comic book heroine, or a porn star. I'm not sure which.

unfinishedrambler said...

Agree with Marvel on this one: Well-crafted ending. I hardly ever get a good punch line, I just meander on to an end and then put a sign that says "The end" in case you miss it. But you nail it almost every time, except for that one post...(just kidding, just wanted to make you go back and look through all your posts to find "that one").

Da Old Man said...

Isn't it funny how some people are like crazy folk magnets? You seem to have that superpower.
BTW, very nice new photo on your sidebar.

JD said...

birds of a feather flock together

is what my parents used to say about my ability to draw strangeness out of normal people

Jenn Thorson said...

Unfinished- Oh, I'm sure there are some not-so-good endings among my posts. I either have an idea for one, or I don't. And there are definitely those Don't days.

Da Old Man- I do-- or else I just pay a lot of attention to them, I'm not sure which. :) And thanks! Figured I'd try a new photo for a new year.

JD- Maybe they were strange to begin with? :) Let's hope. Otherwise, that is one DANGEROUS superpower.

JD at I Do Things said...

You mean Alex Trebec DOESN'T know all the answers? Wow. Jeopardy has lost its luster.

Seriously, very entertaining story. Ugh. Drew Corso dating cards? Restraining order from his own daughter? I would have walked that day, too.

JD at I Do Things

Drowsey Monkey said...

Alex Trebec is annoying...anyway, the secret to taking public transit is to be a total freak and a bitch yourself. That way people avoid you. I did it for many years :)

Chaotically Calm said...

You AB-solutely made the right decision. If you didn't decide to walk who would deliver the funny? I'm not sure Drew Corso would hook a laptop up in the crawl space.

timetheif said...

Drowseymonkey is right. lol :D

ettarose said...

Jenn, I am sorry for you. That was a definite scary guy. I could only take so much and I would have HAD to say something rude. I sometimes have this er uh little problem with my BIG mouth

Adullamite said...

So that's where my long lost brother went to!? Do you have his address perhaps?



I suppose this is the wrong time to say I like your photograph.....?

Jenn Thorson said...

JD- Hey, sorry to bring on the disillusion regarding Mr. Trebec. Ah, that's the trouble with having heroes-- always bound to be disappointing. :)

Drowsey- I was thinking more along the lines of headphones, heavy metal and a big ol' plastic cone of silence to go along with me. But your way might work, too.

Chaotically Calm- Heh, no, I suspect he wouldn't. I mean, a guy who had just found Jeopardy isn't likely to have a high speed internet connection. :)

Timethief- I'm getting an overarching sense that you Canadians on public transit are not necessarily at your most pleasant. :)

Ettarose- See, I think eventually I would have really enjoyed witnessing that. Would have been very therapeutic!

Adullamite- Let me check and see if I still have his card. :) If so, I'll pass it along to you. Heh, and thanks!

AngieSS said...

Wow, he sounds like a real winner no wonder you walked. Men like him scare me too. Remind me to tell you about the guy that gave me his, erm, social card some day. He was scary too -- in a "kept in a basement without sunshine or stimulation until adulthood" sort of way.

Your scary friend probably killed another little boy scout for his crawl space collection after being devastated by your "Alex Trebec" revelation...hehehe

Sorry, I may be a little sick and twisted myself. ;)

rethoryke said...

Ah, the Blobdens of the world, they are everywhere.

Eventually I learned to be careful about when I chose to use my fountain pens in public, because they just seemed to attract strange men. [Of course, using a fountain pen at a faculty meeting is much safer than using one at the unemployment office, which in this economy is an important bit of trivia]

I did a quick websearch, and I'm not finding that infamous last name anywhere, so maybe Mr. B had made up the last name and his hobbies in an attempt to be more interesting, but my heavens it was a strange and creepy set of conversations.

Jenn Thorson said...

Angie-- There must be some LivinginaBasement BBoard somewhere, where these guys all discuss giving out dating cards. :)

I should check the news for missing boy scouts from that timeframe.

Rhet- Seriously, my friend, WHO would MAKE UP the last name of "Blobden" and use it to get women???

wordtapestry said...

You know, I'm just reminded of the sad time when a woman (who was in my High School way back when) told me she could make an arrangement so that I could date her boyfriend.

And then went on a long, long discussion about how she'd been hit by a car and lost the twins, but with lots of rehab... she was doing ok. I made plans to move to the BIG CITY where the crazies were at least complete strangers.

My deepest, sincerest apologies to you for the existence of that weird situation. They just seem to happen, don't they?

Jenn Thorson said...

WordTapestry- Ah, they're all around us-- but at least they make for good stories, eh? :)