I have watched so many episodes of Jeopardy! over the past 21 years of my life that it is hard to keep track. The final song lives rent free in my mind, the sound of the interlude music is like a lullaby to me and the sweet, sweet sound of Alex Trebek’s calming voice is a constant sense of comfort in my life. While this might sound comical, it is all true. This piece is a love letter to Alex and everything he has done for not only me, but for all Jeopardy! viewers over the last 36 years.
No matter how complicated or messy my life got, there was always one constant: Jeopardy! Every weeknight from seven to seven-thirty, Alex Trebek would paint the face of my living room television. My dad, the trivia fiend he is, would sit down in his TV chair and not move until the show was over. No exceptions. My plans for the night revolved around this 30-minute time slot. If I needed to be picked up from soccer practice, I had to wait for Jeopardy! to be over. If I needed my Dad’s help with math homework, I had to wait till Jeopardy! was finished. If I was hungry and wanted dinner, I had to wait until Jeopardy! was done.
Alex Trebek is a man I have looked up to for years. He has been a part of my life since the beginning and had an even greater impact on my life than I would have ever thought. He was intelligent, poised, funny, understanding and had an incredible crowd presence. He encouraged me to seek out knowledge and learn everything I could about the world. He made me feel like being a geek was okay, and that being smart was cool.
One of my earliest memories revolves around Jeopardy!. My family was on vacation watching the show one night when my dad did the impossible, he got every single question correct. My mother was amazed, my uncle shocked and little four-year-old Katy thought he was a god. But alas, the ruse was up. It was later found out that the episode was a rerun and he had watched it earlier that morning when he couldn’t sleep. This didn’t stop my astonishment though, and from that moment forward, I wanted to be able to answer the questions with the same amount of confidence that he had. I wanted to be the cool nerd that knew all the trivia answers about Renaissance painters, US cities’ nicknames or tough crossword puzzle clues. I wanted to be smart enough to go neck and neck with the contestants in front of the Great Alex Trebek himself.
Throughout his career, Alex had many iconic moments. From flawlessly rapping the stylings of the Notorious B.I.G and Lil Wayne, to his ruthless roasts of contestants and their fun fact, every day Alex walked onto that stage with his signature swagger and a smile on his face, ready to get the show going. Even after he was first diagnosed, his announcement was calm and positive. He reassured his audience that he was going to keep fighting the disease and hosting Jeopardy! The show was not only a job to him, but a family – a community of people that loved and supported him throughout his life and especially during his battle with cancer. He stayed optimistic and put on a brave face for his fans until the very end.
Alex Trebek has done amazing things over his life, especially while being the host of Jeopardy! for the last 36 years. He will be greatly missed around the world, but especially on my television at home. I no longer know what I will do with that 30 minutes that I spent with Mr. Trebek every day, but I sure hope it is something that would make him proud.