What is “late for school?” by
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I vaguely remember my grandmother watching this amazingly sad (and to me, rather sick) game show called “Queen For a Day.” Even then, the idea of competing for the title of “Most Screwed By Life” seemed bizarre.

The problem with Jeopardy was that it ended at 12:30 PM

But for me, growing up, my obsession was “Jeopardy.” The problem with Jeopardy was that it ended at 12:30 PM, and that is exactly when I was expected to be back at school. I developed a routine of standing in the open doorway of our living room as Art Fleming read the Final Jeopardy question and the theme music counted down the time. As soon as the answer was revealed (I didn’t care who won) I’d be out the door, down the hall and dashing the three blocks to PS #4.

I wasn’t very late, but I was late, an affront to order and discipline. So after a couple of days of this, I was reported to my parents. My Mom went to talk to them. I wasn’t there, and don’t know what was said, but from then on, my being two minutes past the bell because of Jeopardy was never mentioned again.

In 1970 I started high school, and that was the end of my Jeopardy habit.

Profile photo of Dave Ventre Dave Ventre
A hyper-annuated wannabee scientist with a lovely wife and a mountain biking problem.

Tags: jeopardy, "game show", "Art Fleming"
Characterizations: funny, well written


  1. Great title, and great story, Dave…thanks!

    In writing the copy for this prompt, we admins were chuckling about Queen for a Day. It’s hard to believe there was actually an Applause-o-Meter to measure the audience’s response to the most heart-wrenching story.

  2. Khati Hendry says:

    Great story. We kids were enthralled by Queen for a Day (when we were 6 or 7 years old…)–it seemed so dramatic and moving and wonderful when someone won–but my mother hated it, and I understand why. It was really predatory of the most tear-jerking story they could elicit from the contestants. So glad it died, but reality TV doesn’t fall far from that tree.

  3. Betsy Pfau says:

    Dave, I am with you 100%. I never understood the appeal of having the best sob story, but always loved Jeopardy. As I mentioned in my story, I’d be drying my long hair before class in college, but would never get to see Final Jeopardy. I think your parents were smart to negotiate with your school so you could see the end of the program and not be marked tardy by two minutes . Jeopardy was much more valuable than taking attendance!

    • Dave Ventre says:

      Mom wasn’t big on negotiation. She was more of a browbeating and intimidation sort of person. She worked similar magic on a librarian who tried to restrict me to the books in the “YP” section of our local library.

  4. Marian says:

    Your mom was very cool, Dave, and I think you must have learned a lot by watching Jeopardy!. I, too, remember the noontime slot it had back in the day.

  5. Laurie Levy says:

    Looks like many of us share a love for Jeopardy. So glad your Mom was able to work something out with your teacher so you could watch it. Both wise women as you probably learned a lot from the show.

  6. Suzy says:

    Good story, Dave, and, as others have said, glad you were allowed to watch Final Jeopardy without being marked tardy. Would love to know what your mother said to the teacher.

  7. Risa Nye says:

    I have a Queen for a Day Story! And yes, what a bizarre premise for a show. The host was kind of sleazy, as I recall. The whole thing was pretty cheesy. But a college roommate’s mother actually won!

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