Everyman’s Death

It’s legit unseemly.

Our being ‘gutted’ and whatnot by the deaths of people we don’t know.

Still, there is John Donne and there is continuity and there is in the end … us.

Well, there ought to be but we usually skip not to the end — that bell tollling for we.

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Also unseemly is hijacking an event to say something about ourselves.

But that’s the cynical read — like seeing condescension as a bad thing.

When one dies and another recalls it shd be seen as a hurrah for both.

It’s a try at connection, remembrance, soothing — tho p’raps too soon.

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So here’s mine.

I didn’t know him, nor he me, though he did come out and say hello to all of us taking the test to try out for the show.

I was in college. At the time the mode was a test, score high enough — 85%? I don’t recall. Maybe 95.

Then you actually do a test run with a show manager of some kind — I recall his name was Kirk — and you got to go to the actual stage and he said, literally pretty much exactly said,

Now, here’s the most important thing — if you think you’re right and Alex is wrong … don’t argue. We’re filming. There’s an audience. It’s live. Do not dispute an answer. If the judges make a mistake, they’ll get commercial break time to correct it. Do not argue with Alex.

You’re way ahead of me.

As I was of myself that day.

Kirk tested us with answers.

I gave a question to one —

Who are Abbott + Costello?

No, he said, it was —

Who are The Three Stooges?

I was positive. Certain. Mouthy.

Da and I had watched A+C religiously on Saturdays when I was a kid; he disliked the Stooges. For all I knew on that stage, both owned the bit … and now that YouTube exists, ’tis manifest they did.

Sigh.

But of course it wasn’t my father’s preference for words over actions — the punning and misdirection of Bud + Lou over the slapstick physicality of … the other guys.

It was that I cldnt shut up.

+

The show — its ‘college’ competition — needed national geographic diversity with a smidge of rivalry.

Guy they chose from USC had driven his Corvette out from North Carolina.

They called and asked me to be an alternate. $250. Pretty good money in those days for doing nothing; only hadda go, sit, wait, if anyone got sick or dropped out, I’d be in.

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I went and nobody got sick, or decided not to make a lot of money.

Everyone onscreen got a thousand bucks, I think.

Top three winners kept their haul?

Nobody argued with Alex.

+

Honestly thought we were just talking.

Friends chattering.

Robust converse.

+

Not the first time.

Can’t be accidental he emphasized the ‘shut up’ rule with me.

Not the last time.

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Mr. Trebek was, is, seemed to this manifest outsider literally ignorant of the man himself, a good guy.

Kind, swell, calm.

Shared our times.

Brought pleasant.

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Requiescat in pace

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