This evening, Mary Ellen and I discussed how hosts chat with “Jeopardy!” contestants, prompting a quirky personal story between rounds. My wife Mary Ellen said if she ever got on the show, she’d have trouble coming up with five entertaining anecdotes, assuming she won every night for a week. Together, we crafted some fun ones. Her responses here are all true.
Host Ken Jennings: I understand you had an embarrassing nickname in school.
Mary Ellen: In the fourth grade, I was 5-foot-7 — much taller and skinnier than anyone else in the class.
Ken: So, what did they call you?
Mary Ellen: The Galloping Hairpin.
Ken: Tell us about meeting your husband.
Mary Ellen: A co-worker asked me to have dinner with her and several friends. One of those friends was Dick Wolfsie, who sat across from me. We never talked or even exchanged glances. Three years later, we were fixed up on a blind date. We’d been married two years before we realized the blind date wasn’t the first time we met.
Ken: You made a really big impression on each other.
Ken: I understand that on your honeymoon, you had an embarrassing experience.
Mary Ellen: My husband and I returned from dinner to our hotel in Big Sur, Calif. It was 2 a.m. and we figured no one would be in the pool. We decided to meet there without any clothes on. But we both chickened out and showed up in our swimsuits. In the pool area were about 40 people, completely naked, staring at us.
Ken: What did they say?
Mary Ellen: They said, “You must be from the Midwest.”
Ken: I was told your husband’s long TV career was the result of your banning a stray dog from your house.
Mary Ellen: Dick found a lost beagle on our front porch, but he was very mischievous and destructive. The beagle, that is. I told Dick if he wanted to keep the dog, he had to take him to work with him every morning. He did, and Barney ended up on TV with Dick and became a star — the dog, I mean. I take all the credit for Barney’s success.
Ken: Did you marry your husband because you thought he was going to be a college professor?
Mary Ellen: When we met, he had just taken an associate producer position at a TV station in Columbus, Ohio. He hated the job, so I figured he would go back to teaching. You know, do something serious with his life.
Ken: So, did he end up doing something serious?
Mary Ellen: Not hardly. But he did it for 40 years. I’ll give him that.
What if I got a spot on “Jeopardy!”? Find out next week.