My mother-in-law Betty sometimes expresses the view that I ought to audition for the TV show “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” I think that’s because I seem to be able to answer many of the questions most people find difficult or obscure. I watched a few minutes of the show with her today and got a good example of what’s really going on.
I was way ahead of one contestant right from the start, blurting out answers before the answer choices were even displayed. Then came the question that stopped me cold. It had to do with a recurring sketch character on a late-night talk show. I was dead in the water.
I know a lot of things found in books, but I almost never watch TV. I spend a lot of time online, but I almost never go to the movies. I’m a singer and jazz fan, but I almost never listen to the radio. The result is that I have a head that is full of uncommon knowledge and surprisingly lacking in what most people consider common knowledge. I doubt I’d make it to the million dollar question on TV. An ordinary question having to do with TV or movies or sports would trip me up.
If I were running for political office (I’m not, thank you, Jesus) that could be spun as “out of touch with ordinary Americans.” That’s what happened to George H.W. Bush in 1992 when he was caught on camera in a supermarket and it became clear that he’d never seen a grocery scanner before.
I always thought Bush was shielded from common knowledge by his money, but maybe it’s really his disposition. It’s certainly not money that keeps me from turning on the TV.
But for that millionaire TV show, I’d need to find a popular culture junkie ready to take a phone call from Meredith at the critical moment. Hmmmmmmmm…..