What is the measure of a man? The truest testament of his achievements. What one thing exists that sums up the totality of his successes, his assets, his uniqueness? Some would say it is his biography. Some say his epitaph. Some say it is the memories of his family. Some say his greatness shows in the type of person his children turn out to be. All of those people are idiots. The real answer is clear, concise, and pithy. It is simple, and it fills an otherwise lifeless space between rounds with human interest. The answer is… the game show card.
Don’t know what I mean? Tune to the game show network. Ever since the dawn of time, when Wink Martendale was just a creepy, sweater wearing preteen, it has been a staple of the day time lineup. The host gets up close and personal with the contestant, chats them up, and refers to the pocket sized cheat sheet given to him by the producers that lists off the facts that might interest the viewing public. “It says here you enjoy knitting, and once competed in the Boston marathon…” Sometimes they hand the card to the announcer before the show. “Meet Guy Thurston, Professor of Modern Art at Cal Tech, he holds the state record for Double Dutch and has an interesting collection of yarn…” But it is always there. The essence of the contestant’s very soul. The cliff notes of his or her life.
Pay attention to what is said. They typically only have room for two or three highlights, so you’ve got to believe those are the most quintessential of facts. Whether they are chosen during an interview or scribbled on an application, intense though surely went into their selection and wording. And yet, something mundane turns up occasionally. “It says here you have a cat named Fluff.” That was the best thing about that person? One contestant on the Wheel of Fortune actually had this stellar achievement on his card: Can make chicken noises. He proceeded to fill the WHOLE segment with a clucked version of the Wheel of Fortune theme. You could actually hear the bottom of the barrel being scraped. Really, if you think about it, they are going to have to eventually end up with someone for whom being on the show is itself the only highlight. “So, it says here that you are here right now. That’s super.”
Some shows let the contestants come back. This leads to the second game show card. The lesser achievements show up. Rarely, a third showing offers an additional glimpse. Sometimes, the lucky player just keeps coming back. Such was the case of Ken Jennings’ famous record setting run on Jeopardy. Sure, he made a ton of cash and got to be a national sensation for a while, but man. Those cards started getting dull. They were just a spiral of mediocrity. After 10 or 12 shows, Alex Trebec was hitting rock bottom. “So… it says here that you…. have thumbs.” There was actually a point where Trebec said, “Well, we know everything about you. Is there anything you want to ask me?” I learned that Alex Trebec ate candy for breakfast that day. Neat.
I think that the Game show card is far too often overlooked. We should pay close attention, because that is where the truth lies. Before you do anything, ask yourself, “Would this make it on the card?” If it wouldn’t, try aiming higher. Never know, tomorrow you might die, and as you stand before god to be judged, he just may pull out a card and say, “Well, it says her you once drop kicked a rabbit. Let’s hear about that.” And you will have learned too late that your eternal soul rested on the testimony of a 4×5 card.