J Words For $600

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A young friend and a former, mild-mannered reporter for a not-so major metropolitan newspaper appeared on the TV show “Jeopardy!” a couple weeks back. I knew he had brains but had no idea how much crap, er, trivia, was in his head, too.  He was crushing it halfway through the second round.

Now, of course, you watch “Jeopardy!” mostly to feel superior the odd time you know an answer before the contestant buzzes in. Or, best of all, you nail your own Daily Double, that’s when you know the answer and nobody on the show does.  You say pffff or ha, these idiots.

But I did not take great joy or burst with disdain when my guy, who was on a roll, suddenly swung and missed on an easy one.  At least I thought it was a piece of cake at the time.

Ok, you wanna play?  Got your hand on the buzzer?

The category was “J” Words – words that begin with the letter J. 

My guy says, Alex give me J Words for $600. Alex reads the answer: “One theory derives this word from the name of a Mexican town where many used, dilapidated American cars were sent.”

And the answerer is?  (Don’t forget — in the form of a question!).  If you said, “What is Juarez?” like my guy, you lose 6 million pesos. The answer, of course, is jalopy. And if you’re over the age of 40 you probably got that one right.  In fact, you’ve probably owned a jalopy or two.

My guy’s answer really spoke to his youth rather than lack of knowledge. I spoke to him after the show aired and he said he still never heard of a jalopy and was just grateful he didn’t blurt out “jalapeno.”

A few weeks back I mentioned a couple of cars of mine that could qualify for the Jalopy Hall Of Disaster. My lemons brought back some memories for readers from the good old days – the days when your greatest hope wasn’t to play in the Major Leagues or become President. Your greatest hope was your car would start. 

One guy told me his friend had a car that would only turn right. They'd have to figure out a course, to get where they were going, only making right turns.  When I relayed this tale to another friend she asked if the car could only make right turns or was it the driver?  She added she still doesn’t like left turns, herself.

One family owned a Delta 88.  “It was like a Delta 12” by the time we were through with it, a buddy said.  They had to replace door panels and the hood and didn’t care that the colors didn’t match. “By the end, we were calling it The Quilt.”

Another guy owned a car with no reverse gear.  Everything was cool except when it came to parallel parking. And, of course, there were plenty of people who told me they painted their car with house paint. You could see the brush strokes. It was a classy era.

Everybody had a car story. A now long-married couple told me about the time they went to a concert and came out to find their car gone from the big parking lot. They called the cops to report it stolen and described the dented yellow Pinto with a green door and said it had a bad clutch and you had to push it to get started.

The cop said, your car’s not stolen. Keep looking.

Kinda funny that my young “Jeopardy!” friend lost $600 on Japoly – that was way more than we spent on some of ours.

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