Who Is Neil Armstrong?

This past Saturday evening, following Mass, Bill and I went to one of the WC restaurants for dinner. Seated next to us was a group of four people — two elderly couples — who had also just come from the Catholic Mass. I hate to admit to eavesdropping, but what can I say? The tables were close together.

Anyhoo, one of the fellows told the other couple this story: “I have sisters who are identical triplets. One of my sisters had a child out of wedlock. She gave the baby girl up for adoption. The other day, we were watching Jeopardy! and she was one of the contestants.”

The woman from the other couple’s response?

“I like Jeopardy!” she said, enthusiastically.

I could hardly keep from laughing. There is an old saying that you buried the lede. In this case, he gave the lede — in fact, many ledes, right up front. He had sisters who were identical sisters in the days before multiple births were commonplace. He had a sister who had a child outside of marriage some 50 years ago when that still made people gasp. She gave the baby up for adoption, something that was probably heartbreaking for the sister. Finally, unexpectedly, said baby — now an adult — surprisingly shows up on a popular television show.

None of those facts, however, made the people look up from their chicken pot pies in shock. Their only takeaway was that he spoke about a TV show that they all watch as they drink their Manhattans in front of the television while digesting their 4:30 meal.

The rest of the conversation — at least the part that I heard prior to convincing myself that my mother was right and one should not eavesdrop — was about how they can never get all of the answers to the Jeopardy, even when it’s a subject about which they know a lot. They all felt that they would be too nervous.

I wonder if the contestant who was the babe born of a young girl, one of triplets, and brought up by adoptive parents would have been nervous knowing that her blood uncle was watching her from afar. She may have had a feeling, because after all of their exclamations about the joys of Jeopardy, he admitted that his estranged niece didn’t do all that well on the game show.

I guess after living through wars and assassinations and seeing men walking on the moon, and all manner of life-changing history, it’s nice just to concentrate on questions like This man was the first human to walk on the moon, and know the answer is who is Neil Armstrong.