11 April 2008

from Ex Libris (Anne Fadiman), The Joy of Sesquipedalians

Our competitive fervor reached its apogee every Sunday afternoon, when we gathered around the television set for our weekly round of G.E. College Bowl. As you may remember if you are of a certain age and disposition, this was a quiz show - an honest, unrigged one - in which two teams of four students, each representing a different college, competed for scholarship money. Our family also constituted a team of four, which - I am admitting this in public for the very first time - we called Fadiman U. It was an article of faith in our home that Fadiman U. could beat any other U., and indeed, in five or six years of competition, we lost only to Brandeis and Colorado College. My father knew the answers to all the history and literature questions. My mother knew politics and sports. My brother knew science. I rarely knew anything that another member of Fadiman U. didn't know as well, but I had quicker reflexes than my parents, so sometimes I managed to bang the arm of my chair (our home-team version of pressing the College Bowl buzzer) first. Fadiman U. always yelled out the answer before Robert Earle, the M.C., could even finish asking the question. "Wing Biddlebaum is an unfortunate ex-schoolteacher. Dr. Percival is -" WHOMP! "Winesburg, Ohio!" "After being poisoned and shot several times -" WHOMP! "Rasputin!"

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