I know that someday you'll find better things.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Twenty-Thousand Dollar Pyramid

Cigarettes! Shoes! Crackers! Childhood memorabilia! Old tax records and love-letters!
How would you have fared as a contestant on The Pyramid?

Things You Keep in a Box
Things That Go Missing
Things You Hide
Things That Kick
Things That Get Tangled
Things That Stain
Things You Wish For

Rebecca Stead wrote a mysteriously wonderful novel called When You Reach Me. The story takes place in New York City during the fall of 1978 and the spring of 1979, which—coincidentally—was an excellent time to be born.

On the very first page, Miranda’s mother has just received notice that she’s been chosen to be a contestant on the game show $20,000 Pyramid, where two-person teams (one contestant, one celebrity) compete against other teams in a category-guessing challenge. One member invents and provides clues, and the other must try to guess the linking category.

Consequently, each chapter of the novel is titled by a different category consistent with the game show answers (questions?) but applicable to the chapter’s plot. It’s a thing of beauty, such a nice little detail for an already-amazing book.

The obsessive gene in me appreciates the organizational strategy of grouping by ‘Things….’ for there is a distinct possibility that this was the method I used when I packed for college.

Box 6: Things That End in –wear
(Note: homophones were completely acceptable. It was a different world back then.)

Lately my thoughts have been running amuck, so I’ve retracted to my comfort zone and attempted to sort them $20,000 Pyramid-style. Care to play along?

Which is bigger, a kilobyte or a megabyte?
When is it time to get the oil changed in the car?
Which remote turns on the television?
How long have these leftovers been in the fridge?
Things I can’t seem to remember!

Four years ago at an intersection I frequently cross, a woman attempted a left turn without the green arrow. She and her infant son were struck and killed by an oncoming truck. The driver had done nothing wrong, but he’ll have these deaths on his conscience for the rest of his life. How will he survive?
Things I can’t stop thinking about!

The apartment was located just north of the corporate airport. Not really an issue by day, but non-stop ruckus at night. Not to mention that the thunderous roar of the planes overhead set off at least four car alarms in the parking lot.
Living so conveniently close to the school would be a nightmare during arrival and dismissal.  Tack on an extra 15 minutes for your commute, dear, because the steady stream of cars makes it damn near impossible to make a left turn.
Things you wish you knew in advance!

In the dimly-lit bathroom of the Mexican restaurant, the woman at the sink was informing her sister of the diagnosis she’d received earlier that day. It was terminal cancer, she sobbed into her phone. I cursed my small bladder and wondered about the proper etiquette: should I remain in my stall until the woman left, or should I exit, wash my hands, and give my apologies for the interruption and for her fate?
Things you wish you weren’t there to hear!

I never had the opportunity to watch the show, but I’m definitely a fan of the concept. It’s a shame it’s been canceled, though, because I’m pretty sure I could have won the twenty-thousand dollars—as long as an obsessive person like me was in charge of writing the questions.

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