I could probably say a lot of things about Alex Trebek.
The iconic host, best known for “Jeopardy!” (although you should really check out his hosting of “Double Dare” from the 1970s and the 1990s reboot of “To Tell the Truth” if you haven’t) died Sunday surrounded by family from complications with pancreatic cancer.
I have a somewhat enduring connection with Mr. Trebek. He is a personal hero of mine.
Since the third grade, before I even knew what journalism was, before I knew really anything about the world, I wanted to be one thing: a game show host.
To be honest, I still hold on to this dream.
There are a lot of game show hosts I have looked up to. For one, Monty Hall, the original “Let’s Make a Deal” host. Gene Rayburn of “Match Game.” Bob Barker ... because who doesn’t? And, of course, Alex Trebek.
After watching them, I just felt this was the right thing for me to do.
Since there was no formal training to becoming a game show host, no “Introduction to Wheel Spinning” or “Bonus Rounds 101,” I took it upon myself to prepare for the job through independent study.
What this essentially means is that I spent most of my time watching any game show I could find, from any decade of American television, and attempting to be the best contestant at it.
Not to brag, but I got pretty darn good at a lot of them.
“Family Feud,” “Weakest Link” and “Press Your Luck” really ranked high on my skill level, but still none of them trumped the classic, the ideal game show: “Jeopardy!”
I remember my first ever right answer when watching “Jeopardy!” I was being baby-sat by my grandma. I must have been 5 or 6 years old. The category was about animals, and lucky for me another obsession I had was “Animal Planet,” which I also watched religiously.
The answer was about an echidna and this other marsupial that lays eggs, to which I proudly shouted out: “What is platypus?”
My grandma was so impressed.
After that, I continued my “studies,” figuring the best preparation for my hosting career was by sitting and counting my own scores during each episode.
Still, this was not enough for me, and eventually it transformed into a more elaborate process. I started hosting my own version of “Jeopardy!” in my garage, complete with a huge whiteboard and real buzzers — a difficult find, but I was dedicated.
Pouring through dozens of quiz books and cards from old versions of Trivial Pursuit, my sister and I were able to make full-length game shows to host and play. And lucky for me, we had a willing family to be our contestants, especially my father.
My father and I do not have a lot in common. I am not really into sports like he is, nor could we hold a five-minute conversation about politics without being at each other’s throat.
But, without fail, we always had a 30-minute bonding time at 7:30 p.m. EST with Mr. Trebek as our moderator.
I watched “Jeopardy!” with my dad almost every night up until I moved to Greenwood from Tampa earlier this year.
In fact in 2016, my freshman year of college, I actually left the first-year student celebration and class photo so I could watch the last episode of the Teachers Tournament with him.
I walked through sideways Florida rain and gusty winds back to my car so I could be there to see who became the champion, but also mostly to crush my father in any category about pop culture, U.S. history or vocabulary (although I will confess he gets back at me during the sports and geography categories).
I still find it hard to explain the effect that the show and Alex Trebek’s hosting has had on me. I loved all the experiences I had with the show and his hosting, and I solemnly send my thoughts to his family and close friends.
I feel the only proper way to end this is to print the words that he had planned to say to his devoted viewers, but never got to.
“Don’t ask me who’s going to replace me because I have no say whatsoever. But I’m sure that if you give them the same love and attention and respect that you have shown me ... then they will be a success and the show will continue being a success. And until we meet again, God bless you and goodbye.”
• Contact Adam Bakst at 581-7233 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @AdamBakst_GWCW