In the green room

We all stood around getting acquainted, and then Glenn, the contestant coordinator, came to pick us up in a shuttle. They wouldn't let Tita and Kregor come along. I didn't realize it at the time that I wouldn't see them again until taping started. They drove us to the studio, and took us to the green room, which of course wasn't green. For some reason, the room where people wait before they appear in a show is always called the green room. I felt very Hollywood being in there. It wasn't very big, but it had his & hers bathrooms, an area for putting on makeup, a rack for us to hang our extra clothes on, and a couple of cubicles for changing clothes. Most of us sat around a long table, and there was also a couch and coffee table. They had coffee, soda, bottled water, and doughnuts. I never did eat anything else all day, but I drank some bottled water. I figured I'd better steer clear of the soda; burping in front of 15 million people would not be cool.

All the contestant coordinators were there: Glenn, Grant, Susanne, and Maggie, and they were all really "up" all the time. They sort of tired me out after awhile. We had to fill out a lot of paperwork, which took quite awhile. We had to fill out forms establishing our eligibility (basically swearing that neither we nor any of our family members were employed by Sony or an affiliate that carries Jeopardy!), forms stating that we would not reveal the outcome of our shows before they aired, and forms giving Alex information to chat with us about. We had to give five anecdotes, and also answer a couple of leading questions (in case they didn't think the stories we came up with were all that interesting). Glenn explained that when we agreed not to reveal the outcome, that didn't mean we couldn't tell our friends and families how we did. We just weren't supposed to tell the media.

They took us back for makeup one at a time, which I wasn't expecting. The instructions had said for women contestants to come with their makeup already applied, and to wear a darker-than-usual lipstick. I thought I'd done that, but they still put makeup on us. All of us. It was pretty funny watching the guys get made up. They put a really heavy, dark base on all of us, and did a lot of contouring. I hope the contouring works and my double chin won't show up on TV! It seemed like way too much to me, but evidently they know what they're doing. The lipstick was a lot darker than anything I would ever wear, and the girl put a lot more blush on, and over a larger area, than I would ever do.

While I was getting my makeup must've been when they gave the lecture that we weren't to have any contact with our family and friends in the audience. I swear, I never heard them say this. Apparently Tita and Kregor got the same lecture, only much more stern. They were told that they could not cheer loudly just for their friends (this was really tough for Kregor, because it meant stifling her "whoop whoop" battle cry), they couldn't speak to us, couldn't wave to us; basically they were supposed to pretend they didn't see us.

At some point we went into the studio for a quick rehearsal. They had us all practice writing our names on the screens (not as easy as it looks--I discovered after I wrote my name in cursive, and it looked like "Mig" instead of "Meg," that printing was a better choice for me), and then Glenn pretended to be Alex and we each played in groups of three for about five minutes apiece. They told us to push down on the buzzer several times when we tried to ring in, because if we've buzzed in too soon, or if someone else has beaten us to the buzzer, we'll be locked out for a period of time, and if we keep pushing, sooner or later we'll get in (unless someone has already answered the question correctly). The studio looked just like it does on TV, except a lot smaller. You get the impression on TV that there's a lot of distance between the contestants and Alex, but there's really not. It also didn't look as cheesy as I thought it would. I thought everything would look cheap up close, like a set on a play.

We headed back to the green room for awhile, and then it was time to go out for the first game. The returning champion was a guy named Jason Parker, a graduate student at the University of Florida. He had won three games the day before. He seemed like a nice guy, and no smarter than any of the rest of us. We didn't know until almost tape time who would play against Jason in the first game. The legal department makes the selections, mostly at random. Those of us who had flown in from out of town were pretty much guaranteed to play that day, but some of the people from nearby were told they might not get on that day and would have to come back on the next taping day, which wouldn't be till March 28. And obviously, whoever was the champion at the end of the day would have to come back too. To no one's surprise, Ted and Camille were picked to play in the first game.

So we all filed out and into the studio. Jason, Ted, and Camille went over to the podiums to sign in, and the rest of us took our seats in the audience, in the first two rows on the right side. When we walked in, I immediately started searching the audience for Tita, Kregor, Mike, and Julie, and spotted them pretty quickly. They were all sitting together on the second row, right across the aisle from where I wound up sitting. When I spotted them, I smiled and waved at them, and Glenn immediately said "No waving." I had no idea there was anything wrong with that, and was surprised, but complied.

Next installment: The games begin!