Trivia was king in the Leonardos’ roost.
Melody Leonardo, the eldest daughter, made it all the way to Fresno to try out for the celebrated long-running trivia show with the host, Alicia Tribeca. She was a sure shoe-in to make it on the show, surpassing her peers after each level, for she was fed trivia questions when she was in her mother’s womb.
Her mother was a waitress at the local coffee shop and her father sold appliances at the mall, so she did not come from an upstanding intellectual household. However, her parents huddled in front of the TV every night to catch the trivia show at 7 p.m., competing with each other for the right answers as if they were on the show themselves. Her mother would bring books and cheat sheets to work and hide them in her apron and would study the answers on her break, and her father would do the same.
This shared obsession was what kept their marriage exciting. When the two children came, the more, the merrier. It became their family identity and they wore their crest proudly.
One day, as her mother was pouring a cup of coffee for Matt Lockhard, an independent California insurance agent, she helped him with a difficult crossword clue that boggled him for hours and was stunned to hear the lofty, unexpected knowledge come out of a waitress at a tiny coffee shop.
“How did you know that?” Matt asked her.
“What? Just because I wear this uniform doesn’t make me stupid,” she answered with a smile.
“Just between you and me, I received my master’s in linguistics from Harvard but addiction took over my life, so that’s why I am here. But don’t tell anyone, OK?” she said in jest as she teasingly nudged him with her elbow and the coffee pot in the other hand.
“Besides, my Melody is going to be on Alicia Tribeca’s game show tryouts tomorrow!” she said proudly and loud enough for the whole diner to hear. Everyone applauded.
But when the time came, Melody was beat out by some uppity surfer kid.
“How did that happen?” Melody asked her parents. “I studied every waking minute!”
“It is the luck of the draw, sweetie,” her father said, “and in real life, that is the way it is. You can’t possibly know all the answers no matter how much you try. But what matters, is that you love to learn just like us. You’re one of us, Melody. Melody Leonardo, Da Vinci, Da Great!”
The Leonardos all huddled together as Melody silently wept and laughed.
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