One night, when I was around 14 years old, my family and I were all gathered around the television watching Jeopardy. Despite the fact that most members of my family enjoy watching Jeopardy (we like to feel smart), this was not a nightly ritual, or even a usual occurrence. It just happened this night.
At the beginning of the game Alex Trebek was reading over the cleverly written category titles as always, when he read a title about religion. I wish I remembered the title, because I am sure that there was some brilliant play-on-words in it. Anyway, we watched intently because we knew, as you faithful Jeopardy watchers may also have noticed, that there is often a question about the LDS Church in Jeopardy's religion categories. Sure enough, there was one. It went something like this: "It is the age at which young men become Elders in the Mormon Church." None of the contestants knew the answer, which was not surprising. What was surprising, however, was that Alex and the oh-so-clever Jeopardy writers also didn't know the correct answer! The answer given was "What is 19."
Now, obviously, they are referring to missionaries, who are given the title of "Elder" once becoming a full-time missionary--and this usually occurs at the age of 19. However, young men most commonly become ordained to the office of Elder at the age of 18. I was excited that I knew something that smug little Mr. Trebek didn't, so I decided to write a letter. (At this point in the story I planned to say "The letter I wrote went something like this... and then provide an abstract account of the letter I wrote. However, I now realize that I have no idea what I wrote--but whatever it was, it was probably pretty boring and already summed up in the preceding paragraphs. So I will not say that here.)
Two weeks later, I received a postcard in the mail with a picture of Alex Trebek's giant moustache-clad face and poodlish grey hair on the front (see the above image). It might have been autographed. But I doubt it. On the back, there was a typed response to my letter. It went something like this:
Thank you for your letter.
The question you were referring to was the age at which Mormon young men become Elders. Because of your letter we have done more research and found that, as you said, Mormon young men become Elders at the age of 18. However, we also found that they receive the title of Elder at the age of 19. So technically, we are both partially right.
Thank you again for your letter.
The Jeopardy! Team
Ha! Would you have expected anything less from Jeopardy? "We're both partially right." Anything to be smarter than anyone else--including a 14 year-old boy! Oh, good times.
So that's my story.