"Yeah. Each hurdle has its set of challenges. Like, after Thanksgiving with the turkey and the family and all that, you have the whole gift-buying thing and the tree and the wrapping. The worst is, you gotta find parking. And it could be snowing or sleeting. It's really somethin'."

"It is that, that's for sure. Have some more coffee while I talk to Gene. Gene, what's the latest?"

"Jim, an unfortunate accident has befallen I Don't Have a Clue. He tried to buy a turkey with a coupon, but he went to the wrong store. Muttering inaudibly, he left the store and, presumably because he was distracted, he didn't see an empty grocery cart speeding right at him. It banged into him, causing minor injuries to his right wrist - his credit-card-swiping wrist."

"Ohhh. That's a blow."

"Yes, it is, Jim."

"What's he going to do?"

"Well, they're looking at him now. He could get back in this thing, but I think this is a serious setback to whatever hopes he might have had of even completing this ordeal, let alone of emerging a winner."

"I'll say. How's the rest of the field?"

"It's hard to say at this point. It's still very early, and anything can happen. My In-laws Are Coming, as you know, is the favorite. There's a lot of pressure to perform, but experts say that pressure is precisely what you need for victory in something like this. Of course, Festive Partygoer is always a wild card, kind of winging it - and that carefree style could just be the thing that helps smooth the way toward a triumph. You just never know."

"Thanks, Gene. Final thoughts, Sam?"

"Yeah. The thing to remember is, it's a marathon. The key to winning is to stay in the spirit of the thing. Which reminds me, you know that coffee? It goes great - burp - with Kahlúa."