September 1, 2009

Lovely Parting Gifts

On every Wheel of Fortune, contestants are urged by Pat Sajak to “tell a little something about yourself”.

I am Hiram P. Nicowitz (fake name) and I am happily married to my lovely wife Ethel, and we have two beautiful children, Buddy and Beverly.

This strikes me as ridiculous. Contestants are coached when speaking before the Big Wheel.

Who would go on the show and say, Hello I’m Reginald Fitzwater (fake name) and I’m here with my gnomish troll (or trollish gnome) of a wife, Hildegard, and our two hideous children, Fester and Lilith.

Husband has a good memory for facts, so we've tried to get on shows.

Perennial TV personality Wink Martindale hosted a game show called Tic Tac Dough that was fun to watch, fast-paced, and as competitive as Jeopardy. While living in Tampa, both Husband and I applied to be on the show.

Tic, Tac, Dough producers mailed a questionnaire, which we completed individually. We both were selected to attend a test date in a large auditorium with 500 other people.

Amazing. We made the cut to the final fifty.

We were convinced this was our Big Break, our trip to fame and fortune, and nerd heaven.

However, the third round was not a trivia test.

It was a personality test.

We were coached going into the final and most important round. Two contestants from the Tampa trials would be selected for the Big Show, the one with all the prizes.

The producers asked us to think of the most interesting things about ourselves. Hmmm? I was 27 years old and I had nothing.

Husband shook Robert F. Kennedy’s hand just a few days before RFK’s death. RFK was in Indiana for the May primary and his motorcade drove down Highway 37 and stopped in front of Duckcreek-Boone Elementary School. My husband and his fifth grade class met Kennedy.

Alas, the producers did not think that anecdote so interesting. We lost to a man who coached Wade Boggs in Little League. In my despondent state, I did not catch the other person’s story.

Years passed but Husband always had that drive to be on a game show. Taking a trip to New York City for our twentieth wedding anniversary, Husband decided to try out for Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.

We walked to the ABC “will call” window on the Upper West Side. They gave me the test, also. I did not pass, but Husband sailed through.

A producer took a Polaroid picture and interviewed him, and told him it was a long shot because they were looking for diversity. About every other person was a bearded middle-aged Midwestern male who looked like a reference librarian. Bring in the ancient Volvo and the scruffy tweed jacket with leather-patched sleeves, and you have yourself a stereotype. He was not chosen.

A local broadcast station had its own show. Husband was chosen as a contestant shortly after we came back from New York. My fact-gatherin’ genius was on the show.

He answered a number of questions correctly, But then came, “How many women have won the million dollars on Who Wants to be a Millionaire?”

He said zero. The answer was one.

He was escorted out and given lovely parting gifts, a Channel 14 hat, an ice scraper, and a big dose of humble pie.

Now in our dotage we sit in our basement and watch Alex Trebek in high definition. If only…..quoth the raven.