Who wants to be a millionaire? Anyone? Everyone? For ten years I wanted to get on the TV show of the same name. I called, tested, hoped, and waited for their invitation. And each time my husband hid the disappointing postcard when it arrived.
Then in October 0f 2009 my phone rang, and a perky voice asked if I would be available in two weeks to sit in the “hot seat.” Hmmm . . . let me check my schedule. I began cramming triva into my brain like I was back in college. Here’s just a sampling of my materials:
At 7:00 a.m. on the appointed day, I huddled in the bright November sunshine with a gaggle of fellow contestants on West Sixty-Sixth Street in New York City. Once inside ABC Studios, we marched into the “green room” to wait. Good news: breakfast, snacks, and lunch were provided. Bad news: we could not study while waiting, and had no idea in what order the twelve of us would be chosen. Each time an aide paused at the doorway, we snapped to attention in military precision. Finally I heard my name called. It was five p.m.
I trotted down multiple flights of stairs to the stage. The host today was not Meredith Viera, but Regis Philbin. I strode toward him, beaming. He beamed back. We chatted a bit, and I zipped through the first five questions. Next Larry King’s face appeared on the monitor. I don’t follow personal lives of the stars, so sensed trouble when King asked me to whom Michael Jackson had entrusted his children in his will. Jackson had been close with Brooke Shields (young, able to be a caregiver for a long time) and Diana Ross. Brooke, I thought, but to be sure, I asked the audience, who informed me it was Ross. Uh-oh.
I now know the real purpose for commercials: it is for game show contestants to wrestle into submission the hot air balloon that used to be their brain. After the break, more questions followed. I used another lifeline. The expert wasn’t sure. I guessed, and got it. On yet another break, Regis leaned over conspiratorially. “Don’t burn your lifelines,” he advised. I tried to keep a cheerful front, but knew his advice was right on the money, pun intended.
(To be continued.)