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Twenty Days of Happiness Part 16: That Time I Was On Wheel of Fortune

There’s a scene in A Muppet Family Christmas where Ernie and Burt (from Sesame Street) have a conversation with Doc (from Fraggles) and Ernie and Burt can’t help pointing out what letter every word begins with.  “Bunk beds: B words!” they say as Ernie chortles.  When Doc looks at them askance they explain, “Where we come from, this is small talk.”  My sister once said that the scene reminded her of our family — except that complaining, not letters, are our family’s small talk.  It’s not that we are unhappy people.  We just like to air our grievances.  But sometimes it’s good to air positive feelings too and that’s just what I plan to do.  In this 20-part series, I focus on the many reasons I have to be happy.


Look Mom, We’re On TV!

At this time two years ago, I was working long hours at the Los Angeles office of a law firm that was in a downward spiral.  Objectively, I knew I was lucky to have a “good” job where I had many friends.  But the constant undercurrent of negativity that existed because of the firm’s precarious financial situation was still taking a toll.  In the evenings, I would put my son to bed and switch on the TV just as Wheel of Fortune came on.  I would call out letters and puzzle solutions and think to myself, “I could totally do this.”  I imagined winning big in the Bonus Round and using my winnings to fund a move back to the East Coast.

Finally, I visited the Wheel of Fortune website and filled in the contestant application.  A few months later, I got an email inviting me to an audition.  In small print, the email said that I was welcome to bring a friend along and audition as a team.  I invited my husband.  We called out letters, jumped up and down and clapped, then held our breath as the names of those who made it to the final round of auditions were announced.  We made the cut and had the chance to play a simulated game.  Again, we enunciated and smiled, but we failed to solve a single puzzle. Surely a bad sign?

Months passed.  One day as I was sitting in my office, I came to the decision that it was time to give notice and move back to the East Coast — with or without the benefit of game show winnings (and without my next job lined up). A few weeks later, the movers came and packed up our apartment.  My son and I took a cross-country flight while my husband and the dog made the long drive in our car.

We took time off.  We traveled.  We spent time with family. Eventually, I found a job in Boston and we moved again.  We found a great apartment.  My job was interesting.  My son and husband were happy. Life was good.

Then, just before Christmas, I checked my voice-mail and heard the familiar click, click, click of the big wheel.  “Hi, this is Gary from Wheel of Fortune.  Please give me a call back.” For the next hour, I debated whether the message was an elaborate scam to obtain my personal information.  Surely, it couldn’t actually be a legitimate call from The Wheel of Fortune after all this time. But, in the end, my curiosity won out.

And that is how – last month – my husband and I found ourselves on a plane headed back to L.A. for the first time in more than a year.

Our episode airs this Monday, February 15.

To Be Continued . . .


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