Monday, March 9, 2009

I'm a Wheel Watcher. Well, I used to be.

I grew up watching the Wheel of Fortune with my Maw Maw Gautreaux and then with my parents, so when my Heather invited me to go try out for the show, I said, "Why the heck not?" After an hour-and-a-half on the freeway, we arrived in the back of beyond, a/k/a Casino Morongo, which springs up out of the desert at you with alarming suddenness. Pulling into the parking lot, we saw this beacon of hope:

We had to wander through the casino for a while, trying to figure out their convulted system for getting a tryout slot. Looooonnnng story short, we were in the second group of people to try out (along with HUNDREDS of others) and we got nifty blue wristbands. They said to come back at 6 to line up, so we did. We passed hundreds of people with yellow wrist bands (the loser third group with a stinky 9:00 p.m time slot) and then we kept walking, and walking, and walking, trying to find our line. And we walked and walked and walked some more. It was like being a pioneer if they had hung out in smoke-filled casinos. We found the line, and walked (I won't even write how many "walks" it took, but just maybe visualize "walked" to the tenth power) past the looooonnnng line of people who got in line BEFORE six, and finally wound our way out of the building to the very end of the line. Maybe a hundred people ended up in line behind us, which sounds like a lot until you realize there were ten times that many people in front of us. This is Heather and I waiting outside. Don't let the idyllic background fool you. The freezing desert wind out there was a marginal improvement over waiting in the smoky casino, but not by much.

The line below winds around a long wall, through the entire massive casino, and all the way to the entrance doors of the huge tower you see in the background.
Finally, after an hour of waiting and losing sensation in our extremities, we got to squeeze into a ballroom with all the other hopefuls in our group:We shared space with ladies like the one below. If she turned around, you would see one of those black bars over her face for those Glamour magazine "Fashion Don't" photos. I like the look myself. I like the visible hot pink bra straps underneath her racer back shirt, but I definitely think the Camel cigarettes tucked into her left boot are the winning touch. Fashion don't? Ha! Why wouldn't you?

On the way into the ballroom, we all dropped our applications (a 5x7 square of paper that asked us to list our favorite hobbies, our passions, and describe what makes us two lines. Two very short lines) into a box, and they were dumped into this big gold spinner drum:
Then they randomly pulled names out and called them in batches of five for the opportunity to spin the fake wheel for some cheesy W of F swag (fanny pack, anyone?) and play a speed round on this lovely board:

The white spaces are paper, and "Road Vanna" writes the letters in with a Sharpie. Nice.

Anyway, if your name was called, you were supposed to run up with all this enthusiasm, answer Road "Pat Sajak's" questions about your interests and hobbies with all this enthusiasm, join the other four players with all this enthusiasm, and then call out your letter guesses for the puzzle with all this enthusiasm. You want to know why? Because they evaluate you based on your "natural enthusiasm", not your puzzle-solving skills.

I had two favorite contestants. First, was "Emo Chick." She had those big old stretcher thingies in her ear lobes, jet black hair, and a black t-shirt that said "XXX" on it. Total Wheel material, if you ask me. They could tap a completely new demographic. Anyway, here's pretty much a verbatim transcript of her interview.

Host: So, Bonita, what do you do?
Emo Chick: I'm a student.
Host: That's great. What are you studying.
EC: Art. (She sounds kinda surly).
Host: What kind of art.
EC: Drawing.
Host: What do you like to draw?
EC: (shrugs) Mostly stuff like I like.
Host: Okay...what kind of stuff?
EC: I don't know.
Host: (jovially) How about a little more enthusiasm, play to the crowd, you know?
EC: No. I'm shy.

Uh-huh. Exactly what they're looking for, I think.

My second favorite contestant was in a group that got this puzzle. The clue was "Phrase."


Anyway, when it got to this one lady, she called out, "Ropes and dreams!!!"
Yep, that was it, lady.

Only about 40 people got called out of the hundreds in our room and we didn't even win the lame door prize, but doing all that people watching? So worth it. And they say they keep our apps on file and may email us in a couple of months to tryout anyway. We'll see. I need to win a minivan so it's easier to convince my husband we're ready to have another baby, because clearly, a minivan is all we'll need to accommodate a whole 'nother kid.

Here are Heather and I, smiling bravely through our disappointment at not being called up:
Our students always got us confused when we used to teach across the hall from each other. we definitely look like twins when I have my glasses on, too.

P.S. You should read this book. It has marauding rattlesnakes and suspenseful explosions!


Kazzy said...

I am sure getting the day together was a decent consolation prize though, huh? So sorry about the disappointment. When we lived in LA we tried out for Win, Lose or Draw, which was a bust. However, I don't remember any women in line ahead of me with horrible stretch pants. Blech.

CaJoh said...

I hope that experience doesn't stop you from watching the show. I guess they have to somehow narrow down the field. At least it didn't rain (which is what I had to stand in line with on Saturday).

Glad you had fun.

DeNae said...

Goodness, if I'd known you were taking my picture, I would have turned around, hiked up my pink bra, and said 'cheese'!

My kids are always telling me I should go out for that show. Now I know why I can't; I'd make Emo chick look like a Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader. There is something about people insisting I be perky that brings out the WMD in me.

Sorry you didn't even get the lovely parting gifts. Now we HATE that fake Pat Sajak.

Kristina P. said...

That's too bad! Sounds like a good day of people watching, however.

nano*ink said...

Maybe it's just me, but if you have the baby, the good things will come.
just sayin'

Annette Lyon said...

I'd like to know what pink bra lady was thinking. But I have a feeling she'd have been about as eloquent as the drawing girl.

(I almost laughed at the rattlesnake and explosion thing--then realized that, oh, yeah. The book DOES have those two things . . .)

Kimberly said...

Emo girl totally cracked me up!

Aubrey said...

Ropes and dreams. Laugh snort. Reminds me of that Friends episode where Joey thought the Wheel of Fortune answer was Count Rushmore.

Heidi Ashworth said...

At least it was a blog-worthy experience. Who doesn't need plenty of those? And a mini-van? And another kid?

Josi said...

I think you're awesome for trying, and, yeah, seems like a hot bed for people watching, which is a lot more fun than Wheel of Fortune anyway.

Debbie said...

So, ropes and dreams wasn't the correct answer? Even if the dream has Orlando Bloom in and the ropes...nevermind.

Alison Wonderland said...

So fun! Long and boring, I'm sure, but also fun!

The Crash Test Dummy said...

Love it. How cool that you tried. And how sad that I'm the only one who isn't in the Annette Lyon loop. I so want to read that book.

The Crash Test Dummy said...


boysmum2 said...

What a hol lot of fun that looked like. All that people watching, I could have spent all night there just watching.

Elizabeth said...

looks like fun...wish you were on though...that would be great...then i'd watch the wheel. :-)

Heather of the EO said...

I just read this post to my husband over the phone (and described the photos) because this was our exact experience at a casino here in MN about two years ago. I was bummed, what a stupid system. But yes, a unique opportunity to people watch, that is for sure. :)

Eowyn said...

I'm sorry you didn't get picked!

But the TOS quip was worth it!

(Are you totally sucking up?)