This Week's Contestant
My parents had a few set-in-stone rules for us as childrenrooms had to be clean, table manners were to be observed, and television was to be limited to 2 hours per week. The only exceptions to the last rule were that Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy! didn't count against our allotted time. Although I'm fairly sure that my parents had an ulterior motive (they wanted to be able to watch the shows themselves), I looked forward to the two half-hour shows every day.
This childhood "free TV" opportunity led me to consider trying out when I heard that Wheel of Fortune was holding auditions in Dallas. My friend Drew is a dedicated Wheel Watcher and agreed to come as well. She was definitely a trooper; the line was several hours long and there were over 1,000 people per audition group. My name was randomly called near the end, shocking considering that each person had about at 3% chance. I solved the sample puzzle and was told to wait a few weeks to find out whether I was invited to a second round. I figured that whether or not I would end up appearing on the show, worst case scenario was that I got to play fun word games for a few hours.
I completed a second-round audition and was selected to be a contestant in the spring, but taping was about to enter a summer hiatus. This gave me several months to prepare. My job at the time required that I travel during the week, so I set my DVR to record all episodes and would have my friends over for watching sessions each weekend. My friend Stacy is a particularly avid fan of the show and really helped get me excited. The day before I flew out to LA, she gave me a handmade good-luck charm that I brought with me.
The call came during my last week of work. I had decided that I needed a change of scenery and was planning on moving to San Francisco within a month. There was a taping available during my "packing week," meaning that I didn't have to worry about missing work for the show. I certainly welcomed the break from taping up cardboard boxes in my apartment.
The flight out to LA was pretty uneventful, although the whole time it didn't really hit me that anything was real. I was really focused on my impending life change (and all of the details of moving cross-country), so appearing on Wheel of Fortune was just a strange anomaly. It wasn't until I arrived in the studio and practiced spinning the actual wheel that everything hit me. My mom had flown out the night before, and a friend of mine from college, Valerie, is going to law school in LA and was able to come to the studio the day of the show as well. I was unable to have any contact with them, but knowing they were there made me feel like someone was rooting for me.
One show taped immediately before mine. About 10 minutes before our show was to commence, I went in to the makeup room for a last-minute touch-up. The makeup artist informed me that she had worked with the first game's winner and was thus giving me luck. My luck wavered a bit when I took a drink from a water bottle and managed to spill drops of water all down the front of my shirt. The makeup team acted quickly and found a hair dryer. Disaster averted, I prepared to play. Watch me on Tuesday October 5th to see if my luck panned out.