This Week's Contestant
POSTED on 9-1
Of course, the morning of the taping, I was running late. I honestly tried to be on time...but it was SO early, and I was SO nervous, and my hair was SO not cooperating. The good news is: I made it. I was the last contestant to show up (awkward), but I made it. Crisis averted.
The morning was a complete whirlwind...lots of nervous excitement, and paperwork, and figuring out logistics. Before the day's tapings started, we got to practice spinning the wheel. Goodness me, is that thing heavy and I was so nervous about getting good spins. It didn't help that I kept having visions of me reaching down to spin and falling down from the platform onto the wheel. It would have been mortifying, but, I kept reminding myself, it would also make for great television.
I was on the second-to-last show of the day, so I had lots of downtime to breathe deeply and watch other games before I took to the stage myself. I thought I had calmed my nerves completely, but when it was my turn, and I was finally standing there next to Pat, staring across the stage at Vanna...it literally took my breath away. I had to keep reminding myself to breathe, think, and be in the moment. It was really happening.
I'll be honest and tell you that I'm looking forward to watching my show air partially because my few short minutes of fame are a complete blur. I remember being dumbfounded that things moved so quickly during the tapingthe folks who work on the show are such pros that everything basically happens in real time, including commercial breaks.
The first thing I learned when my game started is that Toss-Ups are WAY HARDER when you're playing in real life than they are when you're watching from home. Like, a LOT harder. I didn't get either of the first two, and was in the hole from the start. I was completely bummed.
I didn't get much of a chance during the first round (darn those Bankrupts), but when the Prize Puzzle rolled around, I was killing it: I was calling correct letters right and left, and I'd even gotten to pick up a KIA. But the Wheel....she's a tricky one. I landed on another Bankrupt with a lot of the puzzle solved, and my heart completely sank. It was over.
That was the first of two moments in the game when I should have remembered that while the Wheel is fickle, it's never too late to remain hopeful. Somehow, the turn came back around to me and I had another chance. And I solved it. I SOLVED THE PRIZE PUZZLE. I was jumping up and down and shouting "It's a PRIZE PUZZLE! IT'S A PRIZE PUZZLE," and I'm pretty sure I almost knocked Pat off the platform. BUT SERIOUSLY, IT WAS A PRIZE PUZZLE!!!!
Solving the Prize Puzzle put me right in the running, and when it came time for the third Toss Up, I was determined to get it so I would be in the lead. Imagine my heartbreak when first one, then the other of my fellow contestants buzzed in before me. BUT: they both got it wrong! Which brings me to the second moment in the game when I should have known that it's never too late to remain hopeful. Suddenly it was just me, the puzzle and the clock...and I got it!
Going into the final round, I was ahead. I was winning. The Bonus Round was so close, I could taste it. And then we heard the sound that strikes fear in the heart of any Wheel of Fortune contestant: the bell that indicates it's time for the Final Spin.
I was so close. I stood there staring at the puzzle, and the answer was just at the edge of my mind. I was almost there...but I couldn't get it in time, and my fellow contestants each had a chance. And just when I realized I knew the answer to the puzzle...Stephanie knew it first, on her turn, and my Wheel of Fortune experience came to an end. She edged me out with her winnings from the final puzzle, and headed to the Bonus Round.