Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Sam Plays "Wheel Of Fortune"-Last One...PROMISE!

I posted on the "Wheel Of Fortune" message board to get Harv's last name. Someone quietly said,"the guy your talking about is Harv Selsby". As soon as I read that, a flood of memories of him came back. I Googled his name and found out his Hollywood past. It turns out that Harv did a little acting before "Wheel", doing bit parts on "Chips" and "Star Trek" before becoming a "contestant wrangler". Since being on "Wheel", he's gone on to many other game shows and done the job. So Mr. Selsby, I thank you for giving me the chance to be on NBC and meeting Vanna White and I dedicate this whole chapter play to you, sir. Now, you have a new Google I hope you can brag on.

So, here we are. After all that hard work, me and the other Savannah State College team finally get on the show for College Week, only to see one player go to the nightime show, while the other two fail miserably after all the pactice they'd done. I felt bad for them after all the work they had done to get here, only to lose every round. Here I was, playing Billy Bob Badass and not practicing a bit. I was just basking in the glory of just being there in Hollywood. I couldn't let everyone down. I couldn't let myself down if I lost. I couldn't let my old man use me as an open target. I was gonna play and play hard. It's Hollywood, Jake. You gotta play by their rules.

When we were setting up for my taping, I was positioned as the first player, which meant I would would be next to Pat Sajak. I though that was so cool. I thought that my good attitude and witty remarks got me that close to the host. Soon, the countdown was on and in three, two, one it was time for..."WHEEL! OF! FORTUNE!" The music swelled and announcer Jack Clark proclaimed, "It's College Week here on "Wheel Of Fortune! Look at this studio, filled with fabulous prizes!"

After talking about the cash and prizes, he introed Pat to the stage and applause went thru the set. Pat then brought out Vanna, who was looking smokin' hot that taping. Man, was I lucky to be alive that day. Now it was time to introduce today's players. I went first. "First up, we have Sam Johnson, a freshman student from Savannah State," goes Pat. "So Sam, what's your major?"

I perked right up and said, "I'm majoring in Mass Comminications, Pat."

"So, it says when you're not heading to class, you collect comic books, is that right?"

"Yeah, it's fun hobby. I've been doing it since I was a kid." I so wanted to give a shout out to my listerners on WSOK and my homies, but Pat moved on to the next person. I do know though that the third guy went to the University Of Utah and when he wasn't going to class, he had a music video show. I was pissed. I could have said I was a DJ with a hot show. That guy looked like a dork. I can't wait to move, so I can find those frickin' photos to show you guys.

After giving the rules, it was time to play the game. Since I won the toss, I got to go first. I spun.
200 dollars was up. I gave a letter. It was wrong. I was deflated. I thought I was going down. Soon, I thought I was gonna lose, because I was missing letter after letter. I couldn't belive it. I was gonna be like the rest of the guys. I was going back to Savannah as The King Of The Doofuses. Man, my old man was gonna kill me.

After that first round, I composed myself and took a deep breath. We were in a break and Pat was asking us how we felt and were we nervous, being the nicest host. Ever smiling, ever helpful. I wonder if he ever went off an anyone who was so dumb that they lost because they couldn't spell. I prayed he wouldn't grab a porcelin dalmation and beat me over the head with it.

We then came out of the break and it was the second round. The winner of the first round went first and failed. Then, the VJ spun and failed as well. It was my spin now. I closed my eyes, took a deep breath and spun the wheel. It came up on 300 dollars.

"I'll take an 'R' please, Pat", I said in a shaky voice.

" We've got an 'R' up there, Sam!"

I saw Vanna turn the letter around and I was relieved. After the applause, I spun again. 2oo. I asked nervously, "Is there an 'L', Pat?

"We've got two 'L's up there, Sam! You've got 700 dollars, Sam! Keep on spinning!"

Holy shit, I was playing "Wheel Of Fortune"! I was doing great! Soon, I was buying vowels and watching letters turn and making money. When it was said and done, I had won two thousand, five hundren dollars to use on "the fabulous prizes" they had up. See, you kids don't know about that. Now, they just give you the chedder after you win the round and you can buy whatever you want. Nooo, you had to buy what they had on the stage and love it. So, I took the Sony waterproof boombox for 250, the Gucci gift certificate for 1,200 and put the rest on a Speigel gift certificate. I could have put down on a new Pontiac Fierenza when I got home, danggit! Still, I had done what the others didn't. I finally won one for the good old SSC Tigers. I did it.

After me and due to time, it was time for the final spin, which meant that whatever Pat spun would be the the amount we would get for each letter that we picked and landed on the board. It made it all the way to 3000 dollars. We were freakin' out on stage. The audience was freakin' out. Pat was freakin' out. I was sooo hoping for Vanna to fall out of her top. This was it. It was time to be the Man. We were told it was a phrase.

The VJ went first. He flunked. Silly VJ. Go back to Utah and intro a Cory Hart clip. It was my turn next. "P", I said. There was a "P". "S", I asked. There was a an "S". Holy crap. "Is there a "Z", I asked, looking at the blackboard they kept off camera, while a person marked off every letter used that round. "Sam, there are TWO "Z"s up there!", goes Pat and crowd went wild. The audience went wild. I had racked up 12,000 dollars! I was not only winning, I was raking in the big bucks! I could be the biggest winner on College Week! "Is there an 'N'?"

"Ohhh, sorry. There's no 'N', Sam"

Dammit, I almost said on the air. You could see the look on my face as I heard that. That's cool. I know I can still walk away the champ. It was the seond player's turn and they crapped out. Then it was the VJ's turn. "Is there an 'A', Pat?"

"Yes, there is! There's two of them!"

The VJ said, "I'd like to guess, Pat".

"Go right ahead."

" 'A slice of pizza', Pat."

"That's absolutly right! You got 6,000 dollars!"

WHATTHAWHOTHEFRICK? How'd that happen? He couldn't guess one stinkin' thing the whole time! Where did he come from!? That was mine, all mine! You fat geek! I had that sewed up and you took it from me! I oughtta come across that wheel and and beat your fat ass with a copy of the home game! Not only did he win the game after having the most amount, he got to go in to the bonus round. Good thing he lost that one and didn't get the car, or I would have waited for him outside NBC and wailed on him. However, I played good guy on daytime tv and smiled and shook his hand. Too bad the show wasn't on HBO or I'd have put him down with a knuckle sammich, 'cause no one's ammune from an ass whoopin'.

WHen that taping was over, everyone came down and was congratulating me. I did it. I did what I say I was gonna do the whole time. I was gonna play to win and I did it. Everyone surrounded
me and told me that they were proud of me and that I did a great job. Harv Selsby came over and told me I was fantastic and he wished that I could have gone on to the finals. He handed me some tax forms and I signed them, as this was earned propery in California and was taxable. I filled them out and savored my victory.

We stuck around to see the final round which had the three big winners of the week, including the VJ. He lost that one, too. The best one got all the way to bonus round and won the hot little red Fierenza they had on the stage. It wasn't me, but I was happy just to be a part of the whole thing. We all took photos and hugged. I got to shake Pat's hand and thanked him for the opportunity to be on the show. Oh, and I did hug Vanna. She felt good. Man, that was worth the trip. All the players went back to the hotel were they were staying and we partied the night away. We got drunk and talked about our time on the show. I got ripped and had a great time now that the pressure was off. I wound up at one point in the elevator with the big winner. We kinda started making out in our drunken state for a minute. Hey, she was hot, too. If I wasn't gonna get the car, I was gonna get the owner. That made up for the whole thing.

We got back to our host house and told them all how we had done and that the shows would run the same week, which was great. We could get back home and freshly tell about how the wholem thing was. We had to go back to the studio the next day however as they would be taping the nighttime shows and our boy Ronald was up for a separate game. Since it was the night show they asked us to dress up a bit, because it was classier that daytime and there was bigger cash and prizes up for grabs. Well, wouldn't you know it? The Savannah State steak struck again and poor ol' Ronald lost major. He looked like a goof in his too large suit and couldn't guess one letter right. He almost went into a tantrum whenever Pat told him he was wrong. The funny thing is, he was main one griping that I was never practicing and that I was ruining it for the team. They never really said a word to me after that. Just looking at me like I was a jerk for going. Oh, well. They always had Pac-Man.

We got back Savannah on Monday night tired from the whole thing. I took the day off from school and went back on Wednesday in the middle of the show's run. I told them that mine ran on Thursday and I didn't tell them how I did, but the others did, partially out of anger and rage. We had all gone to the WSAV on Tuesday to tape reminders on what day each of us had played on. Sarge had missed her time, but we all got together, put on fake smiles and said, "Watch us on 'Wheel Of Fortune"all week!" We said our goodbyes and went our seperate ways, only to see each other on the campus once in a while and wave a friendly hello and know that we four all had a common bond now. I was proud of that fact.

A few things as I wrap this up. I didn't really see that much of them after awhile. I went on to
my normal life of women, radio and college, in that order. Soon, I started to see less of them around. I wound up leaving the campus two years later after the money from my grants had run out and Dad wasn't gonna spend big bucks on me furthing my future. He had a business he had to run, and he wasn't gonna give me anything when he could teach me how fix a 23' Zenith floor model. I wound up working for him years later he talked me into coming into the fold after being between radio gigs. Before that, I wound up having to ask him to help me pay off the taxes on the prizes as well, which was 800 bucks. I wasn't making any in radio and I had a deadline to pay it off or I would never get to see any of my won swag. After that was taken care of, I tried my damnedest to pay it off, but he held on to it saying it was his, since he took care of the taxes. That fat ass took my hard earned stuff and laughed all the way. I never saw the any of it. I'm glad he's locked away now, the thief. Well, I did get the waterproof boombox and all the commercial consideration stuff the show's sponser sent. To this day, I still refuse to drink Sunny D.

Oh, and before I got to work for the old man, I had to do something to make some money. I wound up getting a job at Godfather's Pizza. That darn phrase was gonna haunt me for the rest of my everlivin' days.


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