Part Deux: ‘I Made You, Jimmy Kimmel"

by

(Part One.)

Finally, after several Memorable Moments with Mushmouth, they let us into the studio.

The herd of prospective game show contestants, probably about 150 in number, ambled past the darkened, vacant set of the game show. Some paused and basked in the splendor of the scene, kind of a nerd’s version of the emotional arrhythmia a sports fan encounters in the moments after stepping from the shadows of a ballpark’s concourse and into the lighted beauty of the field itself. I’m gonna play there someday!

They led the unsuspecting cattle through a dizzying maze of temporary walls and shadowy backstages, finally stopping in a makeshift conference room where school lunchroom tables sat dotted with stapled pages, each turned upside down, each with two sharpened, Number Two pencils beaming garish, piercing yellow in the gloaming.

Pop quiz!

Twenty minutes to complete the test, they said. No talking, no copying, no cheating of any kind. You are being watched. And please keep distractions to a minimum, if you could.

What grade do we have to make on this? asked a member of the herd.

Whatever puts you in the top thirty, they said. The rest will be dismissed.

With fabulous parting gifts? asked the herd spokesman.

Why don’t we get started, they said.

Twenty minutes flew by as we attacked the 175-question test (and the test launched a couple of counterattacks, including the lobbing of several trigonometry grenades which are certainly a violation of the Geneva Convention). Somewhere around the halfway point, a member of the WBSM team stepped out and said, “Would [Mrs. Wednesday Housefly] please stand up?” My wife, who wasn’t taking the test, stood nervously. “Please follow me,” said the man, and he briskly led her out of the room.

I’m glad we’re keeping those distractions to a minimum, I thought as a cosine exploded sharply and loudly behind me.

Sorry, I said to the people nearby, it must’ve been the chicken.

No talking, they said.

——————–

Mrs. Housefly returned when the twenty minutes ended. As it turned out, the man who came to get her was Terrence, the person with whom she had spoken on the phone several times while arranging this soiree. Terrence, though thoroughly not into girls, was smitten by her charm and Southern Belle ™ accent on the phone and just had to meet her. So while I slogged through the test, dodging a series of booby trapezoids, the missus sat in the green room and chugged Dr Pepper with the show’s production team, delighting them with every y’all that passed her lips.

“Isn’t this fun?” she giggled upon rejoining me after the test. I showed her the swamps under my armpits and the tangent shrapnel in my back, but she was quickly distracted by something shiny. I took what little solace there was in knowing that the experience had certainly come to a merciful conclusion, and we could now be about the real reasons for coming to LA in the first place: touring Dodger Stadium and searching for Julia Roberts.

So naturally, mine was the first name they called from the “keeper list.” Though she denies it to this day, I’m convinced the missus pulled some strings there.

We waved goodbye to the hundred-and-whatever failures as they were herded back out to Mushmouth Boulevard, and I remember thinking at the time how doleful they looked as they shuffled out. As it turned out, they were the lucky ones.

My twenty-nine fellow survivors and I learned that we were to be pitted against one another in WBSM-like competition. We would be brought to the front in groups of three, and we would attempt to curry favor with the judges (the production team) by gutting our competition while being “expressive, energetic, excited, and having a lot of fun.”

My turn came soon enough, and I was put up against Gina, a formidable opponent who, I sensed, would do whatever it took to get on television. The other contestant, Lars, had a captivating personality that was equal parts social anxiety disorder and mental retardation. That he survived the testing round gives me ample reason to question the legitimacy of the whole process.

Gina, a tall, intelligent, extremely aggressive blond with a smile so broad and clenched I kept expecting her teeth to shatter, jumped out to an early lead. She was clearly firing on all synapses, while I was sluggish from sensory overload and the growing, gnawing sense that I didn’t really want to be on TV.

“Michael Bolton!” screamed Gina.

“Correct,” said the host. “Are the other two of you planning to play tonight?”

“Ha ha!” I retorted.

“Charcoal,” said Lars. And so it went.

“Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme!” said Gina.

“Correct again,” said the host.

Dang, I thought.

“Lou Gehrig,” chimed Lars, and Gina nodded sympathetically as she poured it on.

“Process color!”

“Correct.”

Crap.

“Franklin Pierce.”

“Yes!”

Shoot.

And then it happened. My big break…

“Aveoli.”

Pregnant pause.

“Incorrect,” said the host, and he was as surprised as I.

Lars seized the opportunity first, quickly buzzing in.

“She smells like lavender.”

“Thanks for playing, Lars,” said the host, who turned his gaze on me.

I buzzed in guiltily, glancing up apologetically toward Gina.

Al-veoli.”

“CORRECT!” And the audience, all of whom were beginning to suspect Gina of being either a cyborg or a cannibal, or perhaps both, burst into pathetic applause.

“OK, Wednesday. Make your selection.”

Here it must be pointed out that part of the adolescent charm of WBSM is that every category is titled to provide the maximum amount of titillation via double entendre and insinuation. For instance, the category I chose was:

“I Can See Your Nibbles.”

“Well, thanks,” said the host. “But choose a category.”

The audience guffawed, but I bristled at the host’s attempt to steal my spotlight.

“I’ll be glad to, as soon as you put on a t-shirt.”

The crickets’ chirping told me the sun had set on my game show career. We never saw Julia Roberts, we were only allowed into the gift shop at Dodger Stadium because of construction, we never got to experience an earthquake, a freeway shooting or smog, and worst of all, a member of my WBSM class went on to actually Win Ben Stein’s Money a few months later.

Way to go, Lars.

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2 Responses to “Part Deux: ‘I Made You, Jimmy Kimmel"”

  1. Michael Lasley Says:

    Seeing as Ben Stein was a member of Nixon’s staff, the game had to have been fixed, no?

  2. juvenal_urbino Says:

    “booby trapezoids”

    Somebody else titter at that so I don’t feel so alien.

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