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Looking down the row of colorful fan-filled T-shirts, holding my sign high for all to see, I experience a moment of concern at being among so many cultural castaways. And when I stand to take my turn to scream and profess my love for someone I've never met in front of hundreds of people I'll never see again, I begin to question my sanity. Just what led me here, to the Temple of Bob? I drift back to the first time I thought it might be fun to get on a game show -- exactly one week before this day.

THE SHOW

What does it take to get on a game show? I've had my speculations in the past, but until last week, I never sought an answer. Completely ignorant of the process, I did the prudent thing by Googling "game show contestant." The immensity of "how to" sites made it clear to me that I was not the first person to wonder what it takes to get on TV and win free shit. I watch a maximum of 30 minutes of television every fortnight and have no clue what shows are airing anymore. Just because I don't watch TV doesn't make me culturally retarded, so I dug deep in my memory banks for names of game shows I'd seen in the past, and the following sprang to mind: Jeopardy!, Wheel of Fortune, The Price Is Right, and something with the word "millionaire" in it. I immediately ruled out the millionaire one. Too stupid, too "banterific." (Barbarism) The few minutes of this show I happened to catch in the past year or so convinced me that Regis is annoying, and people are dumb as shit. Jeopardy!, though my favorite to watch, is a show I have neither the patience nor the trivia acumen to attempt. Know your strengths, know your weaknesses. The periodic table and potpourri facts seem to escape me on a regular basis. On to the next!

Wheel of Fortune, now THERE'S a game show. Words, a wheel, and a man named Pat. My sources told me Vanna recently took pole-dancing classes. That vixen. Wheel of Fortune was my number-one choice, so I got on the show's website to see what I had to do. Adult application, okay, seemed simple enough. What? Two to three weeks before they let you know if you've been considered? And most people NEVER hear back at ALL? Risky. I sent an e-mail after I filled out my application (note: the "application" is merely an information-gathering form for name, address, etc.) in hopes that this would help me get noticed. As if every fanatic out there simply fills out an information form and leaves it at that. Right. So Wheel of Fortune was a shot in the dark, depending on the volume of applicants. This left one.

TWO BUCKS

According to my how-to sites, The Price Is Right was the only game show someone with my microscopic level of patience was likely to get on. It also seemed to be the easiest; as I would come to learn, the prerequisites were simple and few: one must have the patience of a rock, the enthusiasm of a hyperactive seven-year-old on Christmas morning, and a stupid T-shirt (the astute reader will deduce that "intelligence" isn't necessary, but I'm getting ahead of myself). I figured Monday was a perfect day to be on TV, so I booked a room at the Wyndham Bel Age off Sunset Boulevard for Sunday night. On Thursday afternoon, as I was getting a fabulous new "do," I recruited my good friend and stylist, Ronaldo, to be my game-show companion. Things were falling into place, and everything was set. Surely I was guaranteed a wonderful experience, an extended spotlight, and tons of big showcase booty. Saturday, I began to have doubts.

My routine shopping list consists of Lean Cuisines, diet Coke, hair clips, cat food, and kitty litter. On those occasions that I stock up on toiletries and perishables, I have a formula for figuring out the prices -- assume that everything in the cart is two bucks. This has never failed me, from San Diego to Los Angeles, and back again. I just don't pay attention to individual prices. THE WORD IS IN THE TITLE OF THE SHOW, and I didn't have clue one about the price of anything! Now don't get me wrong, I'm not Miss Moneybags. I don't wave the prices away because they don't matter. It's just that, for my needs, my pricing scheme has proven sufficient. This was going to be tougher than I thought.

Saturday afternoon I went on a training mission to Vons with my sister. Operation Get-Food-for-Birthday-Barbecue underway, I walked through the automatic sliding doors with high hopes that were immediately dashed by the vision of a warehouse filled wall-to-wall with brightly colored products I never buy. We went up and down every aisle. After the second aisle, I was dizzy and overwhelmed. What, was I supposed to memorize these prices? Don't prices change from store to store? Everything seemed to be under $5, but then detergents were under $10...air fresheners were $2.69, or was that $1.49? You had to pay attention to the brand too? Shit. There was no way in hell I was going to remember all of this. I kept my chin up and tried hard to look at the prices -- you never know when latent powers of the brain will waken. People have spontaneous memories all the time, right? Shit.

WE DON'T NEED NO STINKING TICKETS

Ronaldo picked me up right on time, just as my boyfriend, David, was finishing my grand, attention-getting sign. We loaded the truck with our bags and hit the road! Halfway up Interstate 5, I discovered something very important. Reading over the printout of my TPiR (that's how The Price Is Right is referred to by those in the know, by the way) information sheet, I noticed for the first time the words, "You just get a free ticket, show up at the studio, and take your chances!" Wha'? Get a free ticket? Get TICKETS?!? I was hesitant to say anything to Ron, for the obvious reason -- I felt like a fucking idiot. Here we were, an hour into our drive, hotel reserved, big plans for the day ahead, and yours truly never thought to investigate getting a ticket. Clearly, my master plan was not as thorough as I had led Ron to believe.

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