Tuesday, February 24, 2004


Wink Martindale Got Me Laid, part 3

I invited my friend John along for my second trip to Vancouver. I had visions of the two of us finding three or four loose Canadian girls, seducing them with my game show winnings, taking them back to my huge suite, and throwing a debauched orgy with my lavish per diem. Then we get there and find out that they’ve changed my accommodations to a single room, and instead of seventy-five a day per diem I get a flat hundred bucks for meals.

No matter, I was here on a mission. I had a game show to win, and a bonus round jackpot to collect.

I greeted Wink like an old buddy as I walked into that studio, stylin’ in my Cosby sweater, stuck my nametag to my chest, and entered into my second set of tapings with confidence and purpose. There was a temporary setback when I lost one game to a soccer mom from Gig Harbor, but I quickly recovered with Roger Moseley’s help, and pretty soon we went back to the bonus round and aced it with three seconds to spare. I was on such a roll that I was able to win the bonus round one more time, before, having beaten five straight opponents, I retired from the game.

My final tally included two TVs, four stereos, a couch, an electric organ, and trips to Las Vegas, the Caribbean, and Palm Springs. Total value—by their estimate—over sixty thousand dollars. To the best of my knowledge, by the time the show was cancelled a few months later, I was their undisputed top winner.

That night John and I hit the town. That was when the aforementioned Most Surreal Moment Of My Life took place. We ran into Wink, who directed us to a club called Luv-A-Fair, which turned out to be one of Vancouver’s top hangouts for punks, Goths, and other cool freaks. Turns out Wink frequented their gay S&M nights.

Okay, not really. He had heard that was where the hot young production intern I had been flirting with was going dancing. We never ran into her, but we did finally take advantage of the lower drinking age. Sadly, I never did pluck up the courage to try my pickup line, “Hi, I just won sixty grand, wanna dance?” and we went back to the tiny hotel room alone.

By the time the shows aired a few months later, the prizes had started trickling in. And that was when the problems began. I would have to pay taxes on the value of each prize. Trouble was, as I said before, game shows routinely inflate the values of their prizes, so it became necessary to try to find the actual value of each prize. I kept very few of the prizes. Some I simply declined. Others were sold.

I had very little to do with this process; my Mom took control of the prizes—and the money—almost immediately. Over the next year, as the prizes kept trickling in, this situation led to some of the worst fights my mother and I ever had.

My take was this; I appreciate you helping with this. And I know I have to pay the IRS their cut. And I know that a portion of it goes to my voc school tuition. But the money is, you know, mine, and I would like to see some of it from time to time. Not unreasonable, I thought.

Her take was; shut your mouth.

It gives me no pleasure to speak about my poor, now-dead Mother this way, but the sad fact is that the woman went to great lengths to be unreasonable. It’s scientifically proven to run in her family. On one occasion, when I asked for some money for a date, she stonewalled me with “oh, sure, I’ll just open up my purse and give you all my money. Want my credit cards too?” On another occasion, she told me, quite calmly, that I couldn’t handle responsibility, and she kept it because I needed someone to be my keeper.

Why was she that way? I know part of it was simply the fact that I, her smartassed kid, made it onto the show and won big, while she, a MENSA member, auditioned (after my parents got back from their trip) and didn’t make the cut.

Things came to a head over what I call “The Cruise Offensive.”

One of the trips I won was a ten-day cruise to the Caribbean. Not long after the show, I began getting letters from her friends, congratulating me on my success. Strangely, though, they all seemed to end the same way; after giving me my props, they would suggest that I take my Mom along on the cruise. “After all,” went one letter, “what woman wouldn’t be delighted to be seen on the high seas with a handsome young swain on her arm?”

Naturally, she denied orchestrating this Star Trek-esque campaign. But, she added, since they did suggest it, why not take her along? Why not go on a sexy, alcohol-fueled Love Boat cruise…with my mother?

She never forgave me for not taking her.

But my Mom was not the only guilty party; I have to acknowledge my own mistakes, and I made a big one. A huge mistake, named Michelle.

NEXT: I meet a troll on Halloween

Copyright 2004 Rich Bowen

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