It Takes Two

February 21, 1997...

It was my return to the dark, sordid world of game shows. Last time I had trod this path, the results were disheartening. For the past three and a half years, I have carried around the pain. Like some Brady kid having a bad dream, the words have haunted me, ringing over and over, "I should have bought a vowel... I should have bought a vowel... I should have bought a vowel..."

It was not the loss that stung so much. It some ways it wasn't a loss at all. I received a check from Wheel of Fortune for 2100 dollars. I spent a wonderful week in Orlando and Disney World with my girlfriend. Family and friends across this great nation of ours got to see me on the little screen. But the dissatisfaction arose from the fact that I simply lost my cool. I knew what I wanted to do on the show. I had the game-plan laid out in my head, but when it was crunch-time, I just forgot to follow it.

How would the outcome have been different? Well, that's hard to say. If I had bought a vowel and retained control of the 2nd puzzle, I could have made a lot of money on that puzzle and then won the day. And yet, I could have spun a couple more times and lost a turn or hit bankrupt. Losing a turn would have been bad, bankrupt worse. There would have been no trip to Orlando no matter how many times I solved the puzzle. And that was a great trip. So, what would have happened is not the issue.

What did happen is the losing of the aforementioned "cool" as I stood on the stage and blindly spun away at the wheel. So, as I sat in my little It Takes Two cubicle, I wanted to avoid that. I had to prove to myself that I could handle the pressure and excitement and confusion of taping a game show. I had to show myself and the entire Family Channel viewing public that John Ducey has made some progress as a game show contestant, as a performer, and as a human being.

So, did it happen? Well, the airing of the episode will bear out the truth, and they could even cut some stuff, but gosh, darn it, I sure was proud of myself and my ability to respond and think on my feet as I was called upon to banter and elaborate on my answers. I never felt as if I was stunned or lost in some wheel-spinning fog. I was myself and I felt I entertained. We did not win any money. We did not win any trips to major vacation destinations. But we did have a great time.

And I feel, now, finally, after all these years, a little bit of weight has been lifted from my tired shoulders. Will I be able to watch Wheel of Fortune now without cringing? Maybe. But even if I still struggle with the sight of Vanna White merrily turning open a silent "e" I already hear the sound of regret growing fainter. In the distance, someone is still mumbling, "You should have bought a vowel..." but drowning out those words is the laughter and appreciation of the It Takes Two studio audience as I allowed myself to shine through.

May God bless the Family Channel. Amen.



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