The Holiest of Holy Part 1
I wish I could report to you that I won big on The Price Is Right yesterday, but alas I cannot. It was a 4% chance to get called to “come on down” to contestant row, and a 2% chance of actually getting to the stage. From there it was a 33.33333 chance to make it to the Showcase Showdown, and from there a 50% chance to win. I gave it the old college try, but did not get called down to meet the emaciated Drew Cary. I did have an amazing time and learn the ropes so that the next time I go (and there will be a next time) I will have a better shot. For starters I won’t leave my phone behind again! I found out after I arrived that they simply check your phone inside and you can actually carry it all the way up to the studio door. This would have made the process so much better. Instead I left my home at 7’oclock at night for the weekly comedy evening at Meltdown Comics, run by my friend Emily over at Gynomite. That in and of itself would have been enough for an amazing night since they received a surprise visit from Daniel Tosh (Tosh.0), who I absolutely love! There was also a surprise visit from Chris Hardwick on top of the scheduled comedy of Dana Gould, Steve Agee, (from the Sarah Silverman Show), Jon Daly, and The Sklar Brothers! Fucking Golden moment that kicked off what would be the Holiest of Holy days of my life!
After the comedy, we all made our way over to the neighboring bar for drinks and more laughs until I it was time for me to make my way over to the line. I tried to record the moment in my notebook, but lost the urge to write once the sun rose and the line started to really fill out. These were my only notes recorded during that first hour after I arrived;
Waiting in line at the Price is Right in front of the CBS studios on Beverly and Fairfax. Arrived close to three A.M., there were only 9 people in line, a group of semi-pro, women’s softball players, who are playing a game of Spades, and drinking Bud-Light. I chat them up, and they offered me a beer, after a while I settled in with my comics that I picked up earlier that night at Meltdown. I quickly read through the three books I could afford to get this week, the girls got up to search for a bathroom and I struck up a conversation with the lone male in their group. He was the boyfriend of the only sleeping ladies who didn’t venture off. As we discussed our musical taste and our mutual love of travel, a couple of large black families rolled up. The first one pulled up to the curb and unloaded 11 chairs, the second brought five!
There were soon a couple of dozen of us gathered for the pilgrimage, many of them came equipped with fancy lawn chairs and coolers; seasoned vets at the waiting game. While I was no noob, my way was more rugged. It was quickly apparent I was to be the lone wolf. God I wish I had a camera, my kingdom for a picture of this! One by one they came, carrying folding chairs festooned in ornate colors, but I the lone wolf sat ahead of most. Only the nine whom I had already befriended stood before me and destiny. I was in!
I had no idea what time it was, God I missed my phone, I missed the internet, and I missed Facebook and Twitter, and checking my email every 15 minutes! I wanted to watch something move before me other than the cars that blew past us lunatics. The cars passing by, increasing in frequency told the time better than the sun that was rising lazily. It was the only other than the minutes which I could not see on my precious phone waiting for me back at home.
The time actual past rather quickly considering, after the softball gals got back from their lengthy sojourn they all curled up in their nice chairs with their colorful blankets and went to sleep. I then turned and began chatting with the nice black family of 11 of which only about half were there. Their matriarch was a woman named Mattie, who reminded me of one of my grandmother’s sisters. All gum smacking and ‘mmm-hmm”, they were from Memphis, out west on for a family reunion I believe I wasn’t quite sure why they were all out here. They had been to two previous tapings this week, but it was Mattie who was the true veteran. This was her 18th time at the Price is Right and she was determined to make it her last. She had never been asked to “come on down” but had made it on stage once when her sister won in 1999. Mattie would be my guide for what to expect. I had spent the previous 48 hours studying everything I could online, combing through article dating back to 2007 and beyond. I believed I had what they were looking for and even removed my nose ring to prove it. I now believe that was a mistake. We’ll see next time. As the hours past we talked about all manner of things and switched back and forth from the softball girls to the Mattie and her Memphis Brood. I stayed up on my feet I didn’t want to lose one ounce of momentum, and I knew that if I relaxed for a second I would fall most likely into a coma and be left on the sidewalk for the 12’o clock taping. As more and more people trickled in I thought it was a shame they didn’t get here earlier they would surely never be picked to be one of us! Only the true faithful were here before dawn.
Once dawn arrived it was only more waiting before the security guard finally came out and informed us that the woman who will give us our numbers would be arriving at 7:30, which was at the time still an hour away. I stretched and kept myself limber against a tree etched with forty years of people who had stood hopefully in the same line as me. I was amazed and in awe of all this, I couldn’t help but feel that this was my chance, this was my moment. I should be writing, doing more with my life other than worker shitty dead in jobs that will get me nowhere or nowhere, I truly wanted to go. A cool 10 grand from the Price Is Right would give me a cushion to sit back and work on my writing. Or I could just use this time here in L.A. to try and make the right connections I would need to make a career sitting on my ass in front of computer making up stories a reality. Yes I know, my girlfriend tells me the same everyday both back in SF and over the phone everyday while I’m here. I look out at all these people some of them are here because like me they grew up with the show, a few others are also like me and they have a dream of winning big, it would change our life. My mind is filled with thoughts of how I can play the producers and impress them enough to get the call.
In hindsight I should not have been taking que’s from a woman, who had failed at seventeen attempts, but Mattie was sweet and as I said she reminded me of my Aunties. I tried to weigh the balance of what I had read and what Mattie was telling me. As the line coordinator came out to check our tickets and write a number on it. She was a bubbly blonde whose face seemed familiar, she was rail thin dressed as if she had just come from a morning run, in dark blue stirrup ants and loose fitting tank top. She wore a dull grey wool cap on her head and oversized shades covering her eyes. She was cute, when she asked if I was with a group. “No” I said, “Well you should join up with the other singles and form one big group” she advised. I should have taken her advice. She did this every day, she knew what worked. Bad call on my part to smile and wave it off. As I was giving my number 022, I kept my bounce as we waited being let in which seem to drag on longer than the hours between 3 and 7. We were finally let in the gate at around 8:30 almost one by one, and herded underneath a massive awning where there where restrooms and a snack stand, along with a few vending machines, and a small CBS gift shop. I wanted so desperately to buy a PIR shot glass, despite the fact that they were $8.99. I had had a problem the other night with my card and had to cancel it and get a temporary card. One that didn’t have Visa capabilities, and I did not have enough cash to get it.
As I had feared sitting down and remaining still would be my undoing. From the moment we took our seats on the bench, where they gave us our oversized name tags and took down our social security information, I began to feel the effects of being awake for over twenty-four hours. I was tired but I was determined. Yet after another hour waiting for each person to be moved in and given their name tags, I felt like my limbs weighed more and more. After the name tags came the pictures which Mattie had already informed me were not the wonderful souvenirs that they advertised to us when we first sat down, but $20 souvenirs they wanted to sell you! After the slow picture taking process we were herded to a second set of benches where we would await our final judgment from the producers. Here I fell into and even deeper lull, kept awake only by my nervousness and the two dozen butterflies in my stomach. The guy beside me stood on the bench o nervous to sit. Mattie and her broad seemed relaxed, almost over the whole experience in their third day. I eyeballed the empty chairs where the producers were going to sit as they decided our fates. After nearly an hour of waiting for all three hundred potential contestants to get their pictures taken, then offered a quick print, out by a girl in super form fitting black stretch pants. How tight, well if I were a gynecologist I would have been able to perform my job on her without removing them. It was an insane experience. The CBS herders which I had dealt with at The David Letterman Show in New York, and just as then they were an overly chipper group of perfect cookie cutter young people who I’m sure were all aspiring actors. They jumped about like cheerleaders and tried to keep the energy up as we awaited the producer Stan who would be the Man (who decided if you were one of the 12 worthy of that day).
Now the interview process is quick, quicker than it should be for something so important, but something they have obviously down to a science. They move you in front of him in groups of 12 where he ask you quickly where you are from and what you do. Alas it was my extreme tiredness and proximity to Mattie I believe that did me in. When asked what I did and where I was from I said cook and he asked in return what do you cook and I stammered and said anything. “Anything they order right!” he said before touching his temples and saying “I feel the presence of Mattie”, with that it was over, I knew my chances were slim to none. I knew Mattie had it, I’m sure it showed on my face which more than likely solidified the deal. I was running out of juice. From the interview process which took all of ten minutes, we were herded again into another line where we awaited screening from a metal detector. Just our luck the walk through metal detector broke after the first person walked through it. We stood in the hot June sun and awaited a new one to be delivered. Once it arrived on the back of a golf cart from the Late Show with Craig Kilborn, it was found that it too did not work.
The Security team quickly switched to the hand wand and ushered us through. After emptying our pockets and getting the wand we were herded to yet another set of benches. This time with large flat screen televisions hanging overhead, and there were more restrooms which meant we would be here for awhile as well. A pretty young page whose face seemed even more familiar than the line coordinator, passed out some CBS magazines advertising their various shows with fake articles. I groaned as I fought off the sleep giant that loomed over me. My confidence was gone, and most of my energy as well. I was starting to see spots and feeling completely dehydrated I hadn’t had any liquids for several hours and my grumpy side was starting to come out. I tried to bury it by reading an article about the final season of Smallville which I didn’t know was affiliated with CBS, but if it wasn’t it was the only thing in the magazine that wasn’t. I didn’t care about the details, people were starting to get on my nerves and I just wanted to get in and not get called so I could go eat and sleep before going to see the Mountain Goats that night. Finally after another hour and a half at 12:10 we were told to stand up. We stood for another fifteen minutes, before we were let into the stairwell that led to the studio were the magic happens. Soon and very soon I would be in the hollowed place were the Dark Lord Bobby B. made so many dreams a reality!
…To be continued