continued, "Lucky, lucky," to which I answered, "And boy, am I glad
you are not my wife."
the field narrowed, I changed my strategy. Instead of voting off
the weakest contestant, I considered eliminating those who were
most likely to get in my way. After all, I viewed this endeavor
as a paycheck.
I suspected that I had a better chance against Michelle, the college
administrator, than with Martin, a bio-statistician and game show
veteran. We played the best of five questions for the win. On
the fourth question, being one up on Michelle, I had my chance.
I won $97,500 answering that the U.S. Open was the Grand Slam
tennis tournament played in Flushing Meadow Corona-Queens. And
to think that my weakness was sports.
I left Los Angeles on the first flight out. Unfortunately, I was
contractually sworn to secrecy and couldn't tell anyone the results
until my episode aired two weeks later.
On April 23, without knowing the outcome, my family watched the
program with me at my parents' home. It was a surreal, out-of-body
experience. I was once again racked with nerves as if I, too,
were witnessing this for the first time.
We arrived home the following morning to 42 emails and 37 phone
messages. It was time to install a second line and hire a public
relations firm to field the calls and offers. After all, I could
afford it now, right?
I was a local celebrity, making the front page of numerous local
newspapers and featured on the evening news. The buzz continued
for two weeks through an appearance on NBC's "Today Show" to my
expert testimony on "Sally."
Imagine my surprise when, as I was loading mulch at the local
nursery in my gardening-sweaty best, a woman pulls up in a station
wagon and yells out the window, "You look like the guy who won
on the 'Weakest Link' Monday night!" No doubt she found it difficult
to believe that someone who had just won nearly a hundred grand
would be loading his own mulch and driving a 1991 Nissan Sentra
without a decent chip of paint left on it.
It was a relief that, as the hype died down, the phones stopped
ringing. But at the same time, I had tasted the bit of fame that
every performer secretly desires. I was glad to have won only
$97,500. It was enough to make our lives significantly better,
but not enough to fend off phone calls from long-lost relatives
and financial planners.
I only hope that Andy Warhol was wrong and we actually get more
than 15 minutes--how about an hour or two? And as for reality
television, there is very little real about it. *
James Joyce is an actor Off-Broadway, in television,
feature films, and commercials, and looks forward to performing
in a Broadway musical as soon as possible. He thanks Vivaldi,
the Red Priest, for giving him this opportunity.
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