Wednesday, June 8, 2011
This is Part One. Part Two can be found here.
I wasn’t announcing it, but today was the day I was scheduled to go on the game show I had mentioned a couple of times. The show called on Sunday to say it would be early this week, and then on Tuesday to say I would be going on on Wednesday, with a call time of 5 pm.
My plan for Wednesday is to get showered, shave my face and the back of my neck, trim my hair around the ears, and make sure I didn’t mess up the fake tan from the night before. At 12:30 I got an unexpected call.
12:30. “How quickly can you make it in here?” asks the show. I say, “As soon as you need me to, but my clothes aren’t ironed.” She’s okay with that and I’m off to the studio.
1:02. I arrive at the studio and I’m escorted down to a big room where there are people lounging on couches and talking to each other. I get signed in, and I can’t wait for my premiere on a real game show.
1:06. I grab some food they have provided and sit near some people. They’re asking each other trivia questions. There is the girl I will come to know as Lisa, there is an energetic Hobbit like guy, a couple other jovial guys, and a man named Jules.
1:41. There is discussion in the group about how whenever someone goes to wardrobe they get put in bright clothes that signify their job.
1:43. The Energetic Hobbit jokes that he wonders what they’ll put me in since I’m unemployed. Fairly blunt, but I was also wondering the same thing.
1:51. I share the story with my group about being called in early. The Energetic Hobbit says, “Where were you when they called you?” I said, “At home.” He responded, “Oh, that’s right, you don’t have a job, where else would you be?”
1:52. It sinks in to me that what the Halfling just said was a passive aggressive joke in my direction.
2:13. We all have name tags with a different colored circle on them. Someone who had been there since 7 am said that we’re divided into groups. I was yellow.
3:03. No one knows anything. There are many different theories out there about everything. It’s all theories because they tell us nothing.
3:11. The room is windowless, there aren’t any clocks, and we weren’t allowed to bring our phones in. At first, I think it’s like a casino, where they don’t want you to know the time.
3:13. I’ve realized that the scenario is more like a prison. The people that have been there the longest explain to the new kids what is going on, what it’s like on the inside. I start caring for a flock of pigeons.
3:30. The producer with the really long, really white teeth calls me over. This is big, they don’t show their faces very often. Here was our exchange.
Long Teeth: Tell me about your knowledge.
Long Teeth: So, you’re really really good at pop culture?
Jeff: I’m not sure. I’d say I’m good.
Long Teeth: So, you’re way above most people in pop culture?
Jeff: I wouldn’t say that.
Long Teeth: What do you do for a living?
Jeff: I’m an actor
Long Teeth: Yeah, but what do you do to pay the bills?
Long Teeth gives back a blank stare.
Jeff: My wife is supporting me right now while I look since I just moved.
Long Teeth: Okay, thanks.
3:42. I’m back sitting and talking to the other prisoners.
4:11 They send the green group up to the stage.
4:13 One of the PAs rushes and grabs me saying they want me up their too. This is it, it’s finally happening. She rushes me to the join the green group. We get escorted on to stage. It’s big set, there are a lot of lights, and cameras, and a live studio audience. There are 11 of us and only ten podiums. I’m the extra guy.
4:23. We’re escorted off stage, as the group before us walks up to film the next episode.
4:29. I’m back in the prison.
4:37. Agony starts setting in. They’re telling us nothing.
4:42. I’m starting to regret my answers to the producer. It should have gone like this.
Long Teeth: Tell me about your knowledge
Jeff: I’m good at everything.
Long Teeth: Are you good at pop culture?
Jeff: I’m great at pop culture!
Long Teeth: Like really really good at pop culture?
Jeff: I’m really, really good at pop culture!
Long Teeth: What do you do for a living?
Jeff: I’m a freelance writer (blog).
5:03. Adam sits down. I explain to him what is going on, since I’ve been in the prison longer. I tell him to stay away from the Sisters.
5:15. We are really trying to figure out what is going on. Some people are playing Yahtzee, some are coming out of wardrobe looking like Easter, while Lisa, Adam, and I plot who we will want on our side if we have to stay a week down there while food is scarce.
5:17. We decide our group will first kill the Energetic Hobbit, who is now stacking water jugs as high as he can.
5:23. They let us outside for supervised recess. We stand in the yard and talk. It’s the first time we’ve seen the outside for hours.
5:26. I’m walking the perimeter hoping to find an opening where I can make my break.
5:49. Back downstairs I’ve stopped caring if I make it on TV and win a lot of money, or not. I just want my life back. I want to remember that there are good things in this world.
6:18. People are being woken up if they’ve fallen asleep. Napping is not allowed.
End of Part One.