A Family Affair
Game shows have
always been part of my life. I sat next to my dad
watching Jack and Wink ask insanely easy questions from
7 to 7:30. And yes, even at the age of five years old,
they were still insanely easy. After the hour, he'd go
back to studying for the bar, and I'd go to sleep.
In 1999, Millionaire was sweeping the country. Some of
my friends got into it, others didn't. But the show
managed to do something I hadn't seen since the reruns
of "Press Your Luck" on the USA Network. On night four,
David Honea was struggling with that pesky $32,000
question that sapped away all of his lifelines. My
sister was sitting there, right with me, hoping that
David would come up with the right answer. He did, of
course, and things were never as exciting as those two
weeks in August and November, but my sister has never
since volunteered to watch a game show with me in the
And then there's "family time."
Whenever all four of us (me, Sis, Dad and Stepmom) are
together for dinner, there's something that we do
together if we're home. From 7 to 8 we watch Wheel of
Fortune (yeah, I know...) and Jeopardy! Dinner is always
ready at 6:55, and we're set in time for the opening
toss-up. Wheel is when we all get a chance to catch up
with each other: what happened that day, what plans we
have for the weekend, and so on. This is possible
because wheel is a fairly slow game, with lots of down
time- the wheel spinning, commercials and all. This
isn't possible during Jeopardy, because the questions
come fast and furious, so conversation is necessarily
kept to a minimum.
Most families would have their dinner around the table,
and think of eating while watching television, or in the
master bedroom as preposterous. You can also bet that
the kids didn't have much fun, and the parents didn't
get much information out of them either. Everyone loses.
Our way is great: I get to show off for the family while
playing with Wheel, everyone gets together for an hour
each day and we all have a good time. Everyone wins.
I have no reason not to believe that game shows are
going to be a big part of my life from now on. If I get
married, she's going to have to be OK with that, but
hopefully she'll enjoy them as well. I have lots of life
left to live, and many game shows to watch, some of
which haven't even been created yet.
Travis Eberle worships at the altar of Merv regularly. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.