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A Family Affair
Travis Eberle

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 room.

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


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