Short Imagined Monologues
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Pat Sajak Tries to Talk Himself Into Going to Work Again.
BY JORY JOHN
It’s show time. Time to get out of bed. Let’s do this. Here we go. Getting up now. C’mon. One leg… then the next. No more sleeping, Pat. It’s past noon. I think. Where’s the clock?
I can’t do this anymore. I can’t. This is no way for a person to live.
YOU KNOW HOW MANY PEOPLE WOULD DIE TO BE IN YOUR POSITION, SAJAK? HUH?! Do you know how many aspiring game show hosts are out there, just waiting in the wings, ready to swoop in and steal your gig? Thousands, probably! Millions! Each better looking than the next, hair perfect, smiles pearly. You’re in your 60s, now, buddy boy. There aren’t any other career paths. This is what you do, man. You watch people spin a giant wheel and you watch them try to play glorified hangman. This is your life.
At least it makes people happy, right? Think of the smiling viewers on their plastic-covered sofas across America, not to mention the winners on the show. You were happy, once. When was that? It’s honestly hard to say. Never, maybe.
It’s not your fault, Pat. You didn’t know what you were getting into when Merv asked you to take over for Woolery in ’81. It’s true. How were you to know that it would turn into a thirty-year job? There was simply no way of knowing. What fucking game show lasts for 30 years?! None of them do!
OK, OK, Jeopardy!, yes, sure, but you know how happy Trebek is. That guy is the most miserable bastard on Earth. Remember trying to talk to him in Palm Springs a couple summers ago? What a pompous ass. Just because you’re around brainiacs all the time doesn’t make you a genius, Alex. I’ve never heard a guy so impressed with himself.
And these people. These contestants. Ed from Boston. Mary-Sue from Mississippi. Thomas from Baltimore. Josh from Salt Lake City. They’re sucking the life out of me. “Ooooh! I wanna buy a vowel. I wanna buy a vowel. I wanna buy a vowel. I WANNA BUY A VOWEL!” That single phrase can bring me to tears if I think about it too much. I’m crying now, a little. Yep, this is definitely a tear.
And Vanna. Speaking of crying. Man alive. If I have to smile at that woman one more time, I’m going to start fully sobbing on camera. Sure, we had a spark, at one point, but that was the 80s. We were children, basically, hungry for each other and for life… the fold in her gown resting just so as she revealed a consonant, a vowel. Things were different then. We were like teenagers: the late-night phone calls, the codependency. No one else knew what it felt like to be in the center of that hurricane. Like the Beatles before us, but more game show oriented. But that’s all in the past now. It’s all a blur, a rapidly spinning wheel, another missed opportunity.
And that “WHEEL! OF! FORTUNE!” chant that starts every show. That shit wakes me up at night. Sometimes I bolt upright while screaming it. My poor wife. I haven’t slept past 3 a.m. since… what? 1986, probably? It hurts to think about it.
I miss doing the weather. I miss being a DJ. I was considered hip, once. People thought I had an edge to me. Like Sting. What happened to me since then? Where did I diverge on my path, into this insane world of “Before and After” puzzles? Let me do it over again. Please. I beg you. Let me tell Merv Griffin to shove his job-offer up his ass. Let me move to a ranch in the midwest and steer cattle. Or live in Asia! Or get that sailboat! Or act! I could’ve been another DeNiro. I had chops.
Anything! Just… anything. [Sigh.] This is a real kind of depression over here. I feel so… bankrupt. I said it.
Shit, that’s the phone. Why won’t they just let me be? They’ve noticed I’m not there. They always notice.
Well, obviously they’ve noticed. I’m the host. I’m the HOST. I’m the mother-effing host of Wheel of Fortune. Not everybody can say that. In fact, no one else can say that. And I’m famous beyond my wildest dreams. I’m probably one of the most well-known faces on Planet Earth. I’m in people’s homes every single night. This job has brought me wealth and notoriety and the adoration of millions. And great seats at great restaurants! Yes! Also, I only work four days a month. It’s maybe the lightest work-schedule in the history of man.
People will remember me when I die. They will mourn the loss. Entertainment Tonight will do a segment. I will be on the front of newspapers and magazines. It will be noticed. Papa Sajak would be proud. Poor Papa, who tried to explain the world to me as I sat on his lap. I was just a boy then, with hopes like any other boy. Papa worked so hard for us.
Ugh. You can do this, Sajak. You can get up.You can go to work again. You can smile at Vanna and watch Randy from San Diego or Todd from Colorado spin the wheel. You can. YES YOU CAN. You will listen to them buy vowels and act thrilled if there’s an “A” or an “E,” or “I” or “O” or “U.” You will watch a “Before and After” pop up and avoid shuddering or softly weeping or screaming expletives into the camera. You can do this and you will do this.
One leg… then the next, Patrick. One leg… and then the next. C’mon. No more sleeping. Let’s do this. For Papa. Time passes so quickly. It’ll go by in a flash and end with a buzzer. Let’s solve this puzzle, buddy boy. It’s show time.
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