Oh, perfect. This is just wonderful. I’m wide awake. It was that second wine spritzer, guaranteed.
I am not going to look at the clock. That’ll make it worse. I have to tape four shows tomorrow and I’m going to be a train wreck. Yet Vanna White — ever the loyal trooper — will just have to power through, per usual.
If anybody ever heard me complain, they’d probably say, “But Vanna just has to stand there and occasionally walk over and touch the letters as they light up. It’s not even a real job.”
But these hypothetical critics don’t realize that it’s all much harder than that. Who else in the world — other than maybe a teacher — has to seem genuinely interested in whether somebody says, “T” or “D” or “B”? Who else has to smile smile smile incessantly, to the point of chronic and everlasting jaw pain? Sometimes I just want to yell, “YOU try smiling nonstop for thirty-three years! YOU try clapping six thousand times in a single day and see how it makes your hands feel!” It doesn’t feel great, buster. Oh, no, it does not feel great. But I’m not allowed to yell. Nope! I’m not allowed to show any emotion, whatsoever. No emoting! I’m not allowed to be anything other than a prop to the puzzle.
Yes, Vanna Marie White: a human prop to the almighty puzzle. Merv certainly knew what he was doing when he hired me. He knew I’d make a fine accessory. Ugh. I’m getting agitated.
I guess I’ll check the clock.
Oh, golly… it’s three in the gosh-darned morning. What is it about three in the gosh-darned morning that makes everything seem so hopeless and dire? I didn’t go to bed depressed. Right? I fell asleep happily thinking about my glass-unicorn collection. It’s such a splendid assortment of some of the finest glass unicorns made in the USA. And beyond that, I have such a blessed life.
… there’s just something about having too much time to think that leads me into this terrible vortex. It’s not good for me. This is why it’s important to stay active. This is why it’s helpful to attend my book-club meetings and my spinning classes and my pottery sessions and my knitting groups. Since we only tape Wheel on Mondays, that gives me, what? Six full days of free time?
Goodness — I’ve never really thought about it like that. But yes, I’m free six out of seven days per week, every week, and I have more money than I know what to do with. Thirty million dollars, I’m told. I’m world famous and I’ve held on to my looks. Shouldn’t that be enough?
Yes, it should. But it’s not.
I could’ve kept acting. That was certainly my passion in high school. My TV movie Goddess of Love received decent reviews when it premiered in 1988. I made a great Venus. There’s no doubt about it.
But I never really did much auditioning after that. I let it go, completely. And I have no clear answer why. I could’ve been the next Goldie Hawn. But noooooooooo. I settled for the letter-touching and the mindless smiling and the endless clapping and the huge paychecks and the comfortable life and the never-challenging-myself AND THE SECOND WINE-SPRITZER AFTER 10 O’CLOCK, WHICH WAKES ME UP AT 3 IN THE GOSH-DARNED MORNING AND HERE WE ARE!
And the producers of Wheel give me, what? Thirty seconds at the end of every episode to banter with Pat about literally nothing? Even that had to be written into my contract. And leave it to Pat to fill twenty-nine of those seconds with his slick brand of patented smugness. I don’t even know what he’s prattling on about, half the time. So I just have to nod and laugh and gesture and wait for the red light on that camera to click off — wait for all of middle America to move on to Extra or TMZ or whatever show comes immediately after us — so I can tromp back to my dressing room and put on my comfy-pants and stare at myself in the mirror and wonder how I became … this. Vanna White. The personification of motorboats and excess.
Pat sure lost interest in me, by the way. We used to be so close and have all those late-night phone calls in the ‘80s… and sure, maybe I thought it was leading somewhere deeper… but then he started acting cold and distant, in that way where you couldn’t quite call him on it. If I ever said he was a total jerk to me, he’d probably act all hurt and pouty and I’d be the one who felt bad. Passive-aggressive Pat. That should be his nickname.
Whatever. It’s all in the past now. I don’t have to deal in the what-might’ve-beens, the White-Sajaks we could’ve created. I have a perfectly happy life and it’s odd to think about Pat as anything other than a coworker and sorta boss. But still — I see him every week and it’s hard not to dwell in the possibility, to paraphrase Emily Dickinson.
Darn darn darn. Three hours until I need to be in the limo, on the way to the studio. I need to sleep. Now.
Count the vowels as they jump over the fence, Vanna. Just count the vowels…
OK, there’s an A … and an E … I … O … O again … U … A, E, I, O, U … A, E, I … I … I … I ………………………… I ……………………………………………………. I ………………………………………. I ……. want more than this.