The tickets say the doors open at 6:30. My mind says, Get there at 1 PM. Meeting somewhere in the middle, Eddie and I decided that we could get to the city to hop on the line around 4:30 or 5. We'd get there, see where the line was forming, get something to eat, and go back.
I'm not the craziest person in the world. When we got there to check out where the line would be, there was already a line. We found the line for the theater quickly thanks to a passerby who heard me saying, I'm not sure where it is....and he jumped in and said, Where you headed? without stopping. Eddie said, The theatre, and as the guy flew down one flight of stairs, he pointed up another and said, Go there!
It was a day of nice people in New York.
Once we saw three gated areas already filled with people, we quickly grabbed a bag of M&Ms from a food stand and hopped on the very end of the covered line. The sleet, snow, and rain was coming down hard and the wind whipped through with a chill. Security, seeing that the line was about to double in length in about five minutes, began making the gates wider and asking everyone to huddle in to get people out from the sleet, snow, and rain. See? Nice.
Not nice were the very annoying people who were in a big group but scattered throughout the cage we were in. Eddie and I were smack dab in the middle and seemed to be the only people who had no wiggle room. Everyone else was on a cell phone, shouting across everyone at each other, or getting off and on the line with fast food. The tickets say No Cell Phones, yet everyone had a phone. If that's how they planned to enforce the rules, I could have brought a weapon, too, since the tickets say No Weapons Of Any Kind.
When Security decided to let some of us in the last cage to move into the middle cage, I almost got trampled by old ladies. Eddie and I also got caught behind the large family group because they were standing right between us and the opening to go through while yelling behind and over us, Aunt Beth! Aunt Beth! We're going!
Friggin Aunt Beth! She didn't get her ass in gear and no one went anywhere, including us. The next time the guard came over to let more people through, he instructed, Make sure you are with your group now so that you can be together as you go through. Thank you. I don't know if Aunt Beth made it because Eddie and I maneuvered around the family and got to the second gate.
All of this was moot because in a few more minutes, they made one big cage to get people out of the rain. And then we started heading in well before 6:30, which was really nice of them to do since the rain was still coming down and the temperature hovered around 30 / wind chilled to 20.
Inside was much like being outside except without wind. We were on a line with people who didn't quite understand what being on a line meant. Since we were inside, we were guaranteed seats. That meant nothing to the four old ladies near us who were complaining to each other about who was in front of them and who was behind them and how people who were supposed to be behind them got in front of them.
The thankful distractions were the monitors that showed the current taping going on while we waited for the next set and the ushers who were showing people where the bathrooms were. Whenever we guessed what the puzzle was on the monitors, the ushers would clap and cheer. Nice people.
Then Eddie made a friend. One of the puzzles was really long and the category was something like Proper Names. A contestant bought an O and Eddie said, It's all the people on Friends--Chandler, Monica, Joey, Phoebe, Rachel, and Ross. One of the old ladies was like, Oh, yes, it's the Friends--you're good. What kind of hussy hits on a man who's standing there with his wife? Thankfully, she went to the bathroom with her friend; the other two promised to save their spots in line.
One of the Wheel Of Fortune people called for our attention, instructing us to walk slowly and follow her without trampling her. We knew she worked for Wheel because she was wearing a pin shaped like the wheel and it lit up all glittery!
Then we started moving and the two ladies left on line panicked. How would their friends find them? The nice usher caught up to the ladies and promised to bring their two friends up to find them. See how nice people are?
More standing. More waiting. Literally two hours. The older people around us were starting to cramp up. I'm in pretty good shape and my back was hurting. It was a long wait. The only people who seemed unaffected by this standing around forever were the children--many of whom looked to be under 8 even though the tickets say No Children Under 8 Allowed--and the scattered family who were walking up and down the line, finding each other, on the phone with each other. Seriously.
When we finally got into the theatre, it all became so real. There was the board! There was the wheel! There were the podiums for the contestants! There was the NYC set complete with the skyline and the Brooklyn Bridge and the Statue of Liberty!
We filled in the seats where the Wheel Of Fortune audience wranglers told us to go. Who sat next to us? The four old ladies. They practically fell asleep as soon as they sat down. They'd been there since 2 PM, you know--eating, window shopping, and then waiting on line. I guess on the inside, I'm an old lady since I'd wanted to get there even earlier. When we settled in, the woman behind us dropped her umbrella under Eddie's chair and he handed it back to her. A minute later, she stuck her head between us and asked if we could switch seats because Eddie's head was in the way. Being that it was Nice Person In New York City Day, we switched for her, realizing a few hours later, hey why didn't she switch with whomever she was with? But we're nice and we could still see so it didn't matter.
When more and more people began filing in from a different doorway, we realized that we could have gotten there later since the people coming in after us were being seated down closer to the stage. What gives? Still, I was happy not having stood in the sleet, snow, and rain, so not sitting closer was fine, especially since no seat was really too far to see.
When most of the theatre was full, we saw contestants walk in along with their own wranglers. The Wheel people didn't leave the contestants alone for a second. They prodded them, primped them, played simulated wheel spinning with them. They really prepped them well. Everyone was smiling and laughing.
To distract and entertain us, Jim Thornton, Wheel Announcer, came out to introduce and explain. He did a roll call--Manhattan? Queens? Brooklyn?.....He eventually got to Long Island...and then Governor's Island. Ha! That Jim Thornton is one funny dude.
He then introduced Bill Ritter and Sade Baderinwa from ABC7! The exclamation point is his, not mine. They came out and Bill Ritter did the same Governer's Island joke. It was really awkward but they didn't stop talking in an anxious way of entertaining. Sade Baderinwa plugged her charity, and then Bill Ritter mentioned "the tragedy of 9/11." Nothing says entertainment, hijinx, and fun like the mention of the most horrible terrorist attack on New York City--way to pump up the audience, Bill. Jim Thornton quickly steered them towards the wheel, where we learned that during the earlier taping, a different ABC7 personality had spun the wheel in the wrong direction.
Who spins the wheel in the wrong direction????? Seriously?????
This was apparently a dream of Sade Baderinwa, to spin the wheel, but apparently, they were short on time, so her spin was very quick and the wheel didn't even stop before Bill Ritter spun it and then they were walking away before it even stopped, and then the wheel technicians came in to shine it up one more time before taping. On their way out, they waved and said good bye while she plugged her charity one more time as Jim Thornton began handing the show over to one of the production people.
We all yelled Wheel of Fortune really loudly. Then we pretended that Vanna White and Pat Sajak were announced and screamed and shouted and applauded as the cameras swept through.
When the show was about to begin, we didn't actually yelled Wheel Of Fortune. They used a canned version. We were told, clap don't wave. So what did the guy two rows in front of me do? He waved. Idiot.
The breaking of rules didn't stop there. By the time the taping was through, everyone was waving, not clapping, and lots of people were whispering the puzzle answers to each other even though we were told multiple times DO NOT YELL OUT THE PUZZLE.
Pat Sajak is a funny funny guy. He's very quick. He's very personable. He's very genuine. OR he's a great actor who hates everyone and everything but lays it on thick when he's on stage. I'm hoping it's the former. Otherwise, I'd be devastated. Pat Sajak is proof of good people.
Also proof of good people? Vanna White. She so pretty. She claps so gracefully.
The two of them together have great great great chemistry, that of a lasting friendship that proves When Harry Met Sally doesn't hold true for at least this one instance. Pat and Vanna rib each other. At one point, Pat grabbed Vanna to dance a few steps. She spoke into his mic on his coat, and it wasn't raunchy. It was good clean fun, even when they were taping promos that were out of context and what they called boring but what I call very cool to watch.
The one thing that I didn't realize about Wheel Of Fortune was how much my hands would ache. Oh, the clapping. We clapped for everything. We clapped when we went to break. We clapped when we came back from break. We clapped when they spun the wheel. We clapped when they got a letter right. We clapped when they bought a vowel. We clapped when they solved the puzzle. We clapped when they won a prize. We clapped when the show was over.
That's when we could clap and wave, so the guy who had already been waving took to standing up halfway out of his chair and waving since he was ahead of the curve. He obviously has never seen a camera before because he was standing and waving when the camera was completely not facing him at all. I kept thinking, that kid is an idiot. Then towards the end he turned around and clapped and I saw that he was in his 40s. Proof that idiots come in every age.
Between tapings, Jim Thornton came back out and answered questions about the show. How heavy the wheel is. How big the letter board is. Where Vanna gets her dresses. Then Pat Sajak came into the audience and Eddie and I cringed as one guy three rows below bum rushed the aisle. We feared for Pat Sajak, but the guy was not quick enough, and Pat got away unscathed. He actually brought a boy down to the stage, introduced him to Vanna, and sent him back to his seat with a Wheel Of Fortune goodie bag. Jim Thornton informed us that we, too, would be receiving a prize for staying for both tapings. We'd be getting one of those light up wheel pins that all the staff were wearing!
This was now the happiest day of our lives. Free tickets AND free pins. And the pins LIGHT UP!
We got through the second taping while our hands went numb. Eddie showed me how to fake clap so that we could save our hands to clap when it really counted. At the end, my hands were only slightly numb, and I snapped some pictures even though we weren't supposed to take any pictures. I took mine quickly and slyly. The ushers were focused on those who had their phones held up high, blatantly taking pictures when they weren't supposed to be, going so far as to have their friends posing in front of the stage.
Outside, the rain was still pouring and the ground was a slushy mess and Eddie and I both got our jeans and shoes soaked through, but that was no match to kill the high we were on from seeing America's Game up close and personal. Next step? Be on the show as a contestant. It's gotta happen now. It's our destiny.
Attention Wheel of Fortune: Come back to New York. Host a Couples' Week. Let us play. Let us win.