There’s a dangerous addiction gene in my lineage. I’m not talking substance abuse that—unless you are fortunate—afflicts many families. Though my lineage is no exception to that, this post is about another kind of addiction: game shows.
On my mother’s side, the women all carry a weakness for the “game”. I can’t pinpoint the appeal, I can’t say what must be missing from our lives that only a game show can fill. Nor can I summarize how many hours are wasted in front of the “game”. All I can say is this: the threat of addiction is not only real but passed on to the next generation. It’s like a seed lying dormant, waiting for the drop of water so it can flourish, grow, spread like a weed.
As a child, I was addicted to game shows. My mom was too, which is how my seed was watered. As soon as I was of legal age to do so, I went on The Price is Right. Looking back, I’m glad I wasn’t picked, I’m terrible at knowing what things cost. My mom went on Let’s Make a Deal. My mom and I both recovered, been on the wagon nearly thirty years.
My ten-year-old daughter is the one person my family you would least expect to become addicted. She’s wise beyond her years. The mature one who puts up with my silliness with the heavy sigh of one who’s patient to wait until I grow out of it. An honor student with enough academic awards to wallpaper my house. In her ten years, the only game show she’s been exposed to is Who Wants to be a Millionaire? and Are You Smarter than a Fifth Grader? Which don’t count as negatives since they are educational.
Her fall from grace—and into the waiting arms of Deal or No Deal, Family Feud, Match Game, Baggage, and all the rest—is all my fault due to my ever-growing desperate need to write. I have submission deadlines to magazines, the ones who announce that after such and such date submissions will be closed for two, three, sometimes six months.
Throughout my busy summer, I watched helplessly as deadlines came and went. Each missed chance had a cumulative effect, and the desperation mounted until I paid less and less attention to how my daughter and I spent our day, to what she was doing, and whatever it was, whether it was conducive to her well being.
I observed the game show network lineup in passing. I did not linger. That would be like an alcoholic passing a bar wherein she knows the bar is there, she’s just knows never to go inside. So linger I did not. I diverted my eyes and made excuses for her viewing: “It’s summer, let ‘er chill.”
Chill, she did. Her addiction came swift, before I could come to my senses, before my guilt could set in, it was there. She does not call any friends for play dates. She does not go swimming anymore. Her bedroom, which was always spotless before, is now showing signs of neglect: unmade bed, strewn clothes and debris. Her toys are put away, though. Because she does not play with them anymore. A few days ago she had a friend over (the other girl initiated it) and she hesitated to turn the TV off. I knew then she was a goner.
Still, I reasoned that in a few weeks she’ll be back in school and she can detox there, meanwhile I’ll get some writing done. (I know I’m terrible, but writing is an addiction too, ya know.)
But yesterday the alcoholic stepped inside the bar and ordered a drink. Yes it happened, my seed was watered. Thirty years on the bandwagon and I fell off. I sat on the sofa for some girl time and next thing you know, I too was covering my eyes, afraid of what was behind the case on Deal or No Deal. After that was Family Feud and we shouted the answers together, then we yelled at the set at Baggage (by far the dumbest game show on television, but when you’re an addict it is impossible to tear yourself away). Even this post is written during commercials. It’s 11:00 am and we haven’t eaten breakfast yet. I wonder who will feed us. We are still in pajamas—who cares. My sister is coming tomorrow. I wonder how the house will get cleaned. Her plane arrives at noon. How can I pick her up when Lingo is on? Oh and one last thing. Tomorrow is the 31st, a popular deadline for many of my selected favorite magazines. I guess I can wait another six months. Commercial over, gotta go.
Question: Has your obsession ever come back to bite you? And, um, if you don’t mind sharing, what is your favorite game show?