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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Patience (08/21/08)

TITLE: What's My Line?
By Dee Yoder


It’s a snowy Sunday evening in 1956 and I’m standing backstage at the CBS Studio in New York, pinching myself because I just saw my favorite person, Bennett Cerf, walk onto the set…wish I could have two minutes alone with him in the Green Room.

“Five minutes to curtain, everyone! Five minutes!” the director calls.

I glance around, assessing my chances of going on first. The guy across from me is also a farmer…farms frogs, of all things. We’re told the most interesting occupation will go out first. I have my fingers crossed that I’m it.

Suddenly, the bright lights come on, and the panel members make their entrances. The audience oohs and ahs over the ladies’ dresses and laughs like crazy at Fred’s introduction of Arlene. Then, Mr. Bennett Cerf is announced, and my heart flutters as he swishes past me. He bumps me just a bit and automatically reaches out to steady me as he says, “Oh, excuse me.” I die. He touched my arm!

The game show gets under way as I tap my foot impatiently, waiting to hear who will be first. Wouldn’t you know it? That silly frog farmer gets to go before me!

I listen as the panel stumbles through their questions. They lose because, of course, no one can believe that a person would actually farm frogs. John Daly flips all the cards over, and the man wins fifty bucks. Gotta listen carefully because my hero is speaking.

“Uh…Sir, do you ever feel like you have a frog in your throat?” Bennett questions. The audience roars, and John has a coughing fit laughing out loud, but that frog farmer just says, “Huh?” He doesn’t get it! I shake my head in disgust. Just let me get out there…I hope Bennett says something witty to me…I know a good joke when I hear one.

They break for a commercial, and when the countdown starts again, I’m ready and waiting for my cue…c’mon…the show’s clock is ticking down, and I just gotta get out there and shake Bennett’s hand.

The director comes my way, but can you believe this? He’s pointing to the guy who makes glasses for chickens! The guy gives me a Cheshire grin and toddles out on stage to sign in.

Oh man! The special mystery guest will be next…if they both bomb, I should still have time to get in on the last segment for the evening.

I peak around the corner as the chicken optometrist strolls across the stage to meet the panelists. I’m envious when he shakes Bennett’s hand. Time runs out before they can narrow down his silly job, and Bennet throws his head back and guffaws as the man’s occupation is announced. I love Bennett Cerf. What a guy!

Chicken man scoots past me on his way to the door, and I look around for the mystery guest. In the corner I spy a has-been actress, and I smile. She won’t be out there long…good, good, good.

The actress struts out after the panel has their masks on. The panel takes forever to name her, and I begin to eye the clock…five minutes left! And then, I’m getting the signal, and before I know it, I’m sashaying out under the bright lights. I can’t believe it!

John watches me sign in; and my fingers are shaking as I put down the chalk. He grabs my arm and pulls me to the desk…I have to sit down! No walk to greet the panel. No Bennett Cerf. Oh man!

“Panel, we only have one minute to guess, so lets start the game with…uh…Miss Killgallen.”

No! I scream inside…start with Mr. Cerf…Mr. Cerf!

I dully answer Dorothy’s questions and then, Fred Allen’s and then, Arlene Francis’…maybe we’ll get to Bennett after all…the clock is ticking, and I see John glancing offstage to the director, who is making a slashing motion across his throat…wrap it up!

“Well panel, I’ll have to flip the cards because we’ve run out of time. Miss Standford is also a farmer--a turkey farmer!” John stands and shakes my hand, and I barely have time to glance Bennett’s way as I exit…he’s smiling at me! I nod to him, and he nods back. Yes!

Afterwards, I slosh my way through the messy snow back to the subway. I have a check in my pocket for fifty bucks and a silly smile on my face. Bennett Cerf…what a nice man! I sigh, and so personable, too.

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This article has been read 975 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Shirley McClay 08/28/08
Very fun and imaginative! I love the crazy jobs. Although turkey farmer is definitely (obviously)the least crazy... we had turkeys when I was a kid too.

Anyway.. you had me tense and hoping they would be next!
Jan Ackerson 08/31/08
Oh, Dee, I love your mostalgia-rich pieces. I don't suppose there are many people around who remember this wonderful game show--I loved it!

Really fun, light-hearted piece. Terrific reading.
Verna Cole Mitchell 08/31/08
One reason I enjoyed this show was that I had actually seen it on a field trip to New York with a high school senior class. The other reason is for the excellence of the writing. Your mc was so real, and the sarcastic voice was fun.
Yvonne Blake 08/31/08
oh... all the way through, I"m saying to myself "Pick her, Pick her! Hurry up!"
Well written!
Patricia Turner08/31/08
I hate to admit I'm old enough to remember this show! What a cute, creative take on the topic. Sorry she didn't get to meet her hero, but maybe she wouldn't have walked away with 50 bucks. :-) Great writing!
Laury Hubrich 08/31/08
How in the world did you ever think of writing this story? How funny. You never cease to amaze me! Awesome work, as always!!!
Laury Hubrich 08/31/08
How in the world did you ever think of writing this story? How funny. You never cease to amaze me! Awesome work, as always!!!
Sharlyn Guthrie08/31/08
Wow! How did you remember so many details, or even come up with this for the topic? Very creative! I definitely remember people talking about this show, but my family didn't own a TV at the time. You did an excellent job of making us feel the contestant's impatience.
Betsy Markman09/01/08
Oh, I love this! I'm not old enough to remember this version of "What's My Line" as live TV, but I fell in love with the reruns on Game Show Network. I can't tell you how many episodes I watched over the years, and I felt like I knew all of those guys. So when you mention John Daly (my favorite), and Bennett, and Dorothy, and Arlene, I felt like you were talking about old friends. (Oh, and I loved it when Steve Allen was on the panel. Another favorite.)

Thanks for the memories!
Lynda Schultz 09/01/08
Shades of black and white TV! I remember the show too—but they never showed us what was going on backstage. Thanks for the wonderful glimpse.
Joshua Janoski09/02/08
I've seen old episodes of this show on TV, and so I was able to follow along with the story quite easily. A very fun blast to the past!
Leah Nichols 09/03/08
I feel a little lost....guess I'm too young and haven't seen the reruns. Maybe it would help me if I knew the context better, rather than trying to figure out the inside joke. :)
Beckie Stewart09/03/08
I really liked this. I think it was my favorite entry all week so far.
LauraLee Shaw09/04/08
Fab, creative, witty, just incredible! Now what else was I going to say? I forgot my line. ;)
Beth LaBuff 09/06/08
Excellent creativity Dee! This is great!