Friday, May 1, 2009

Friday Fiction: What's My Line?

Here's a blast from the past, and if you're too young to remember this ancient game show, forgive me! This was one of my all-time favorite shows. I wrote this silly piece when the FaithWriters Writing Challenge topic was "patience". Hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. And don't forget, to read more great fiction, or to add your name to the list to link to your own Friday Fiction, just click here: Sharlyn's Dancin' on Rainbows.

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.


Lynn Squire said...

You had me leaning forward in great interest right to the end. I wanted so much to know what kind of a farmer she was. ;)

Teresa Lee Rainey . . . said...

How fun! I was hoping she would get to go onstage - and anxious to know what her occupation was.

Hard to be quirkier than a frog farmer and chicken eye-glass maker!

Sharlyn Guthrie said...

He-he! That Bennett Cerf was a charmer, wasn't he? I liked the behind-the-scenes POV. You did a great job of piquing our interest and building the suspense.

LauraLee Shaw said...

You are a master of short story fiction. Wowzer. I was glued to the screen!