"I'D LIKE TO BUY A VOWEL"
"Wait! Wait! Hold the door," he yelled as he raced down the brightly lit corridor.
The Studio D sign and the familiar, round, black and white American Broadcasting Corporation's abc icon on the wall, were just a blur.
"Hurry, the auditions are about to start," shouted the thin, smug, bespeckled assistant director from behind the half closed "Wheel of Fortune" stage door.
"You're lucky! The director was caught in traffic, or else your audition would have ended, before you even got a chance to open the door!"
"Sorry I'm late, practice went long today," replied the noticeably fit man dressed in a black and red sweat suit adorned with a black falcon logo.
"Practice? You practice? C'mon, you really practice?" The assistant director asked in disbelief.
"Hell yeah! During the season, I practice with the team five days a week; in the offseason, I practice six days a week--- Besides the grueling physical workouts, we study film, strategize and game plan every week."
"Study film? Strategize? You must be a sensational turner!"
"Turner? Yeah, that's me, Michael Turner, running back for the Atlanta Falcons. Sensational? I like to think I turn some heads; I'm big, strong, possess good speed, agility, power and finesse."
"That's good Turner, but before we go into the auditions, you'll have to sign this waiver; it's the standard contract that everyone in the industry uses. Remember, you know everything in these auditions is strictly confidential. Nothing can be repeated. Do you understand?"
"You must keep everything strictly confidential."
"Yeah, I got it; like Vegas."
"What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas!"
"Yeah, you got it! What I am about to tell you is to be held in strict confidence, you understand?"
"I got it."
"Vanna is thinking about retiring. She's been on The Wheel of Fortune since 1982, and is looking to pursue other interests."
"Who?" questioned Turner.
"She wants to spend more time with her family, and may take up calligraphy."
"...So, Turner, you say you're great?" uttered the assistant director.
"When I was in college at Northern Illinois, I was considered the best! I broke all the school records and finished second in the nation, twice! They called me ???Turner the Burner', because I was so good!"
"That's some resume'; I saw you running down the hall--- You're pretty fast too, just how quick are you?"
"In college I ran the 40 yard dash in 4.47 seconds."
"Wow, that's fast!"
"People tell me, I???ve got wheels."
"You're fast... and have wheels? You're a perfect candidate for The Wheel, but there are quite a few quality candidates here today."
"Well, I appreciate the chance. It's one of my life goals."
"This is one of your life goals?"
"Hell yeah! Who wouldn't want to be featured on Biography? I mean, anyone can get on MTV Cribs..."
"Biography? No, you must have the wrong studio."
"I'm in studio B, the Biography Channel, right?" asked Turner. "This is ???The NFL Wheel of Fortune', isn't it?"
"Sorry, you're in Studio D, The Wheel of Fortune! We are auditioning for letter turners, or I should say, ???touch screeners' for the vacancy soon to be left behind by Vanna White."
"I'm in the wrong place! I need to get to The NFL Wheel of Fortune in Studio B! The Biography Channel selected a group of players who hit it big in the NFL, and I am one of them."
"Well, if you make it, you'll be about 45 minutes too late. Studio B was relocated last month to its own facility about 20 minutes away, but with traffic, it's going to take a lot longer," said the assistant director. "Since you are here, why don't you try out for the ???turner' position? You're fast, strong, agile and have been practicing a great deal."
"...I guess so... They don't call me ???Turner the Burner' for nothing!"
"That's the spirit!" said the assistant director. "Here, take this number and have a seat over there."
"Man, this must be a hot job," said Turner. "There must be hundreds of people here!"
"Yeah, I know, what's your name?" asked candidate #242.
"Michael Turner, what's yours?"
"Charles White, I'm from LA; where you from?"
"...The Charles White from USC, and the 1979 Heisman Trophy winner?"
"Yeah, that's me."
"Wow! I remember watching highlight film of you when I was a kid! You were great! How long have you been waiting here?" asked Turner."
"I got here at seven a.m."
"Damn, you have been here for six hours... and you haven't been called yet?"
"What are those shoes for?" inquired Turner.
"They're my lucky Dancing With the Stars shoes; I'm trying out for the show after this audition!"
"When I saw Warren Sapp on the show; he inspired me to try out---- If a big ???ole NFL lineman can dance, surely a nimble footed Heisman Trophy winner can do it!"
"Oh, I'm sorry," said Charles. Let me introduce you to LenDale White; he's a fellow Trojan and now runs the ball for the AFC leading Tennessee Titans."
"It's a pleasure to meet you Michael," responded LenDale.
"Can I ask you a question," Turner politely asked.
"Yeah, what's up?"
"I don't mean to be rude LenDale, but why are you wearing solid white from head to toe? Shoes, belt, slacks, shirt... Isn't it considered a fashion faux pas to wear white in New York in December?" questioned Turner.
"It's part of my persona; what are you going to do, penalize me?"
"Persona?" asked Turner.
"See this cd? It's my Sherwin Williams paint commercial. In it, I introduce to the world a new shade of white... the powerful, yet smooth, smashing ???n dashing, ???LenDale white'."
"What?" asked a befuddled Turner.
"You know, colors: Glossy white, fluorescent white, off white, bright white, egg shell white... why not ???LenDale white'?"
"The color is called ???LenDale white'? Huh? ...Maybe you should call Crayola and notify them of your new discovery!"
"Hey!" the man said, as he tapped Turner on his shoulder. "I'm Danny White, I'm from Dallas."
"Who?" a startled Turner questioned.
"Danny White, I played for the Dallas Cowboys."
"Are you related to Vanna White?"
"No. I was the starting quarterback for The Dallas Cowboys for about seven seasons and was voted to the Pro Bowl in '82," boasted White.
"Sorry, I was born in 1982."
"I should have been a Pro Bowler a few more times, but playing in the same division as Joe Montana and Joe Theismann... I remember the Christmas Day game at home against [Ron] Jaworski and the Eagles..."
"What's going on? Am I in the ???whites only' section? Everyone here is named White! Who's next my teammate Roddy White, or the ghost of Steel Curtain great, Dwight White and ???The Minister of Defense', Reggie White?"
"Vanna is one of the judges," stated Danny. We thought we could increase our chances if we shared the same last name."
"Number #656, you're up!" shouted the assistant director.
"What about the other guys?" questioned Turner.
"Never mind the others," the assistant director sternly warned.
"I don't mean to be rude, but the others were here..." Turner politely inquired.
"We're moving in a different direction," the director quickly responded. "White has been played out. It's time for a change, something new, fresh and different. Were losing market share to reality TV and the game show network! We have to turn things around."
"I can do it," barked Turner, "I'm new! I'm game changer! I am a ???turner ???rounder'!"
"Tell it to the judges!" replied the assistant director.
"Judges? There are judges?"
"Who did you expect? Ryan Seacrest and bank of phone lines! No, the director, Vanna White and Pat Sajak are selecting the next ???turner.'"
"Before you perform the duties of ???turner,' we'd like to ask you some questions to test your mental ability," said the director.
"There are over 100 people backstage who are just as qualified as you, so what makes you think that you are capable to take my position?" asked Vanna.
"Your lineage?" a perplexed Vanna asked. "Please explain."
"I come from a long line of professional ???turners': It started in the 1960's with J.T., Jim Turner, the outstanding kicker of the New York Jets. In the 1980's it was K.T., Keena Turner, the great outside linebacker for the San Francisco 49ers. In the new millennium it was my teammate and mentor, future Hall-of-Fame running back of the San Diego Chargers, running back L.T., Ladainian Tomlinson and now me, M.T., Michael Turner!"
"But Ladainian is not a ???turner'," questioned the director.
"Oh, yes he is! Ask anyone in San Diego, not only is he a ???turner', he's a game breaker!"
"Okay, you come from a long line of ???turners', but are you the best turner?" questioned Vanna.
"I think they should play ???Solve the Puzzle,'" said Sajak. "Give Charles, LenDale and Turner the first puzzle. You know the rules, right?"
"Can you just...?" Turner started to say.
"Since all of you are qualified for the job, we're going to skip right to the Final Spin Round. Each letter is worth $1000, it's a person, ten letters, two words and to speed up play, it's a sports figure. Charles, you're first."
"There is one S." _ _ _ _ S _ _ _ _ _
"No. LenDale, your turn," said Sajak.
"One B." _ _ _ _ S _ _ B _ _
"Turner, your selection."
"Yes, there is one G," replied Sajak. _ _ _ _ S G_B_ _
"Charles, your turn."
"Are there any V's?"
"There is one V, three seconds, Charles." _ _V_S G_B _ _
"I'd like to buy a vowel," said Charles. "Give me an E."
"One E." E_V_S G_B_ _
"I'll guess Elvis ..." said, Charles.
"No, LenDale, your turn.
"Give me an L."
"One L." ELV_S G_B_ _
"No! Turner, it's your turn."
"I'd like to buy a vowel. Give me an E."
"Buzz. No E," replied Sajak.
"What do you mean, no E?" claimed Turner."The guy's name is Elvis Gerbac. He went to Michigan and quarterbacked the Kansas City Chiefs."
"No, your answer is incorrect," Sajak firmly stated.
"Don't tell me I'm wrong! I know who he is!"
"You bought a wrong vowel."
"I bought a wrong vowel?" Turner shockingly questioned.
"You bought another E; there is no E, in G-R-B-A-C."
"S-A-J-A-K! Have you looked at how you spell your name? If you're so smart, maybe you should BUY A CONSONANT!"
Copyright 2008 Steve Kay