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Column: What’s on your bucket list?

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I didn’t know I had a bucket list until my wife, Julie, told me I did. I should note that my bucket list is an exact mirror of the one she has spent years developing. At least, that’s what she also told me.

Anyhow, we checked off one of the items on our mutual bucket list last month. We made it onto “The Price Is Right.”

Appearing on the popular television game show has been a goal of Julie’s for several years. We even went so far a year or so ago to stand in a long line with hundreds of other “Price Is Right” wannabes for several hours under a hot Los Angeles sun, only to be told that the full slate of 200 audience members had already been selected. Our dreams of driving away in a “NEW CAR” or towing a “NEW BOAT” behind our Prius were shattered.

Our most recent trip to Los Angeles was solely to make it on “The Price Is Right” — fly out the day before, get into the show, fly back the next day.

We took this risk because Julie found an offer for priority tickets to “The Price Is Right” on the program’s website. It stated clearly that the designation guaranteed admission to the audience and an opportunity to be selected as a contestant.

She signed up for the offer and was elated to get a response that we had qualified for two priority passes on the date selected.

Ready for our closeup

She did extensive research on getting to be a contestant, noting that attention-getting shirts helped. That was confirmed in the days leading up to the trip when Columbus friend Sherry Stark reminded us that her long-distance running son Brian had won a goodly amount of prizes after producers took note of his shirt message: “I ran 3,000 miles to get on ‘The Price Is Right.’”

I used to think a T-shirt was expensive at anything more than $20. I now have a new appreciation for how expensive my wife can make a T-shirt. Our matching T’s featured individual photos of our pets (four cats, three dogs) that were embossed onto the shirts along with the message, “We love Bob and Drew and spay our pets, too.”

The message was a blatant appeal to the interests of the former and current hosts of the show (Bob Barker and Drew Carey) who have closed out each of the program’s 5,000 segments with a message urging fans to get their pets fixed.

We also practiced acting excited and cheering loudly on any occasion, warranted or not. That was another of the tips Julie had learned about getting selected as a contestant.

Off on the wrong foot

Despite all the assurances that we were sure things to at least make the audience, there was an ongoing sense of trepidation that something could go wrong. That dread was confirmed when we arrived at our destination and settled in at our hotel, which was across the street from the massive CBS television complex.

The next morning we walked to the gate to enter “The Price Is Right” studio but were stopped by a guard who put on a crestfallen look when we told him that we had arrived to be on the show.

“Oh my,” he said. “They’ve had to cancel taping because Drew broke his leg while rehearsing for “Dancing with the Stars.”

Our world and my Visa card collapsed at that message. My wife stammered about our plane ride, the expensive shirts, our hotel reservations and her disappointment around the last effort to get on the show. In the midst of that litany she stopped and said, “He couldn’t have broken his leg. He was eliminated a couple of weeks ago.”

That’s when the guard’s face lit up with a big smile, and he said, “I was just having fun with you.”

I definitely wasn’t having fun with him.

Anyway, it turns out we had gone to the wrong gate, and he redirected us to the right one. That marked the beginning of a four-hour program of waiting.

The ultimate test

There was a long line that moved from station to station. We filled out forms and promised not to tell anyone whether we made it onto the program as a contestant. Obviously, we couldn’t brag about winning that NEW CAR or NEW BOAT until after the program aired. In fact, one of the forms notified winners that they wouldn’t get any prizes until after the program aired.

Finally, we faced the ultimate test — an interview with one of the show’s producers and his assistant. He was the fellow who would select the contestants. I was ready when he came to me, sticking out my chest so that our pets and the “we spay” message were prominently displayed. He asked what I did for a living, and I shouted out that I worked for a newspaper and if he selected me, I would write a story about him and even spell his name right.

He just smiled and quickly went onto the next candidate.

On with the show

We were finally ushered into the studio and seated behind a bank of television cameras and other equipment. We had been told about the importance of being loud in our cheers throughout the show, and that message was reinforced when the producer who selected the contestants stood on stage and looked out at us as if to make his final choices. I jumped up and waved as his gaze moved in my direction, a practice followed by every other member of the audience.

When the show got underway, announcer George Gray read off the first four names of contestants. He has a loud voice, but it was no match for the audience, which was why one of the stagehands held aloft a large sign bearing the name of the contestant chosen.

That routine was followed seven more times, each member of the audience experiencing the same sense of angst as they waited to see if the stagehand had pulled out their name.

The program in which I was a member of the audience aired on WISH-TV (Channel 8) Wednesday. I am now legally free to acknowledge that although we were in the audience, neither Julie nor I was selected as a contestant.

Of course, that should be apparent since we have not been driving around town with a NEW BOAT behind our Prius.

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