Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Let's Make a Deal

The year is 1974. The place is Hollywood, California. The weather is "hot as hell." But you don't mind. You've stood in line for three hours in the hopes that you'll make it through the doors. You're wearing an orange and yellow Hawaiian shirt, a brown fedora, a hot pink feather boa, green and blue plaid golf pants, and Keds hi-top sneakers in traditional white.

The doors open and people start filing in. You breathe a sigh of relief when you are counted as one of the studio audience, but relief soon turns to dismay when you see how far back your seat is. Before you get worked up about it, the lights come on, announcer Jay Stewart starts revving up the viewers, and then Monty himself walks out onto the stage. It's a whirlwind, people are screaming, deals are offered, decisions are made. And then, suddenly, he's standing next to you, every piece of hair perfectly shellacked in place.

He asks the next question and your eyes widen a bit. You rip open that massive, leopard-print tote bag hanging over your arm and start rifling through dental floss, Phillip's head screwdriver, tea bags, acorns, seashells, a lock of hair, a kazoo, and there it is...a pair of false teeth. You pull it out and wave it in the air. Monty doesn't even have to move. He's talking to you now and you feel a bit like Ralph Kramden on the $99,000 Answer episode. Hum-a-na-hum-a-na-hum-a-na.

Carol Merrill, that model with the legs up to here, walks into the aisle carrying a small table with a box on top of it. Monty offers you what is in that box or what is behind Curtain #1. You think a moment. Something big could be behind that curtain, but then again good things come in small packages. For all you know, Jay Stewart is sitting on an old tractor with a few bales of hay behind that curtain. You choose the box.

Carol flashes her trademark smile and her eyes twinkle. Is that a good thing or a bad thing? She lifts the top off the box and inside is an envelope. You realize you're holding your breath, but as long as they reveal the contents of that envelope within the next four minutes, you'll be okay. A long, shiny, red fingernail slips under the flap. A piece of card stock with fancy lettering on it is extracted. Monty tells you you've just won $500 per week for the rest of your life.

We're not talking quit-your-drag-of-a-job, life-changing moment here. But just the other day you were saying how much better life would be if you had a few extra bucks to eliminate the fear of the unknown. $500 a week for life is the answer to that prayer.

But it's not over.

Monty is offering another deal. Keep the contents of that box or trade it for what's behind Curtain #1. You feel the rush of adrenaline in your veins. Do you trade the sure thing for the unknown? Do you trade what was good enough just a day ago for the hope of something even better? Do you trade guaranteed stability for the possibility of something previously unimaginable?

You ask me this question 20 years ago and I might have gambled and picked the curtain. Now I'm not so sure. What about you?

Note: If you live in a part of the world where $500/week would mean a huge change in your life (alas, on Long Island, this is not the case), then lower the amount to something that would bring a bit of comfort but not have the sky rockets shooting off before your eyes and then answer the question.

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