The Revenge of Monty Hall

Steve Lita American Iron Magazine Editor

Steve Lita, American Iron Magazine Editor

RIDE TO WORK by Steve Lita, Editor

Gears, Speed, Metal, and Oxidation

You can usually tell when I’m writing an Editor’s Column appealing to a segment of readership “of a certain age.” Those columns would probably begin with the words: Back in the day…

I had toyed with the idea of starting this column that way, but then I realized the thing I was going to bring up from “back in the day” still exists today. So, I’m hoping everyone can follow along.

I recently found myself sitting in a local diner with my wife, enjoying a Sunday morning breakfast out when I noticed something on the television set hanging on the wall. There was an episode of the game show Let’s Make A Deal on TV. This surprised me; I didn’t know that show was on the air these days! I remember it from when I was a kid. You know, back in the day. Actually, after doing some research, I was surprised to learn the show was created in 1963 and first aired just a few days after my birthday. So, the premise for the show is, like me, getting on in years.

The game show’s logo on the television looked pretty familiar and true to that of the vintage show. But this new version is actually a “reboot” which got the go-ahead in 2009. The current host is comic/singer/actor Wayne Brady. He’s the sharp-as-a-tack comedian who keeps them rolling in the aisles on the improvisational comedy show Whose Line Is It Anyway? He’s also the main character in a Chappelle’s Show skit lampooning Wayne’s squeaky-clean persona, where he plays a meaner-than-mean smiling gangster.

So, I’m watching the show while waiting for our breakfast to arrive, in slight amazement that the audience and contestants on the show still dress up in those ridiculous costumes. Some of them were just so over-the-top that they raised the question: What won’t people do for money? Of course, dressing up in silly costumes for a chance to participate and guess what’s behind door #1, door #2, or door #3 goes way back to the origins of the show. Except these days, the show seemed a bit more ruthless than it used to be.

For example, one contestant, who was dressed as a leprechaun, was given four clues to help him make a guess as to what was behind the “prize door.” The clues were: Gears, Speed, Metal, and Oxidation. So, as often happens, the viewer (me) was taking guesses and playing along. This one interested me. Those first three clues were completely steering me in the direction of guessing “Motorcycle!” And of course, I’m thinking the game show had a shiny new Sportster sitting back there behind the door. I guessed Sportster because after seeing the quality of some of the earlier prizes, I knew they didn’t have a full dressed bagger back there. I’m not knocking Sportsters, just making an observation about how much that show spends on prizes. (Not much.) However, the last clue threw me off. What would oxidation have to do with motorcycles? Especially my vision of a shiny new bike back there.

It turns out there’s a twist to the contest. Mr. Leprechaun had a choice to forego what was behind the door for a quick $800 cash payout Wayne had offered him. But no. He wasn’t having any part of that! He, too, figured it was a motorcycle, and he wanted the big prize. Besides, if he took the $800, and it did turn out to be a nice new motorcycle, the $800 would have been considered a loser’s consolation prize. Therefore, Mr. Leprechaun firmly stood his ground and boldly announced he wanted what was behind the door. As for me, I couldn’t look beyond the oxidation hint word, and a little voice inside my head was yelling out, “No, don’t do it man! Pass! Pass! Take the 800 bucks!” And quite a few of the audience members were doing the same.

The anticipation grew as the door was drawn back to reveal an old, dilapidated hulk of a motorcycle. You could almost say this was formerly a bike, and something I’d consider to be a weak parts-bike these days, complete with Hollywood-generated smoke dribbling from the exhaust pipe. Actually, I think it was an old Czechoslovakian Jawa, complete with flat tires and rusted metal.

And so, with that, the familiar whomp-whomp descending trombone sound signaling a losing guess was played and the contestant was escorted from the stage. My next thought? I wonder if he got $800 when he went to get rid of his prize.