“This is a story about Monty Hall, the velvet-voiced, handsome host of Let’s Make a Deal. He passed away recently and it broke my heart because Monty Hall and I had a history.
I was a little depressed after I had my first baby and longing to get back to ‘the real world’ when I saw an ad: be a contestant on Let’s Make a Deal. Contestants were supposed to dress up as something funny but there was nothing funny about a postpartum mommy body so I went for the sympathy angle. I cut up a crib mobile made of fabric hearts, sewed the hearts onto a white hat and made a sign that said: HAVE A HEART, LET’S MAKE A DEAL. The neighbor watched the baby and I drove to Hollywood where two hundred people were lined up against a chain-linked fence outside the studio. They were dressed like alligators, killer clowns and French maids. I joined the fray just as a young producer trolled the line, pointing at people.
“You. You. You. That’s it for today. Come back another time.”
OMG! He didn’t pick me. There I was literally wearing my heart – okay, not on my sleeve – but all over me. I threw myself at him. I grabbed his sleeve. I begged.
“I NEEEEDDDDDD TO GET IN THAT STUDIO! I JUST HAD A BABY.”
He let me in.
Once inside, the producers advised us to make eye contact with Monty Hall. Check. No matter where he went my eyes bored into him. He itched, he freaked, he couldn’t figure out where the laser points of focus were coming from and he kept looking for the source. Then he saw me the crazy, desperate lady in the white hat with dancing hearts on it. I think he chose me just to make me stop glaring at him. I got all the way to the big deal and lost, but that was fine. My consolation prize was a two-week trip to the Bahamas and a thousand dollars. I went home happy. Monty Hall probably went home and had nightmares for weeks.
Fast-forward 32 years. Monty Hall is sitting behind my family and me in the theater. He is a little stooped, silver-haired, but still handsome. When my family goes to stretch their legs, I introduce myself and tell him the story that has become a legend in our family. He is gracious. He chats with me until the house lights dim. Before we take our seats, he asks:
“How old is the baby now?” As if on cue, my thirty-two-year-old son walked down the aisle. They shook hands. The house lights went down. We all watched the end of the play. I gave my son’s hand a squeeze. Life was good.
As if on cue, my thirty-year-old son walks down the aisle. They shake hands. The house lights go down. We watch the end of the play. I give my son’s hand a squeeze. Monty Hall walks out of the theater ahead of us and I never see him again.
The moral of the story is this: choose a door, any door but choose. What is behind that door will be exciting or surprising, charming or even challenging, but you will be better for turning the knob.
Monty Hall was behind two of my life’s doors. He made me feel lucky once and honored the second time. TY Monte Hall. I know that the door that opened for you not so long ago will be the biggest deal of all and you deserve that heavenly prize.
P.S. That is not me in the picture.
My daughters and I love words. When one of us comes across an unusual word we share it with the others, often taking the time to look up the meaning in the dictionary. A friend and fellow author on Facebook, Brandilyn Collins, always posts a word of the day, many of them ones weâ€™ve never heard before. My girlâ€™s favorite so far is â€œtenebrific.â€ The meaning is gloomy or dark, which describes one of their â€œemoâ€ friends at college. We always have a lot of fun rolling new words around on our tongue and trying to think how they would be used in a sentence.
In our quest to look up words, we discovered that some commonly used words have changed drastically over the years. For instance, when we use the word â€œniceâ€ to describe someone, we have visions of a person who treats us with kindness. Perhaps we use â€œniceâ€ to tell a friend about a dress or pair of shoes we found at a store and would like to purchase. Those definitions are listed in the dictionary, but they are not the first or even second definition. Instead, â€œniceâ€ as we know it today is listed as number six in my Websterâ€™s College Dictionary.
We found that the original meaning of â€œniceâ€ came from words that meant strange, lazy, stupid, or foolish. The first definition for â€œniceâ€ is difficult to please. In the Merriam-Webster online dictionary, the first definition is obsolete, but means â€œwanton or coy.â€ Nice can also mean â€œpicky, or difficult to please.â€ This puts a whole new slant on referring to a person as â€œnice.â€
As writers words are our business. I love to use less common words throughout my writing. I donâ€™t mind if a reader has to grasp the meaning from the context, or even take the time to look it up in the dictionary. Often, I will stop in the middle of a book to look up a word, and that never takes away from my pleasure in the story. In fact, it often increases my interest in that authorâ€™s work.
How about you? Have you come across words that you enjoy, but which arenâ€™t commonly used? Care to share those with us? Iâ€™d love to see what words you might share with your family.
Sweat beaded on my brow as I lifted a hand to test the flow from the air duct. No question. Our evaporative cooler was on the fritz. Not only that, but my husband, who usually did all the upkeep, had been working long hours and wouldnâ€™t be home until after dark. That meant I would have to try to the repairs. I could see disaster looming.
I called my husband with the wild hope that my sorry story would bring out compassion in his superiors and he would be allowed to come home early. That didnâ€™t happen. Instead, my sweet man told me exactly what to do. I hung up the phone, knowing we were in big trouble.
After a trip to the hardware store, I fumbled around for the necessary tools and got to work, determined to get the temporary fix in place without tragedy. Everything went more or less fine until it came to climbing the ladder to the roofâ€¦in the almost one hundred degree heatâ€¦with my fear of heights. After a quick pep talk to self I went up, only to discover that gloves were essential. Why didnâ€™t I know that?
Despite several false starts, numerous trips up and down the ladder on shaky legs, and leaks that had to be fixed, I did manage to get the temporary fix in place. The cool air blowing on my heated face was all the thanks I needed. My appreciation for my husband, who does these jobs without whining, blossomed.
I learned a lesson from this that I thought applied in many areas, but especially in my writing. Had I tried to muddle through on my own that cooler would never have been repaired. We would have been sweltering for days without my husbandâ€™s knowledgeable input. The same goes with writing. I have to be ready to listen to experts in many areas and willing to apply their advice, even when itâ€™s hard to do. Editors and other writerâ€™s have many suggestions that are gleaned from years of experience and will benefit me if I listen.
Although I prefer to stay within my comfort zone and not climb a ladder to the roof, I can get a different perspective if Iâ€™m willing to stretch. Up on that roof, the view stretched out a long ways while my usual vista in the house is very limited. I also learned appreciation for something someone else does. As writerâ€™s we must be ready to get out of our comfort zone in order to add depth and reality to our writing.
So, I challenge you to step out the next time you have the opportunity and try something newâ€”even if the scent of disaster is in the air. You never know what treasures youâ€™ll glean for your writing from that breath of cool air.
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