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Vanna-ty Fare

The confessions of a ‘Wheel of Fortune’ fan.

May 12, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 33 • By JOHN SIMON
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Even finer viewing is the pretty hostess, Vanna White, who uncovers the spaces where a letter has been correctly called. She does this with a delightful tap, displaying an allure that has only increased over the years. She wears an undeterrable smile and enviably flattering clothes, usually floor-length dresses. It is also gratifying to observe the losers, especially when BANKRUPT strips them of considerable winnings, including, perhaps, the aforementioned car—run over, as it were, by Fortune’s wheel. At such times we are allowed to expend, according to our natures, either Samaritan compassion or guilty schadenfreude, both equally satisfying in different ways.

For us viewers, there is also the modest pleasure of having guessed the correct solution, perhaps even before the apt contestant. This does not fill our pockets, but it does fill our souls with justified pride for having figured out “Refreshing Coconut Water” (clue: Food and Drink) or “On the Job Training” (clue: Thing) or “An Extraordinary Experience” (clue: Event) or “Stop Texting Me I’m Cramming for Finals” (clue: Phrase) or “Superstition by Stevie Wonder” (clue: Song and Artist) or “Electric Toothbrush” (clue: Around the House). All comfortable, homey things; no Robert Louis Stevenson’s grave here. 

Blurt out “The Latest Technology” (clue: Thing) 10 seconds before the hausfrau with five children or the assistant librarian from the corn belt who studies Chinese on the side, and you bask in the warmth of the halo around your prescient head.

And at the end of the program, you get to see, as they rush up to the stage to embrace the winner, the beautiful wife or the handsome husband or the beaming kinfolk or the best friend—whoever the invited rooters might be. And whatever pleasantries Sajak exchanges with them—not to mention the cute concluding duologue between Pat and Vanna, bristling with highly paid bonhomie—all this, dear home audience, you’re invited to wallow in, looking forward to tomorrow’s show—except, alas, on weekends.

John Simon is an author and critic in New York. 

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