A favorite American pastime is my dirty little secret.

I’m no stranger to addiction. Over the years I’ve struggled, and overcome, dependence on alcohol, cigarettes, caffeine, even sugar, and more. After all those victories, to my dismay I’ve lately acquired a new addiction, one that feels especially shameful and that I am very reluctant to reveal.

I’m going to talk about it anyway, though, because no one knows better than I that keeping addictions secret feeds them. They thrive in darkness and silence. So here goes. It’s Wheel of Fortune.  My husband Frank and I are addicted to America’s most popular game show. Every night except Sunday finds us in front of the TV at 7:30, watching Wheel while we eat. (We’d be there on Sundays too except that it’s not on.) If I solve a word puzzle, I jump up from the table to run around the living room, fist pumping, screaming out the solution. “We’re calling it a day!” I shout, or “Think outside the box of chocolates!” Or Frank and I will express amazement when a contestant solves a puzzle with a mere three letters showing out of a total of 50. Wheel word-puzzle savants are so exciting!

We don’t answer the phone during the program, and if I call someone back later I lie that I couldn’t pull myself away from Nature or The Civil War or some other thought-provoking, worthwhile program on PBS. Hooked on this game show—me of all people, reader of Pulitzer Prize winning fiction, watcher of Masterpiece Theatre.  But I’m an addict. It’s beyond my control. I can’t stop myself. I managed to overcome alcohol – but when it comes to Wheel of Fortune:  I   _m    p_werl_ss.


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