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.