Beam Me Up, Vicki

Neil Shurley
Oct 25, 2018 · 3 min read

How I won “Win, Lose or Draw” but still managed to be a loser

A few years ago, a post by Rob Bricken about the Top 20 Nerd Commandments unleashed a painful memory from the depths of my brain.

Specifically, it was this commandment that caused the flashback:

5) All nerds must be able to sketch, from memory, the basic outlines of the Millennium Falcon, USS Enterprise (NCC-1701), and the TARDIS.

Yes, I drew the TARDIS as my big project for a High School art class. And as retroactively embarrassing as that may be (or maybe it’s cool now?), it’s nothing on the big one: my spectacular nerd failure on NATIONAL TV.

I’d always wanted to be on a game show (or maybe even be a game show host, an occupation that seems to have evaporated). I auditioned for Jeopardy and of the 100 or so wannabes who took the preliminary test at the same time I did, exactly four passed and moved on to the next round. I was not one of those four.

Next, I auditioned for Password Plus. While sitting in the waiting room, I saw a woman who looked vaguely familiar sitting nearby. I smiled at her. She frowned at me. I remembered that she was the woman I’d once taken on a disastrous blind date. Curiously, the date occurred in Texas and this was California but how we ended up in the same room at the same time will forever remain a mystery because she refused to even look at me before I ended up failing the audition.

Then I auditioned for Win, Lose or Draw. I am not an artist by any stretch of the imagination, but I made it through the screening and became an official contestant.

Midway through the game, it was my turn to draw and I was shown my phrase: Beam Me Up, Scotty. As a lifelong Star Trek nerd, it felt like some kind of strange providence. But in my nerdliness, I could not figure out how to parse up the phrase into chunks that the “celebrities” could then guess. So I started drawing what I thought was a passable Enterprise, hoping the celebrities would get the Trek reference and start throwing out catch phrases.

It did not happen.

Vicki Lawrence, the host, complimented my drawing afterwards, but it didn’t help. My celebrities were Peter Marshall, original host of Hollywood Squares, and Marc Summers of Nickelodeon game show Double Dare. He told me when I sat down on the couch that he had never seen even a single episode of Star Trek.

Sigh.

In the end, though, I did win the game. Woo hoo! I went home with $2,100.

Favorite memory of that game: Our female celebrities were two women from soap operas, neither of whom I’d heard of before. I still can’t remember the name of one of them. The other was Jackie Zeman who friends later told me they recognized. At one point, while the women’s team was taking a turn, we sat on the couch watching. Peter Marshall nudged me and pointed at Jackie, who was leaning forward displaying her cleavage. Peter Marshall smiled and winked at me.

Last memory: While I was being introduced, Vicki asked if there was anyone out there I wanted to say “Hi” to. I couldn’t think of anyone right off hand, so I said something like “How about that blonde in the front row,” indicating a very attractive young woman sitting in the audience. Well, for the remainder of the game, whenever my team was up, viewers were graced with cutaway shots to that blonde in the front row. When the episode was over, I stood around chatting with Vicki while Marc Summers did what I should have done, what, in my infinite stupidity, I didn’t even think to do — he made a beeline to that blonde in the front row and started chatting her up.

And I’m embarrassed about the Enterprise?

Sigh.

Neil Shurley

Written by

Writer. Actor. Musician. Nerd. Thinks too much about Star Trek, Doctor Who, ukuleles, coffee, and donuts. Not necessarily in that order. neilshurley.com

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