Each year end, as I approach my Boxing Day birthday, I’m reminded of all the wonderful things I’ve experienced throughout the year and my life as a whole. For instance, this year I’ll be thinking about my 2 months back home in Australia traveling to all the towns and outback outposts I had only dreamed about as a kid – Alice Springs, Darwin and Broome. Now I can add the town of Winton in Queensland as my new favourite spot in Australia.
Much like a Facebook memory popping up each morning, today I suddenly remembered an encounter on the Toronto subway back in the 90s that put a smile on my face and made me feel like a big time celebrity. Back in the mid-80s, there was a popular yet silly game show called “Jackpot” where multiple players attempted to solve riddles and win cash. I was asked to be on the show along with other interesting people from all walks of life. At the start of each show – we taped an entire week’s worth of shows in one day – one of the contestants would jump up out of his/her seat and yell “Jackpot”. We were each told to bring 5 different tops to wear, changing prior to each episode taping so it looked like 5 different days. Apparently only one contestant did that – me.
The director instructed the cameramen to focus on me as I would be the only person jumping up and yelling Jackpot; I wore a variety of sweaters, each fitting my then-curvy bod perfectly. Imagine Suzanne Summers as Chrissy from Three’s Company jumping up and jiggling – that was me! Back in the 80s, there were no concerns about young women being exploited for their looks or physical attributes and, of course, we all bought into it anyway. I ended up winning a little less than a thousand dollars on the show, which was a lot back then; I could go buy a whole bunch of new sweaters for that amount…LOL
Skip ahead to the late 90s and I was riding on the Bloor-Danforth line of Toronto’s subway system one day. I noticed a young man staring at me – I ignored him and dropped my eyes so as not to make eye-contact with him. He moved towards me…oh dear, I hope he’s not some sort of masher or perv. He got up close then said “you’re the Jackpot girl, aren’t you?” What? “Sorry, I don’t mean to be rude but you ARE the Jackpot girl…from the tv show, right?” I felt slightly embarrassed and not sure what he wanted…an autograph or maybe he wants me to jump up and down and yell Jackpot for him. “Yeeeees” I answered cautiously. “Did you know that Jackpot is very popular on Canadian Forces tv? My brother is stationed in Germany and he told me how all the guys replay the Canadian TV shows over and over again as it reminds them of home. They loved it when you jumped up and down…” I think he suddenly realized what he said and stopped, looking rather sheepishly at me and blushing bright crimson. “Oh how wonderful,” I replied, not wanting to hurt his feelings or draw attention to the obvious sexual implications – he must have been all of 20 or 21. “ummm…my brother sent us photos of his buddies all watching the tv and you’re on the screen doing your jump up….” I nodded and smiled. Then he said something I will never forget: “You’re big in Baden-Baden!”
So now, whenever I’m feeling down or lacking respect from others, I remember that encounter – no matter how small and insignificant I may feel here in Toronto, I know I’m a big star in Baden-Baden…and just maybe I’m still jumping up and down for a new generation of military folks in reruns on Forces TV?
MERRY CHRISTMAS to all our military men and women serving overseas – wish I had a video of the show but consider yourselves being Jackpot’d.
Not my episodes but this will give you an idea of how cheesy it was!