Queen for a Day

December 20, 2010

Queen for a Day

Queen for a Day

Greetings, fellow trudgers on “the road of Happy Destiny”…

Are you old enough to remember the TV show “Queen for a Day?” It’s my front-runner for “sickest game show of all time.”

On air in the 50’s and 60’s, it was hosted by one-time carnival barker Jack Bailey. The female-only contestants took turns telling the live audience their life story. Typically, each tale was one of unspeakable woe, complete with paralyzed children, finacial crises, dead spouses, health disasters and impending doom in general.

Afterward, Bailey would hold his hand over each woman’s head and ask the audience to clap for the one who had the most moving, wretched account of misery and tragedy. The “Clap-Meter” would register who got the loudest applause and that woman would be crowned “Queen for a Day.” The Queen would then be crowned, wrapped in fur and seated on a throne by scantily-clad models. Prizes included wheelchairs, appliances, hospital beds, and hundreds of other sponsored products.

And no, I am not making this up.

I LOVED Queen for a Day.* I still play it! I might take turns with a friend, competing over how many awful things have happened to us so far that day. If I hear a stranger complain in a store, I might see it as an obvious invitation to top it with worse grievances. When some well-intentioned poor soul asks “How are you?” I might forget that in most cases, it’s a rhetorical question. I’ll grab the opportunity to spin out my “Injustices of the Week” candidates.

And so on. No cash or prizes, really, other than a look on the other person’s face that says “Wow — it must suck to be you.” Yay — I win! That, and the feelings of justification over the mountains of resentments or self-pity I’ve accrued.

It’s a hell of a way to live, folks.

So, I’m boycotting today’s episode of Queen for a Day. I’m skipping over sharing Prayers of Pity, practicing Sympathy-Sucking 101, or writing the screenplay to The Never-Ending Bummer.

Instead, I’m going to do what has been suggested to me by people who appear to be far happier than I am: I’m focusing on Acceptance (of what is), Gratitude (for what I have), and Humility — (sadly, AGH is not a great acronym) which I currently define as “doing the next right thing, with grace.” If I run into you, I’ll let you know how the day is going.

Happy trails!

* PS  According to Wikipedia, as was customary practice for networks of the time, the films for the series Queen for a Day were destroyed. Only eight episodes are known to have survived, including one special segment (guest-hosted by the actor Adolph Menjou) which allowed a “King for a Day” to finally get in his fair share of kvetching.

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