America, let’s make a deal

By Stephen Harris - For The Tribune

Spanish reenactors greet Indians for the first time during Morganton festival.

Stephen Harris Back In The Hometown

I walked in and caught her. The sight shocked, disappointed and distressed me.

I caught her watching one of those weekday TV game shows. I remembered the show from when I was as a kid. I watched such shows during two wonderful, leisurely, carefree years leading up to my start of school here in the hometown.

And that show’s still on? I thought. It’s the show with the curtains and the boxes and the prizes that make contestants in Halloween getups jump up and down and scream for the benefit of the TV cameras.

In an era before smartphones or even home computers, daytime TV game shows ate up some of my preschool time. They gave my mother a break from me so she could attend to the house, and those shows put some color in my days, though the broadcasts were only in black and white.

After the early-hours kids’ TV shows, I hung around for the game shows during which adults acted like kids. That kind of thing is fascinating to a kid.

“Why are you watching that?” I asked her in disgust. “I like it,” came the reply. Even after 24 years together, I’m still learning new things.

I took a break and watched a few minutes of the Deal TV show and its carnival, its commercialism, its greed and its silliness. How banal.

And yet how nostalgic. How familiar, comfortable and unremarkable.

And how I began longing for just such things.

There’s been too much drama lately. Too much bad politics and bad news and bad blood and real bloodshed.

I say that’s why America stopped and took a break — twice — as we turned our thoughts to two riveting events.

America washed all of the bad news out of its collective ears and savored, first, the August eclipse.

The country took its eyes off of the moment and turned them to the sky (or the TV). As communal a moment as any that we’ve had since 9/11, we got outdoors and put on Cracker Jack glasses and witnessed a wonder of nature with a coast-to-coast, collective gasp.

For those one or two minutes of eclipse totality, America stood awestruck and light-hearted. For one glorious moment we were united, one people, from all backgrounds and experiences, sharing an experience greater than ourselves.

Then shortly after came Texas and Florida and Puerto Rico, and as terrible as were those natural tragedies, the stories particularly in Texas of ordinary people, not professionals, helping people during the flood reminded America that good still abounds here, and we can be still what we once thought we were.

Rescuing. Sheltering. Giving. Caring. Loving. You could almost see in the TV news people, commentators and pundits a relief that, at least for a day or two, they could forego all of the garbage and report on our better natures. You could almost see the TV folks thinking that this is what we’d rather be doing.

Two contestants on the Deal show said they were old friends from high school. One won a trip to an island resort. Show host Wayne Brady tried to get the other friend to take some cash and give up the mystery prize behind the little curtain.

But the hopping, arm-waving friend just wouldn’t do it. Yep. She got zonked (got a gag prize).

The first friend immediately turned and invited her friend the zonkee on her island trip.

A tired, cynical America could get used to this.


Monty Hall Coincidentally, the icon of Let’s Make A Deal, Monty Hall, the host I remember from childhood and co-creator of the TV show, died Sept. 30 at the age of 96. Hall presided over 4,500 shows over two decades. RIP.

Stephen Harris returned home to live in State Road.

Spanish reenactors greet Indians for the first time during Morganton festival. reenactors greet Indians for the first time during Morganton festival.

Stephen Harris Back In The Hometown Harris Back In The Hometown

By Stephen Harris

For The Tribune

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