---- — When I was a little kid I got to be on TV. I think the show was called Peggy’s Place or maybe Debbie’s World. I was only five, so I can’t be expected to remember everything, but here is what I do remember: my mom and aunt took me, my little sister and my cousin to the taping. We sat in the bleachers with a bunch of other kids, and were promised a “fabulous prize” if we did what we were told.
As I recall, we were supposed to wave at the camera and cheer whenever a new cartoon was introduced. Then they would break away and, while the cartoon was being shown to kids in the “real” world, those of us in Peggy’s World would play games. We were constantly being assured of a “fabulous prize” if we would just hang in there and behave.
We had to stand in line and wait for our turn to look at the camera and say our name and age. My two-year-old sister refused to cooperate, and I continually had to step out of line, grab her by the arm, and drag her back. I remember looking up into the monitor and seeing myself with one foot firmly planted in line, reaching as far as I could, tugging on my sister. I smiled my prettiest smile at the camera while jerking her arm out of socket.
When we got back to our seats, I tried to explain to her that we were going to get a really cool prize if she would just sit still. I sat as though I were strapped to a spinal board, folding my hands into my lap whenever I wasn’t trying to keep her from jumping off the bleachers. I cheered and waved at the camera, I laughed when Peggy told us jokes, and I made sure my long blonde hair was resting smoothly over one shoulder, just like mom had shown me.
Finally, the show was over. We were instructed that when our moms came to get us, they would take us to another room so that we could obtain our long-awaited, much-coveted, overly promised, fabulous prize. I was chomping at the bit by the time my mom and aunt stopped yakking. I jumped up and down, clapping my hands together, and begged, “Please, please, please can we get our prize now?”Mom picked up my little sister and fawned over her, telling her what a great job she had done. Yeah right. Can we please just go get my prize now? My five-year-old nerves were shot. I was two seconds away from a breakdown.
Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, we were there. We walked to a tall counter and my mom picked something up. I held out my little hand and eagerly grasped what was offered. It was at this moment I noticed some kids were crying. Others had looks of disgust on their faces. I eyed my prize suspiciously and asked, “What is this?”Mom replied enthusiastically, “Beef Jerky! If you don’t like it, your dad will eat it.”Of all the things they could have given us — candy bars, lollipops, squirt guns, yo-yos, bubblegum, balloons, McDonald’s gift certificates— some presumably capable adult decided to make a bulk purchase of beef jerky.I was a bit sullen on the drive home, but by the next morning I was back to my normal, happy self. I didn’t hate the world anymore, but I still, to this day, hate jerky. I’d give a chewy, processed, dehydrated side of beef to meet the jerk that chose that “fabulous” prize.
Ginger is an author, speaker and mother of five. Find her on Facebook (Ginger Truitt Author), Twitter (@GingerTruitt), or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.