When I was a kid, my mother would drag me to the local TV stations in Washington, DC, hoping that one of us would be selected as a contestant on one of their many game shows, and “win fabulous prizes.” My mother was, in fact, selected many times, which meant the bus ride back home involved lugging what were then considered prizes, things like a 12-pack of Wheaties, a 3-gallon jug of pancake syrup, or an even larger bottle of women’s cologne that, if dropped, could create a scented cloud large enough to scent every man, woman, child, and stray animal in a 10-mile radius.
I was selected just once, for a show called, “When I Grow Up,” a show where kids would try to fool a panel of local celebrities, much along the lines of the famous, nationally televised show “What’s My Line?”
I was ten years old and didn’t have a clue what I wanted to be when I grew up. At that age, my head was spinning with possibilities, from jet pilot, to actor, to cowboy, to writer, to mad scientist, so I couldn’t just choose one of those. Instead, I tried to figure out what occupation would fool the panel, and what I came up with was “T-man,” for “Treasury Man.” I thought if they got close, they’d go for something like “G-man,” and I was right.
The producer of the show must have thought so, too, because when the emcee told me I had won, a curtain opened on the set and out marched Ivy Baker Priest, the then Treasurer of the United States, with a special certificate appointing me a “Junior T-Man.” My thought at the time was, “Jeez, is that it?”
Fortunately, there was more: a 10-pound Hershey Bar, a harmonica, and a cap gun, complete with imitation leather holster. Needless to say, the harmonica was clogged with chocolate before we made it back home.
I never did become a T-man. In fact, even now, so many years and so many jobs later, my mind still spins with myriad possibilities. Jet pilot has lost its luster, as have actor and cowboy. But mad scientist is still right up there. And as far as my “day job” goes, sometimes I think I’m still trying to fool the panel.
Grow up? No thanks.