Starstruck

Written by Michael Pallaris

‘In which Melbourne Pub would I find the Gershwin Room?’ the game show host, Pete Lazer, asks.

It’s two–all on The Great Weekend’s game show, Cabin Pressure, which is filmed at the top of the Melbourne Star. It’s neck and neck. I’ve never been this nervous.

‘Is it A, Transport?’ Lazer continues. ‘B, The Terminus? Or C, The Espy?’

My hands are frozen. My opponent, Gordon, buzzes. 

‘Gordo?’ Lazer exclaims. 

‘Would that be The Espy?’ Gordo says.

‘It would be The Espy!’ Lazer reveals. ‘Congratulations!’

I grimace, feeling the pressure. I’m 2–3 down – match point. 

‘What an episode of Cabin Pressure!’ Lazer announces. ‘We have one question to go! Mike, you need to get this right to stay in it.’

No kidding. 

‘Gordo, you get this right, you win!’ Lazer continues. ‘Here we go!’

Fortunately, Lazer’s comment reminds me of why I entered this contest in the first place. I’m here to win, and I’m going to make a comeback!

 ‘The rectangle shape formed by some Melbourne CBD streets is known as the Hoddle what?’ Lazer asks. ‘Is it A, Crate? B, Grid? Or C, Ghetto?’

Despite my confusion, I press the buzzer almost immediately. 

‘Mike?’ Lazer says, much to my relief. 

‘Uh, Grid?’ I say, hoping my answer is correct and that I’m still in this contest!

‘Grid’s correct!’ Lazer shouts. ‘Well done!’

I subtly pump my fists. The score is now tied at three all; I know I can win this. 

‘Unbelievably, we have a tie! Let’s go to our bonus, tie-breaking question!’ Lazer announces.

Wow! I had watched the previous episodes of Cabin Pressure in order to prepare for my television debut and the games had never been this close before.

‘This is unbelievable!’ Lazer reiterates. ‘Get it right, you win. Get it wrong, you lose – and we laugh at you!’

Despite my nerves, I laugh along with Gordo. 

‘Melbourne is famous for its spring racing,’ Lazer begins. ‘What is the order of the four main race days of the Melbourne Cup Carnival?’

Damn. If only Dad were here! He’d know the answer for sure. I wonder if I could ask Pete Lazer: ‘Phone-A-Friend’ like the contestants do in Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?

‘Is it A, Cup Day, Derby Day, Stakes Day, Oaks Day?’ Lazer continues. ‘B, Oaks Day, Stakes Day, Cup Day, Derby Day? Or C, Derby Day, Cup Day, Oaks Day, Stakes Day?’

I buzz as quickly as I can. I don’t know the answer, but I need to at least have a punt! Unfortunately, Gordo beats me to the punch with his lightning fast reflexes.  

‘Gordo?’ Lazer exclaims. 

‘Would that be B?’ Gordo replies, hesitantly.

‘It … would not be B!’ Lazer reveals. 

I sigh, relieved that I still have a shot to win from here.

‘Mike!’ Lazer pauses for suspense. ‘Press the buzzer! Give us the answer to win Cabin Pressure!’

Okay, Michael. If in doubt, the answer’s C. 

‘C?’ I almost whisper. 

‘C … IS CORRECT!’ Lazer exclaims. ‘Well done, Mike! You have won Cabin Pressure!’

I grin and bang my fists on the table in delight. I can’t believe that I’ve won 4–3 after trailing all day, and got up in the last stride after a tense finish!

‘What an episode!’ Lazer continues. ‘Unfortunately, you go away empty-handed, but hopefully you’ve enjoyed yourself, Gordo.’

‘Ah, I did!’ Gordo says graciously, and in that moment, I admire him for being humble in defeat. Kudos to him for his sportsmanship.

                                                                                  *

In what feels like a lifetime later, we shoot the final part of the game show. Ironically, I’m still nervous, even though I won. I suddenly become conscious of my appearance. The realisation hits me: I’m going to be on TV.

‘Congratulations, Mike!’ Lazer says, and he seems genuinely happy for me.

‘Thanks mate!’ I reply, shaking his hand. 

‘You now have to spin the Cabin Pressure wheel and win some fantastic prizes!’ Lazer continues, ‘Thanks to our friends from The District Docklands!’

I look at the wheel, hoping that I can win the grand prize. 

‘But this—this is the one that you want, the big star!’ Lazer exclaims, pointing at the golden emblem at the top of the game show wheel, as if he is reading my thoughts. ‘If you get it on the golden star you will win a prize valued over $8000!’

Come on, Mike, we’ve come all this way—we might as well go big or go home!

‘And it’s all thanks to our very good friends at Quest NewQuay Docklands, The District Docklands, Melbourne Star, Urban Alley Brewery, and Hoyts Docklands,’ Lazer continues. ‘I want you to give the Cabin Pressure wheel the biggest spin you could ever do!’ he adds with enthusiasm.

In that moment, there’s nothing that I want more than that golden prize! So I spin as hard as I can. 

‘He’s gone the two-handed approach!’ Lazer commentates as I laugh nervously. ‘That’s the first time that’s ever happened.’ 

Here’s hoping it works.

I wait for the wheel to stop spinning.

It seems to take forever.

Then finally, it begins to slow down.

It’s close.

It’s nearly there.

It stops.

And.

I.

Just.

Fall.

Short.

Damn it!

‘It’s not going to be the major star, but it is Cabin 17!’ Lazer says grinning. ‘Congratulations, Mike! You’ve won a ‘Yoga in the Sky’ experience. You can meditate in peace above the world with a unique spin on traditional yoga! Stretch, unwind and relax with Melbourne Star’s Yoga in the Sky experience for up to four guests, valued at $400!’ 

I smile. This prize sounds pretty cool after all.

‘Have you ever done yoga before?’ Lazer asks.

‘Never, mate,’ I stammer. At least not properly anyway.

‘Well, not only are you going to do it for the first time ever, but it will also be right here on the Melbourne Star!’ Lazer reveals. ‘Congratulations!’

‘Thanks!’ I exclaim, feeling giddy. 

‘You too can win some great prizes with Cabin Pressure,’ Lazer says, addressing the audience. ‘Come down and see us at The District Docklands!’

Reference:

The Great Weekend 2019, television program, 7two, Melbourne, 15 September. 


Michael Pallaris is an author and editor who can be found at his local tennis club when he’s not writing. He has recently completed his Bachelor of Arts (Honours) at Deakin University. Michael especially enjoys creating sports poetry, which is why he wrote a thesis revolving around it.


Michael’s work has appeared in the Skeptic, Tension and Forward editions of WORDLY Magazine.

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