I recently heard that the once-popular TV show, “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” which stopped airing back in 2012, will be returning with new episodes in 2020.
The show, which aired for nine years, was hosted by carpenter and former model, Ty Pennington, and featured home makeovers and renovations free of charge for families that were undergoing some type of hardship at the time.
Hearing about the impending resurrection of the show made me recall an incident that happened back in 2008. At the time, my husband and I had been in the process of building our dream house. Unfortunately, thanks to a dishonest contractor and a lot of hidden expenses, our dream house quickly turned into a giant nightmare. After a year, we found ourselves with only a half-built house and no money.
One night in late 2008, my cousin, Barb, called me. The tone of her voice immediately told me she was excited about something.
"I know how discouraged you've been about the house you're building," she said, "so I just did something I think might be the answer to all of your problems!"
"The only thing that would solve all of my problems," I muttered, "would be some guy who can finish building the house in less than a month…and for under 100 bucks!"
"Actually, that's kind of what I’m talking about…only better!" Barb said. "If things go as I hope they will, your house can be finished in only one week…and for free!"
She had my full attention.
"You know that TV show, ‘Extreme Makeover?’" she asked. "The one where they build someone a house in only one week, and while they're building it, they send the homeowners away on a nice vacation? Then when the owners come back, their brand new house is revealed?"
"Sure, I watch that show all the time. What about it?"
"Well, I filled out the online application for you and e-mailed it to them! They could be calling you at any minute…even as we speak!"
"How did you fill out all of the information?" I asked. "You don't even know the address of my future house."
"All they wanted was your name, e-mail address and phone number," she said. "Oh, and a photo of you. I didn’t have a recent one, so can you upload one to them as soon as possible?"
"They want a photo of me?” I asked, thinking that was strange. “Wouldn't they rather have a photo of the property or the half-built house, so they’ll know what they have to deal with?"
"No, they only asked for one of you for now. I'll give you the screen name and password I came up with for you so you can get into the website and upload your photo, OK?"
If it meant getting my house finished in only a week, especially free of charge, I was willing to send them anything they wanted, including one of my kidneys.
“So," Barb continued, "the screen name I picked for you is ‘Disaster2008,’ because that's the first thing that came to mind when I thought about all of the stress you’ve been going through with your house."
"That seems appropriate," I said.
"Now go send your photo right away," she said. "I have a really good feeling about this! I think it's going to be your miracle, the answer to your prayers!"
I thanked her, hung up and made a beeline for my computer. I then found the website address she'd given me and typed in the screen name, “Disaster 2008,” and the password. Sure enough, there was my information, and a note saying it already had been submitted to the producers!
As I studied the website more closely, however, I suddenly burst out laughing.
Instead of signing me up for “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” she'd signed me up for just plain “Extreme Makeover,” a TV show where cosmetic surgeons completely reconstructed and transformed people from blah "befores" to gorgeous "afters," using every means imaginable: liposuction, tummy-tucks, facelifts, both dental and breast implants, etc. They also put the participants through an intense exercise and nutritional program with a personal trainer who had all the personality of an army drill-sergeant. In essence, the “lucky” participants spent a few weeks being sliced, stitched and routinely tortured.
I then realized why the show had requested my photo! They wanted to see how much work I needed! I laughed even harder when I thought of the “Disaster 2008” screen name Barb had chosen for me!
I called her back and jokingly said, "Thanks a lot, Barb! You accidentally signed me up for free plastic surgery instead of a free house! And even worse, you called me a disaster!"
At first, she sounded really embarrassed and upset, but then she couldn’t help but crack up laughing. "Well, look on the bright side," she finally said, "if they choose you for the show, you may not get your house built, but you'll look so great, you won't even care!"
Out of curiosity, I later checked out the “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” website to see what that show’s application was like. It was about 20 pages long and wanted to know everything from the name of my first-born child to how much I’d paid in income taxes since Nixon was in office. If I’d decided to fill out that application, the TV show would have known more about me than my own husband did.
I think the tummy-tuck might have been easier.
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