I watched the TV show American’s Funniest Home Videos (AFHV for short) on Sunday night, and found myself thinking, “Has it really been nearly 30 years since this show first debuted?”
As the old saying goes, time sure does fly.
I hate to say it, but one of the reasons why I still watch the show is because twice I have filled out consent forms for my video to appear on it...and I’m still waiting for at least one of them to air. I have the feeling, however, that after I’m long dead and buried, the show still will be airing weekly and with my luck, that’s when they’ll finally decide to run one of my videos.
Speaking of those videos, I was totally unaware both times that my husband was taping me. In fact, the first time, he secretly taped me and actually sent the tape to the show without even informing me about it first. He was forced to confess, however, when he received consent forms from the show and discovered I had to sign them or the video couldn’t air.
That particular video featured me cheating on my diet. Back then, VCRs were popular, and we had two of them – one in the living room and one in the bedroom. The bedroom’s machine had a drawer-like compartment in the top of it that held a videotape and would pop up when the eject button was pressed.
I soon discovered that the drawer was the perfect size to hold Hershey bars, which were thin and flat. So I hid some in there and then, with just a push of the eject button, up would pop my secret stash.
My husband soon became suspicious when I, eating my dietetic meal of healthful salads and broiled chicken, began to disappear down to the bedroom every night immediately after dinner – something I’d never done before vowing to diet and shed some pounds. So he hid his video camera in the closet near the bed, left the closet door open just a crack and filmed me in the bedroom.
When he saw the results – me stuffing my face with chocolate bars that I’d popped up out of the VCR – he was certain he’d hit pay dirt, and immediately sent the tape off to the show.
I was upset when I first saw the tape (only after he received the consent forms from the show), but the thought of winning $10,000, which was a small fortune back then, made me forgive him for not allowing me to comb my hair, change into something nicer than my holey old sweats, or to look less like a Hoover vacuum-cleaner inhaling chocolate bars, before he'd taped the video.
Our initial excitement, however, and our plans for spending our future winnings began to fade as each month passed with no sign of the video airing on the show.
Not one to be discouraged, my husband decided to tape me again – as part of the show’s “assignment America” segment, which asked for videos of practical jokes being played on people. Unfortunately, I once again was completely clueless as he devised his devious plot to prank me.
It all began when he woke me one Saturday morning and told me there was the most beautiful cardinal he had ever seen, perched right on my bird feeder in the yard. Normally he wouldn’t DARE wake me on a Saturday morning, but he knew how badly I wanted to see a cardinal, so he decided to risk having a pillow flung at him.
When I rushed to the kitchen window, however, I saw nothing, not even the usually present squirrels, at the feeder.
“The cardinal’s gone!” I whined. “Why didn’t you wake me up sooner?”
My husband walked over to me and looked out the window. “It’s way up there in the big pine tree!” he said, pointing. “See it?”
I squinted at the pine tree. “I don’t see anything!”
From seemingly out of nowhere, a pair of binoculars suddenly appeared in my husband’s hand. “Use these,” he said. “You’ll be able to get a real close-up look at the bird and its beautiful red feathers.”
I stood at the window and futilely tried to focus the binoculars. When I finally did, I scanned the pine tree, the oak tree, the maple tree, and even the neighbor’s flag pole. Nothing. No cardinal.
“Turn the knobs on the binoculars,” my husband said. “You’re not focusing right. That’s why you can’t see anything.”
I twisted and turned every knob on the binoculars, but still there was no sign of any cardinal. Muttering, I plunked down the binoculars on the counter and turned to frown at my husband. To my bewilderment, he was standing there holding a video camera.
“What are you doing?” I asked.
“Taping you,” he answered matter-of-factly, then started to chuckle. It was an evil, sinister chuckle.
“What’s so funny?” I nearly was afraid to ask. I looked down at myself to make sure nothing was torn, exposed, or unbuttoned.
He laughed even harder, still filming. When he finally was able to catch his breath, he blurted out, “I smeared some black shoe polish on the binoculars! You should see your eyes! You look like a raccoon!”
I honestly thought he’d gone off the deep end. I rushed into the bathroom to glance at myself in the mirror. Sure enough, I had two ugly black circles around my eyes. And the shoe polish he’d used must have been mixed with epoxy. I nearly had to scrub my skin with sandpaper to get the stuff off.
“Why on earth would you do something like that?” I asked him as I smeared moisturizing cream around my eyes.
“So I can meet Daisy Fuentes,” he said.
“Daisy Fuentes?” I repeated. “That sexy model who now hosts America’s
Funniest Home Videos?”
He nodded. “Yep! I’m sending this tape to the show! They asked for tapes of practical jokes, and this one of you is going to win!”
I stopped to glare at him. “You’d make your wife look like a fool on national TV just so you can meet Daisy Fuentes?”
“You’re forgetting we also could win $10,000,” he said. “Doesn’t that make you feel better?”
It did. But considering that the previous tape never had aired, I wasn’t delusional enough to believe this current masterpiece of his ever would make it onto the show, either. In fact, I was beginning to suspect the consent forms were just part of the network’s ploy to keep all of its tape-submitters faithfully watching the next 1,000 episodes of AFHV.
Sure enough, we once again received a letter of congratulations from America’s Funniest Home Videos, along with release forms to sign. The letter said, “The producers have decided that your video is a ‘keeper.’”
As I signed the forms, I had to chuckle at the part that said, “I swear that nothing on this video tape was staged.” How many people, I wondered, had perjured themselves signing that part? I can’t count the number of times the TV show had shown videos of some guy painting his house, when suddenly he fell off the ladder and spilled paint all over himself. Why would anyone be standing around wasting good film taping something as boring as a guy painting a house unless that person knew in advance the guy was going to do something dumb? It had to be staged.
Anyway, I sent back the neatly signed forms, even though I knew they probably would amount to nothing more than a waste of ink and a postage stamp. My husband, however, optimist that he was, immediately started dieting, exercising and trying out new brands of men’s cologne, just so he could impress Daisy Fuentes when he met her.
Unfortunately, just a year later, Daisy was off the show and was replaced by Tom Bergeron. Suddenly my husband wasn’t quite as enthusiastic about winning.
He didn't have to concern himself. That was over 20 years ago...and I’m still waiting to see either one of our videos appear on the air.
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