Weekend humor from Celia Rivenbark: Vanna White should be the one to reinvent the “wheel”

July 22, 2023 6:00 am
a hand pointing a TV remote at a screen

The author is looking forward with mixed emotions to a new reality TV show. Photo: Getty Images

While I’ve got nothing against Ryan Seacrest—he seems like an amiable sort—it’s sadly unsurprising he got the job of hosting “Wheel of Fortune” over the woman with FORTY-ONE years’ experience.

Vanna. Girl. If I were you, I’d be sure to flip those letters into a stream of profanities directed at the higher-ups before marching my sequined self right off the set. Thank you for your service.

On the downside, such an uncharacteristic hissy fit would be unsettling to contestant Millie M., an aspiring pickleball player from Akron, Ohio, who has “the best husband in the world, three adorable kids—Connor, Constance, and Conrad—and an elderly dachshund named Dolly.

It’s possible you missed this development because you were distracted by Truly Important News breaking at the same exact time so let me explain. While you were pondering the stupefyingly regressive decisions made by the Supreme Court—regarding student loans, anti-gay website creators and Affirmative Action– it’s possible you missed the not-that-important but gnawingly irritating news: Vanna White won’t get the job even though, with decades of experience and fan support, she’d seem the obvious choice. She’s currently “negotiating” a new contract and I hope it goes very, very well for her.

You might wonder why I care so much. Coupla reasons. First, Vanna is a homegirl, raised a mere hour from where I write this using as many vowels and consonants as I can to say “No! This is a grave injustice!” Vanna is a warrior, suiting up every day in those tight, itchy gowns—and crushing it—while I, at the exact same age can barely make it out of my “I’ll Start Working When My Coffee Does” sleep shirt by noon. OK. 2 p.m.

Pretty sure I couldn’t smile sweetly and frown sympathetically when some idiot surveyed a board that read “ALL IN THE AMILY” and said confidently, “Pat, I would like a W please.”

OK, that never happened but it could have. What DID happen, thanks YouTube, were such classics as “Dangling on Air Jordans” (nope, that would be “dancing”); “Magic Jand” (hmmmm, “Wand” works better here but maybe that’s wust me); “and my personal favorite “Wheel” flub: “I Have the Wine by Johnny Cash.” Sooooo close. There have been tons of missteps, mistakes, and downright hilarious bad guesses (“This Band Was Made for You and Me” still makes me howl as Woody Guthrie spins in his grave).

It was Vanna, not Pat, who would look appropriately sorrowful when a contestant left only with parting gifts. I’m picturing the sad sack flanked by a mythical but entirely plausible Bev from Grand Rapids, Michigan, who “loves my cockatiel and my swim spa and not necessarily in that order Pat!” winning $15,000 and Belvin from Lower Catgut, Arkansas, who “loves taking my gun into Hardee’s because I can” with $25,500.

Ryan Seacrest should do the right thing and switch roles. He can turn the letters while Vanna strolls over and chats up the contestants. The increasingly salty Sajak isn’t exiting a minute too soon if you ask me. Lately, he’s become a bit more “Get off my lawn” crabby with contestants, telling one who talked over a Dick’s Sporting Goods plug: “Never interrupt me or a plug!” Which makes him sound like sort of a Dick’s Sporting Goods, if you ask me.

Plus, Sajak has had to apologize for an outburst in which he said he’d had it with “ungrateful players.” 

I get it. I’ve “worked” at the same job for four decades. I used to be nice! 

You know who’s still nice after all these years? Vanna White. “Variety” confirms she’s “in negotiations” to stay on the show in her letter-turning position. But I will always wonder what might have been. Where’s a “magic jand” when you need one?

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