Earth Needed Kelly: Why One Wheel of Fortune Contestant Deserved an “A”

There are times when the world needs to be wiped of the muck and the murk, the shit and the storm, swept clean of the rotten banana peels of political opinions—that are soooo damn slippery—and worrisome grief that causes murmurs around the water cooler and valet parking areas to the likes of “Oh fuck, what now?” Yes, as Cousin Eddie would say, there are times when the shitter, proverbial and/or Ferguson, is obviously full.


With that, there are times when the simple dreamer needs reassurance too. And times when the insurance salesman needs a dream. There are times when you have to simply explain to the vegan that they’re in a BBQ restaurant…with the same effort required to convince carnivores that tofu probably wasn’t invented to specially kill them.

There are times to dance, of course.

And yes, there is always time for Kevin Bacon—or any bacon for that matter: Real or fake, turkey or straight from Wilbur himself. Whatever works! Don’t squeeze it, ya’ know what I mean?

Speaking of…

This current landscape definitely needs a wiping—really, if the world is in fact a giant Galactic Show, then I’m almost 97 percent positive that Charmin is the sponsor. Maybe Depends for the Sunday morning programming, but I can’t speculate.

The point is: the time is now-now.

The world has been waiting for…a thing…you know? THAT thing… for something or someone to show us that…stuff can (and will) make sense, that there is some sort of light at the end of the 24/7 news tunnel, that we can eat Chipotle six miles from a usable toilet and not have to sweat it out like a Prohibition Era interrogation.

And Monday night, thanks to Wheel of Fortune, I think we may have just gotten our first Bright Moment de 2017. One that cuts through the fogginess of the unknown, that begins to dam the cascading river of fruit punch on your white rug—proof that there are hidden treasures right in front of the masses. Treasures that explode and radiate shiny elements like a mythical orb into our psyche and Facebook feeds.

And that orb has a name.

And that name is Kelly.


A simple gal really, San Diego citizen via Las Vegas (I think that’s what she said), doing the bartending thing. But I digress. Because this isn’t about what Kelly does for a living or your mustache and suspenders; this is about what Kelly did FOR the living, and what it means for social media consciousness.

And so the story goes…

I don’t know the particulars or the process of what it took to get there in front of Pat and that giant wheel, but that’s where Kelly found herself Monday night, February 20, 2017…18 days past Groundhog Day. On her right and left were two other contestants—who I now call: “The lucky ones who got to watch genius fail, only to see genius prevail.”

And holy shit, was it some genius and some prevailing.

The preface to what I’m about to inspire you with, though, is this: no one really knows how he or she might react/act/explode/shine/hold in a fart when making a debut on national television. It’s simply not something that can be measured or predicted. Ever. And that uncertainty can be unnerving. Even the most cock-strong and surely confident lad can quickly morph into a nervous Chihuahua, shaking and pissing on the welcome mat, once the red light on top of the camera illuminates.

It happens. To a lot of people. And Kelly was not the exception to the rule. She had no clue what was going to happen, how her brain would work when Vanna highlighted a correct piece of the puzzle—and then…Showtime!

With the letter “a” purchased and already on the board of one puzzle, Kelly asked Ol’ Pat if she could buy a vowel. Pat, being the master of chivalry and pimp-hood, obliged. Kelly then asked to buy the letter “a”…and somewhere, behind the foundation and the well-tailored suit and tie, beyond the years of experiencing probably some really silly-ass requests, Pat Leonard Sayjak—along with the rest of the viewing world—squinted a little. Most likely, he heard the collective whispers and agreed: “That guy next to you already bought the “a” Kelly.”

I mean, talk about fucking A, right?!?

Even though it was a mistake that I assumed occurred frequently under such pressures, underneath the surface I could not have imagined what Kelly was experiencing: Dogs became cats, Brad became Ben, Julia became Jen, Jen became Brad, the night turned to day, and Al Roker danced the flamingo in a hot pink number whilst Richard Gere told him he’s OK not kissing on the lips.

The severity of it teetered on another realm, bordered by infinity.

Amazingly though, Kelly—in front of the world and Al Roker and so on—simply shook it off. She didn’t let it get to her. She didn’t let one little hiccup ruin the day—and that’s hutzpah, dear readers. Pure strength. #KellyStrong

It was admirable, really. And it was a damn good trait to possess, because she would need that strength. After all, as they I say, Wheel of Fortune blunders come in twos.

And WHAT a follow-up act it was.

A few games later, with multiple letters already on the board (basically pre-solved by the other two contestants), it was Kelly’s turn to reinvent her television persona, to have vengeance. And, not wanting to waste time, Kelly decided that she would solve the puzzle. Smiling confidently, she looked toward Vanna and shouted: Grilled…Mashhhht…Taters.

(This is when I stopped the show, rewound it, and listened again. And again. Yes, three times total.)

Here’s actor Tom Cruise, portraying me during that exact moment:

Thanks, Tom Cruise.

No matter the answer, mind you, for the déjà vu had already unleashed its unholy trickery on the world, and for a second, I think I saw Vanna White shed a tear.  It was a pinnacle that I never thought was possible on cable television. With one small utterance of nervousness balled into a random dart toss, Kelly chauffeured us to a brain space that is normally left vacant.

Clearly Pat was confused.

Do you blame him?

Look, there’s no doubt you wanted to see this gal succeed. And yes, again, when the camera is on and your mind is moving at the Speed of Huh?, crazy shit happens. I get that. But, here’s the deal: there was already a “t” on the board and the actual phrase—Grilled, fish, tacos—meant that Kelly also added a few letters. At this point, she playing like the the Queen from Alice in Wonderland.

It was truly a mesmerizing spectacle, almost to the crux of skepticism: Are you realllllllllllly a scientist and this is part of your thesis? Hmmmmm?

Sure, I’m totally exaggerating this in order to make a point, but what the fuck?

Grilled. Mashed. Taters.

However, the second blunder didn’t stop Kelly either. What carried the embarrassment power to block a pack of sprinting rhinoceroses was nothing more than a tiny mistake to the San Diego citizen. It was that moment that I said to myself, “Kelly is going to win this thing!” “Kelly is sort of cool.”

And as the game progressed, she started to win, and then win some more. Regardless of her past follies, Kelly simply kept moving forward. By the time I had finished Google-ing: Can you grill mashed potatoes? she had amassed over $20,000. The girl from San Diego via Las Vegas was on a roll—she didn’t drop to the floor and sit Indian style, pouting in regret.

Nothing was stopping Kelly, guys. Nothing.

After she solved the final puzzle, rising from the obscurity of Unaware Vowel Shopper to Wheel of Fortune Champion, I had already thought about writing this ramble about her, about the gal who fell, and fell again, only to eventually wipe out the murk and muck and so forth—at least, for a brief moment.

So, word up, Kelly.

You honestly deserve an “A.”

2 replies »

    • Incredible!! Hi Kelly! I’m beyond happy/elated/excited that this story made its way through the ol’ interwebs and found you! And I’m glad you enjoyed it! You were truly amazing…and the performance needed to be documented 👊🏻

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