The show had an air date of December 4th 1974 but it was taped in early September of that same year. It was done in front of a live audience so it was pretty much a one take deal. As far as rehearsals went: they showed us where to sit, where to stand and they went over a list of things we were not allowed to say. I won’t repeat that here – just think of George Carlin.
Before the show began the three bachelors drew straws to see who would be Bachelor # 1. I got the short straw, it was me. The other two guys flipped a coin for their positions. We took our seats and immediately, Bachelor # 2 asked if he had time to go to the men’s room. His request was denied and I just know that he spent the rest of the show wishing for it to be over. At that point, I don’t think he cared who won.
The lights came up, the audience was cued to clap and cheer, Johnny introduced Jim Lange and the part of the stage where we were seated on our high stools, spun around and Jim got right to it. “Bachelor # 1 is an artist and a revolutionary with a keen interest in underwater travel. A citizen of Planet Earth, lets welcome TNKerr.” The lights on me were raised and there was a smattering of applause from the studio audience. Although I waved and smiled, hippies like me were still not mainstream in those days and I looked a lot like Dennis Hopper had in Easy Rider.
Jim continued, “From Chicago, Bachelor #2 is a CPA specializing in tax preparation. He has two cats and likes to watch badminton. Ken Darling.” More applause and the lights came up on poor Ken with his receding hairline and comb over. He was thumping his knees together at a rate of about 73 BPM. He stood for a second before remembering that he was not supposed to do that and sat back down promptly.
“Let’s welcome Bachelor #3, Ozzie Savage is a lumberjack from Beaver Junction, Maine. He has a cabin in the woods and is an avid snow collector.” The lights came up on Ozzie; he pushed his thick glasses up higher on his nose and brushed his bangs back off his forehead. Then he sat still, staring stoically, straight ahead. He got even less applause than I had. Clearly Ken was going to be the crowd favorite, if he didn’t wet his pants.
Undeterred and always the professional; Jim went right on; “Our special guest has been kept offstage in a soundproof booth. I would like you to meet her, right now. Rachel LaRue is a former pageant winner and now a stewardess from Overland Park, Kansas. She is an amateur actress who enjoys nude sunbathing and “scratch and sniff” stickers.” Rachel came onstage and took her mark on the other side of the wall.
My descriptions of Rachel before I could see her have been gleaned from watching the show later, after the fact. Obviously, I could not see her, nor could she see me, at this point. I learned of her actions and reactions later.
She waved and shook Jim’s hand. She had big hair and big tits. Wearing a high-waisted empire dress she shook her shoulders a lot, presumably to draw your eyes to her breasts by inducing a pendulous sway that was really quite hypnotic, breathtaking.
Jim asked her about being a pageant winner and she explained that she had been Miss Junior Wheat when she was only eight years old. She must have oscillated her shoulders at that point because, all the men in the studio audience erupted into a loud ovation. Production assistants held up cue cards and soon the women in the audience reluctantly joined in the applause as well.
Rachel went straight to the questions, “Bachelor #3 – If you were asked to give yourself a nickname, what would it be?”
“Ahyuh, prolly be Ozzy.” He said.
“OK,” said Rachel. What about you #2?”
Ken whipped his head around. The slapping sound of his thighs beating together slowed ever so slightly. “I’d be ‘Mr. Bitchin’,” he said with a hundred watt smile. “’Cause I’m so bitchin’. And chicks dig me ‘cause I have high income potential.”
Rachel did that thing with the shoulders again, restarted the pendulum. The crowd went wild and they were still swinging when she said, “Bachelor #1, if you were asked to give me a nickname, what would it be?”
I sat up straight, “I really don’t know you well enough to answer that but, based on audience reaction… maybe… ‘Sweetheart’?” I put my face in my hands and shook my head. Did I really just say that? I’m doomed; I’ll never hear the end of this.
The rest of the show was a blur. She asked more deep and meaningful questions like: What is your best pick-up line? If you were a superhero, who would you be? What is something you did as a teenager that you parents never learned about? I never said a word about me and Spike and that night at the levee. In fact, I’ve tried to block all that out. But, to make a long story short, she didn’t choose me or the lumberjack from Maine. She chose Ken and, when she did; he lost his water. When he came around the wall the camera could only show him from the waist up and when Rachel leaned in from the waist to peck him on the cheek, for the obligatory peck on the cheek, she was not smiling. I don’t think she wanted to send her dress out for cleaning yet. She kept moving away from him while Johnny announced the details of the dream date they had won.
Me? I went back to Planet Earth, got a haircut, and spent too many years boring holes in the ocean. I still play with the arts and tell people that, when the revolution comes it will be conspicuous consumers like them that’ll be the first to go.
I haven’t thought about The Dating Game in years. Last night, I watched my younger self in a rerun on one of those cable channels that no one ever watches. It was about 2 o’clock in the morning. Rachel LaRue was a hoot. She was the star of that Episode. I woke her up and told her so.
I read a couple of the other pieces on the grid and the quality of the writers here is mind boggling. I said to myself, “Self, I think I can roll with this but I gotta give ’em something that even I’m not expecting.”
Click on the badge and read some things that you’re not expecting! You’re looking for challenge 169.