Hong Kong Fluey or Misery Loves Cash!

6 07 2013

Hong Kong Phooey

Hong Kong Phooey

I guess I should explain the play on words in the title of this post for the sake of my younger followers. In 1974 there was a short-lived cartoon titled Hong Kong Phooey, which apparently no one watched since it lasted only four months. Six years before that there was the Hong Kong Flu epidemic. I was a junior in high school at the time and one of the unfortunate ones to contract this dreaded disease. The play on words may not be exactly apropos but I liked the sound and since this is my blog, I can write whatever I wish.

The 1968 high school football season had just ended and I wanted to drop from my normal 145 pounds (those were the days!) to wrestle in the 138 pound weight class. I took off about 10 pounds and was in the best shape of my life when I was attacked by the Hong Kong Flu. It was terrible. I recall being so sick my zits hurt. I actually lost another 10 pounds- weight I could ill-afford to lose from my lean frame.

It was about that same time there was a television program called Dialing for Dollars, during which a local TV personality would announce the amount of accumulated cash in their jackpot and what city he was going to be calling. All you had to do was answer the phone and tell them how much the jackpot was and it was yours. My mother was out running errands and I was at home alone-just me in my misery. The jackpot that day was one thousand dollars…a lot of money for a 16 year-old in 1968.

I could hear from my bed, our one and only television, when the show came on. I heard the host say the jackpot was $1,000. When he said he was calling Wilson, my interest was piqued. As he began to dial, in my mind, I was already spending the jackpot. Just after he dialed the last digit the telephone rang. I knew it had to be him. I was so excited I forgot for a moment that I had, only two minutes earlier, been thinking of what to put in my will and making plans to issue apologies to several of my teachers at school for my many transgressions. I jumped from what I was sure was my death bed and ran to the phone. Here again, young readers, this was many years ago and not only did we have no cell phones, we didn’t have a phone in every room either. I actually had to go to another room in the house to get to the phone.

“Hello! Hello!” I shouted with the excitement of someone who had just hit the Plinko jackpot on The Price is Right.

Imagine my disappointment when the caller, my aunt, asked if my mother was at home. I drug myself back to bed, my misery compounded by my disappointment. Death, here I am. Come and get me!

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