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I’ve been clean now for 3 months.. Recently I lapsed into a moment of weakenss but before that glitch, I’d gone without for years.  Yes, I am a competition junkie.  It all started when I shifted to Bendigo when I was first married (primarily to get away from the mother in law from hell)  There was a competition to win 2 Tontine pillows. I wasn’t working and didn’t know many people up there so was bored stupid.  The radio became my friend.  In for a penny in for a pound, no one knows me up here after all.. so I entered AND WON!!!!  Everyone says that just once won’t hurt them.. that they can give up whenever they want to but that’s so not true.. You become addicted with the thrill of the win that first time and it’s too late to turn back.

When we shifted back to Geelong, I used to listen to morning radio.  There are two radio stations in Geelong and I started listening to K-Rock, then progressed to Bay FM.. Now Geelong is one of those places as I’ve discussed before, that has maintained it’s small town feel.  If you phone a radio station and make an idiot of yourself, chances are, someone you know will have heard you and point out to you just that.  When I first got married I was only working part time, so was able to continue my prize addiction.   I did pretty well for myself too considering I had to use a dial phone.. No push buttons back then, I had to shove my fingers in the appropriate number hole, drag it all the way down, let it flick back then do it all over again till I dialed the number.  I was pretty quick.. nowhere near as quick as I am on a push button phone but I did okay.  I also have a great memory for numbers, or at least I did back then, so as soon as a competition was happening, I started dialing.

I usually got through too.  I think this was more to do with the fact that most people were scared to make an idiot of themselves and I wasn’t.  I won all sorts of prizes.. A $500 clothing voucher from Portmans… numerous dinners out…. tickets to stage shows… tickets to movies….wine… food hampers…. you name it, I probably won it. I guessed the secret sound one day and won a sun roof, fully installed, for my car.. Now that was so exciting.  Driving around with the roof open and having the sun burn your scalp while the wind destroyed any semblance of a hairstyle you once had… Ah yes… that was  luxury.  It was a love affair that only ceased when the car caught fire one day as I was driving with 3 babies and 3 pregnant women in the car.. (the fire got put out but I wouldn’t drive it after that)

I used to phone so often they would recognise my voice as soon as they answered, so I started to disguise my voice and use a different name.. Then they changed the prize pick up to wanting identification so I would use a friend’s name and ask them to pick it up for me.. I had a whole range of names to use.  I was generally winning at least 2-3 prizes a week..  We stopped having to pay for dinners or movie tickets.  CD’s were another big winner and I built up a great collection over time, all free.. I won tickets to see Don McLean in concert as well as the musical Showboat, Singing in the Rain, Best Little Whorehouse in Texas and so many more that I can’t think of.  I was completely addicted.

After I got divorced, the addiction escalated as I didn’t have the money for luxuries, so winning was a necessity.  At times I had to do some pretty crazy things to win whatever the lure was.  In 1998, my stereo had finally given up the ghost.  Now how does a girl play all the CD’s she’s won if she doesn’t have a stereo.

I turned the radio on one morning to hear them announce a karaoke competition.  This one you had to leave a song message on their answering machine and the best 3 for the day would be played the next morning.. One of those 3 would go through to the grand final.  At the end of two weeks, there would be 10 finalists and the winner out of that 10 would win a stereo.  And a good stereo too.. I knew I had to win it so I phoned and left a verse of Janis Joplin’s Mercedes Benz.  Next morning, they phoned me as I was one of the three finalists and I won the heat for the day, so straight through to the grand final.

Now, it all sounds pretty easy so far, until I found out that the competition was actually to murder your song in the shower (and I thought I was pretty good too).. so the grand finalists had to sing in a shower cubicle in the middle of the local Harvey Norman department store.  My sister in law told me it wasn’t good enough to just sing, i had to suck up to the sponsors so needed to change the words to the song.. That was easy enough.. I did that all the time (sometimes intentionally too)  So two weeks later, I found myself driving to the store in my pyjamas, dressing gown, shower cap with a rubber ducky hanging from a loofah around my neck… I was determined to knock them dead..

I was contestant number 7.. and I stood nervously waiting for my turn.  Some were murdering their songs, some were doing a good job.  Like me, some had changed the words and some had just chosen funny songs to sing.  One guy had a mannequin with him and did both parts of Summer Loving.. Another did a version of the Beatles Yesterday, but it was a song about Haemmarhoids.. One good looking young guy stripped down to his boxers and strutted his stuff for us.. By now I was totally overwhelmed.

A huge contingency of family and friends had turned up to witness what I was starting to feel would be the ultimate humiliation.  I was sure the song was funny but I had written it whilst imbibing on a lovely Chateau du Cardboard…so what if the wine made it funnier than it really was. It was finally my turn and it was too late to run away.  A chubby lady in a bright pink dressing gown, with a rubber ducky dangling from her cleavage, cow slippers that mooed everytime she walked and a shower cap on her head was going to be instantly recognisable. With a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach, I waited to be introduced.

The DJ from the radio station who was hosting started to introduce me.. I went to climb up into the shower cubicle and realised it was a tad higher than I thought, so had to heave myself up, walked in and shut the shower door.  I should explain at this time that due to using a microphone, there was no water in the shower.. just glass surrounding me like a fishbowl with everyone waiting with high expectations.  I started to sing and knew in the first 2 lines that I had the audience.  That my friends, is the best experience, knowing you’ve captured them.  The crowd started to clap along but were out of time which made it hardto keep my time but  I kept going, sucking up to the sponsors, Kenwood, K-Rock and Harvey Norman as I went.

When I finished, there was a thunderous applause and I heaved a massive sigh of relief.  I got out, almost fell down the huge step and just tried to bring my pulse back to normal while the next person got up to sing.  After everyone had finished and some consideration by the judges, the winner was announced.. Yes I had my stereo.  I went home from there, still in my pyjamas and dressing gown though I did remove the shower cap and rubber ducky.

That was probably my most memorable win although there was the  time I kept phoning the same radio station to win double passes to see the movie The Notebook was great.  I phoned every day for a fortnight using friends names and won 10 double passes.  20 of us headed off to see the movie.. only to have to sit near one of my sisters in law who sobbed loudly all the way through. Occasionally a friend would phone me up and say.. Umm did I win on the radio station this morning??? and yes they had.

When I left Geelong, I went cold turkey and just gave up.  I figured a new environment would make it easier to give up.. After all, I don’t even know the numbers of other radio stations, only the two Geelong ones.  I should say that I have entered the occasional competition on Facebook and have won a $100 gift card and also a bouquet of flowers to be sent to a friend.  But just recently, I shifted into a house where the TV aerial wasn’t connected so didn’t have tv for a while.  I resorted to listening to a local Lithgow radio station and they had a competition for a $100 furniture voucher.  Yes, I got the same old cravings all over again and caved in.. I phoned, answered the question and won the prize.  I have to head over to Bathurst one day soon to spend it.  I just hope I don’t have to spend an extra couple of hundreds just to be able to buy something with it.

I’ve attached the video of my stereo win for you to see.. Lousy quality but you’ll get the picture.  Anyway, must get going and fill in my puzzle magazine. I want a new car..

Happy competing.. Livvy 🙂

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