The Biggest Disappointment of My Life
Sweepstakes will crush your soul
This is the story of one of the biggest disappointments of my childhood. But first, let's set the scene.
It's 1993, Power Rangers is in full swing. It was probably one of best years for cartoons and 90's nostalgia. Clinton was in office, but you didn't give a shit about that. Everyone was still stoked about Jurassic Park. And you could still get away with wearing horrible fucking patterned pants.
Power Rangers were every where. Being in third grade made it impossible to NOT shit yourself over this Japanese super power dinosaur show. Needless to say I was hooked and basically breathed multi hued power suits and monsters. But who was my favorite?
Who else? The Green Ranger. Let's break this down:
-Green suit (check)
- Sword (check)
- That gold triangle vest thing (check)
- Was at one time evil (check)
- Martial arts bad ass (check)
- Hooked up with the hot ranger (check)
This is one of those rare instances when a character comes along and IS everything you think is cool. He rode around on a Dragon and got with hot chicks. Not to mention his character was evil when he first started out. He was kind of the lone wolf of the Power Rangers. He made the red ranger look like an extra on Step by Step.
So what does this have to do with the most awesome toy I never got? Well, it wasn't Dragonzord. I had that. It was the only Zord I cared about having. But no, it was something else...
Yes. THE FUCKING DRAGON SWORD
You can imagine as a kid how exciting this is. Owning this would be one step closer to actually owning a Zord and becoming a Power Ranger. This is probably the coolest fake bladed weapon that was to ever be released for children. It did everything! It looked like a sword, played the kick ass flute song and was Power Rangers related. This thing was going to be mine. But wait...what is this?
Green. Ranger. Mania. Sweepstakes.
I couldn't comprehend what this was. I'm sure there was a list of specific prizes and stuff. But here's how I interpreted it.
Win this sweepstakes and all your dreams will come true
But what the fuck is a sweepstakes? I have to mail in something? What do I mail in? There were hundreds of questions and no answers. I had to see this commercial again! But alas, this was before the age of DVR and such things. So my little brain started to formulate plans. My first plan of attack was just watching it again and writing it down, we'll call this plan A.
Plan A went a little something like this...
Fool proof. There's no way I won't get the address this time. I'll be chilling with the Green Ranger within a month and win all things.
After waiting eagerly through school all day, I got home and turned on Fox Kids and waited. Anticipating the promo to come on at any second, I had my pen and paper ready. I was on a mission. I didn't bother with such frivolities as Dunkaroos or peeing, I had a sweepstakes to win. I'll piss my pants if I have to.
After sitting through what seemed like 5 hours of cartoons I could care less about, it finally came on. The pen was to the paper and winning was in sight. But wait...the pen wasn't working! Frustrated, I attempted to write the best I could, but nothing. All I got was something like this...
Obviously I was going to have to get more sophisticated. It's time to unleash the VCR on this mother fucking sweepstakes. Which brings me to the ill fated Plan B. The thing about problem solving and planning with children is that, unlike adults, the plans do not seem to improve with each failure. They just get more desperate and frustrating.
Admittedly there were a few flaws in this plan.
A. I didn't know how to work a VCR
B. I didn't bother to write down when the promo came on the day before
C. I didn't know the difference between a blank tape and non blank tape
All three of these would be my undoing.
Planning was not my strong suit back then. So I didn't prepare anything ahead of time. I get home from school and grabbed a tape I didn't think would be missed. Looking through the tapes, I picked out "Murphy's Romance". Surely this would do. Who's going to watch this shit?
I put the tape in the VCR and sat by the VCR waiting for the promo. This was even more uncomfortable than it sounds. But I was on a mission. "God damnit this is going to work" I thought. However you may ask yourself, "why not use the remote?". Well fuck you, sitting by the VCR seemed to be the best idea. I wasn't going to leave anything to chance, especially AAA batteries going bad. My hands weren't dried out ink pens or dead remote controls.
Here's where my plan started to unravel. The promo came on and I excitedly hit 'Record' and waited eagerly for the chance to watch this as many times as I wanted. But as you may have guessed, there was a vital piece of information I was over looking. You can't record over factory VHS tapes without a few modifications. So when you put in a VHS tape like Murphy's Romance and hope to record a Power Rangers sweepstakes over it, you get this instead.
Damn you Sally Field!
It was around this same time my mom walks in and I'm watching the beginning of Murphy's Romance really close to the TV. Not quite sure what her reaction was, but I'm sure it was some sort of confusion.
This plan could have worked easily if I knew how to work a VCR and had basic problem solving skills. If I were to have used a blank tape and hit record at the start of the shows, it would have saved a lot of time and waiting. No, instead I sat next to the tv, eagerly waiting to watch Murphy's Romance. FUCK!
Okay, so time for plan C.
Looking back on it, this plan wasn't as bad as the last one. It at least had a solid premise and I was getting better at problem solving.
Here's what I knew:
1. I couldn't work the VCR worth shit
2. I couldn't write down the stuff in time
3. And I was sick of this bull shit. The contest would be won before I got the address.
So my brain automatically went to..."why not take a picture of it?". Seems like a soild plan right?
So this time, I'm going high tech. If I couldn't record it on the VCR and I couldn't write it down in time, I'll take a fucking picture of the TV. So I got a polaroid camera out and sat my ass on the couch. There was no messing around this time. I knew approximately when the promo came on and tested the camera out on my dog before hand. This was going to work.
It didn't work.
I forgot to turn off the flash and I got a little something that looks like this...
Except much worse.
Trying this again was out of the question since I got in trouble for taking too many pictures of my dog. So I went back to the drawing board. This shit was getting old and I was very close (in my mind) to missing the contest completely.
And we come to Plan D. Given the previous plans, you are probably thinking they are going to get worse. But this is actually when they started to get slightly better. Plan D in my mind is still a shinning example of ingenuity and problem solving. Because of my previous attempts, I had to rethink my process. I couldn't record it, I couldn't write it down in time and I sure as shit couldn't take a picture of it. So what now?
What about hearing it?
Yes...yes! I could just record the audio and relisten to it at my leisure! But how? Oh wait...I've seen Home Alone 2. This will be easy!
I definitely knew how to work this thing. Simple and effective. Needless to say, I was pretty pleased with myself. So when the promo came on again, I was fucking ready. Pulling out the microphone and pointing it towards the tv, I pushed record when the promo came on. As soon as it was over I pushed stop and rewound the gadget. I felt like a mother fucking spy. Bring on Russia.
After I rewound the tape far enough, I listened to my genius. It was all there and perfect quality! But wait...
THEY NEVER FUCKING SAID THE ADDRESS OUT LOUD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
So I had a perfect recording of the promo, taunting me with the details and prizes. I'm sure "flip shit" was an accurate way to describe my mindset. There was nothing else I cared about during this week ordeal. Because when you're a kid, a week is like a month and half in kid time. Nothing mattered anymore. All I wanted was to win this contest and I couldn't even fucking enter.
The gloves were coming off. I was going to pull out the big guns. Mom.
I described my situation to her and it went a little something like this...
Me: *exasperated excitement* "theresthispowerranger promotionalsweepstakes on foxkidsinthe afternoonand Icantgetthe addresstowinthegreen rangerpowersword awesome freaking outcant doit...*breathe*
Mom: "Whats a Fox Power Ranger?"
Me: *repeat above line
Mom: "Oh... (obviously not comprehending) And you want me to do what?"
Me: "Record the promo when it comes on so I can read it and win the sweepstakes"
Mom: "Oh! It's a sweepstakes. You aren't going to win."
Me: "YES I WILL!!!!!!!!!" *probably flames and thunder appeared*
Mom: "Well don't be disappointed when you don't win"
me: "Oh...I won't."
So my mom recorded the afternoon of Fox Kids cartoons and I got the information from the promo. I had to mail an envelope to California and somehow win everything. Luckily I just had experience in sending stuff in the mail due to a project in school. We had to mail letters to places asking for promotional materials, such as maps and brochures. As fate would have it, I mailed mine somewhere in Hollywood.
I forget where exactly I sent it, but I'm sure it was somewhere that didn't put up with bull shit like that. Because I never got a fucking response. So my history with mailing things was spotty at best. But I had clear instructions and sent it to a PO box. What the fuck was a PO box?
But none of this mattered. I mailed out my envelope. Or should I say, waited for the fucking mail man and personally handed him my letter with 10 stamps. I don't think he knew exactly how excited I was, but he didn't dare question my postage.
And then...I felt like it was out of my hands. A weight lifted and an even heavier weight added. I did all could. If I didn't win this, I was done with life. There was no life other than winning this sweepstakes. No possible future I could imagine didn't involve me being best friends with the Green Ranger. In fact, I bet once they meet me, I'll be a Power Ranger too.
So begins the waiting. Have you ever tried waiting for something as a kid that defines your life and probably your future children's lives as well? It's maddening. So I'd go home each day after school and watch Fox Kids, waiting for them to name me winner of all things. It probably wouldn't be out of the question to hold a parade. Not a large one, but something down to earth that shows how much the Green Ranger appreciates my talents.
So the weeks went by. I remember watching the promo after and thinking "pshh..you might as well not even enter, I got this you bunch of ass holes".
Waiting. Life was beginning to turn into shades of black and white. There was this sweepstakes and pretending to live daily life. I ate, but only to sustain myself for winning. Everything was in preparation of winning this competition. I picked out the toys I would take with me. What outfit would best represent me as a sweepstakes winner. And even what I'd say to the Green Ranger. We'd have adventures together and he'd teach me the Green Ranger flute sword song. It's going to be the defining moment of my life.
But as time went by, I got weary of waiting. New sweepstakes were being ran on Fox Kids and still no news that I won. I thought "maybe it takes awhile to pick a winner" and continued waiting. After a few months, I started to lose hope and went through a few stages of psychosis.
Stage 1: Anger
I hated everything and everyone. Especially Fox Kids and everything on it. My sister was stupid. My parents were stupid and so was everyone else. Every morning at the bus stop I yelled at my sister for ruining everyone's lives (she was 6). I broke toys and taunted my sister with headless Barbies. The tape that the promo was on got mysteriously stepped on and put in the trash. I even threw a couple of eggs on to the road for whatever reason.
Stage 2: Denial
I didn't lose the competition. They must be picking me. Surely there was a mistake. I will call them to make sure they got my entry. I'll just call Fox Kids and explain to them the situation. Surely I was the winner. So I asked my parents if it was okay to call Fox Kids. They said "No, it's probably long distance". But I wasn't going to let it stop there. So I got the phone book and called someone with the name of Fox that was local. I don't remember them being amused.
Stage 3: Grief/ Sadness/ Fits of crying
There's not much to say about this stage other than there was a lot of crying.
Stage 4: Depression
Nothing mattered anymore. Toys were the opposite of fun and the Power Rangers made me cry. I remember spending a lot of time in my closet during this period of time. Since I had to go downstairs and eat with the family at dinner, other times I'd eat saltine crackers in my closet just to make a point.
WHAT IS THIS?!?!?!?! A PACKAGE! HOLY FUCKING SHIT! A PACKAGE!
A package arrived. It wasn't addressed to me. But it was a package. About the size of a Green Ranger flute sword. Maybe I won after all?
So I open up the package, hoping to find all my hopes and dreams inside. I start digging around inside the box and come to sad realization that it was not my Power Ranger sword. This was it. This was the tipping point. I threw that mother fucking box outside and went to my closet to disappear from the world.
I cycled through all the previous stages rapidly throughout the same day, in far more intense and violent outbursts. I told my sister she was an adopted poop baby and we were going to get rid of her. My dog was ugly and smelled like shit. Then I came to the conclusion that my parents didn't want me to win and in all liklihood probably sabotaged my sweepstakes entry.
Needless to say my behavior did not go unnoticed and parents asked me what the fuck was going on? I told them I was sick and needed to stay home from school. Obviously they weren't buying this and told me I had to go to school
So the next day I went to school and tried to maintain a normal life there. But it was still hard. Kids running around like they didn't care that they didn't win a sweepstakes. Those smug sons of bitches.
It was around this same time that I got called into the guidance counselor. I was confused on why I was being called in. I mean, usually they talk to the kids who have lice or come to school with bruises. So I go into their office and sit down.
Guidance Counselor (GC): "So how are we doing?"
GC: "You're not in trouble..."
Me: " I didn't do anything"
GC: "do you want to talk about anything?"
Me: "like what?"
GC: "tell me about how stuff is going on at home"
Me: *basically I tell them a version of the above story
GC: "So you're upset you didn't win a sweepstakes?"
Me: *exasperated grunt*
GC: "No one ever wins those. You have a better chance of getting struck by lightning"
Me: "I know..."
This went on for a few more minutes and I got to go to lunch. Not much was resolved here other than another adult telling me sweepstakes were unwinnable. However I did tone down my anger and tried to be normal.
Little did I realize people like these...
...were sending hundreds, if not thousands of entries. While I only sent the one in. Needless to say the aftermath of all this left me bitter and jaded. To this day I do not like sweepstakes and they only remind me of disappointment and failure.
So I didn't win and I never got the Green Ranger sword. But I did learn a valuable life lesson.
Don't enter sweepstakes because they'll suck your soul dry of happiness.
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