“We are back ladies and gentlemen! I am your host Tony Holdsworth and unless you’ve been hiding under a rock until now you must know that we are about to find out who is the Toyota Happiest Person in the Universe!” Apparently over the three hour telecast more sponsors had coughed up the big bucks to take advantage of the massive TV ratings. Next to Holdsworth was a panel stretching out six deep both ways. It featured the latest pop sensation who had sung her latest homage to sex; the richest man in the world, his wife; A comedian dressed up as the Dalai Lama; a feminist who had claimed without a doubt that it would be a woman because they overcome great hurdles and are more content for it, as well as a wide array of self help authors and psychologists. They all looked to be fatiguing except for Tony and the pop sensation, both well trained to look happy in any situation. The producers recognised the tiring guests and placed the diva (who was the ‘stupid slut’ to Lucy’s ‘Sexy Sophisticat’) positioned next to Tony and the camera zoomed in on these two alone.
Lucy sat at the edge of the guests at this point, her stomach felt as though it had been wrenched into a little sponge that could fit in a hand like a stress ball. Nobody cared about her opinions any more; science had served its duty and she had got used to the incorrect claim that this machine could encompass the whole universe. All they had to do was pull the Bud Light Lever. Ugh! Now she was calling it the Bud Light Lever. The whole lever element was irrelevant. Why had she agreed to this show? She could have run the test weeks ago and found the one it selected and given him or her a fair chance to gain scientific benefits. Why had she done it like this? But she knew before she finished asking herself because she had asked herself a million times already, trying to convince herself that it was the only way. The reason was obvious; the bane of science: Money. As sick as she felt, she was getting a handsome sum. She agreed to hand over the rights of the machine. She agreed to appear on TV. She agreed to wear the skimpy clothes. As long as she could finish her life work and find this person. It would help the whole world. Wouldn’t it?
“And the moment has dawned upon us ladies and gentlemen! I am now going to draw the name out of the hat of the lucky audience member who gets to pull the Bud Light Lever!”
“Oh for fuck’s sake” Lucy muttered under her breath.
“They will also be receiving a year’s supply of Bud Light!” The audience erupted in excitement. The name was drawn and a fat man wobbled down the stairs from one of the top tiers of the studio. Flashes of The Price is Right flooded a billion people’s conscious. The man was sweating by the time he reached Tony. “You look so happy to be here!”
“Hey you give me a year o’ beer and I’ll be goshdarned if my name doesn’t show up on that dang board!” The audience broke out in laughter and the fat man looked around with pride.
After another ad break (Lucy feeling on the brink of passing out) the fat man pulled the lever. The producers were cursing his rushed manner in yanking it, they had hoped for even more suspense building. The big screen scrolled rapidly through names like the reel of a poker machine through sevens and royalty. It was all a pre recorded gimmick to suggest that it was testing every individual person in the planet (or universe!). In reality, the name had popped up on the small display screen earlier that day and the rushed girl was organising the pre-designed graphic to come up on the big screen.
A mug shot picture of a sorry looking balding man showed up under the flashing name. He had a crooked smile and his eyes seemed unfocussed as if he usually wore glasses. Beyond his receding hairline he had shaved his head and it was the same length as his uneven beard.
There was an uneasy feeling in the studio. People seemed to doubt the results and some muffled giggles were audible in the awkward silence. “Walter Wallace!” Tony exclaimed, reinvigorating the atmosphere. “We are going to take a short break,” he said looking directly into the camera, the fat man was lingering idiotically close to Tony’s side and not allowing the camera to give Tony the whole frame of the shot, “and when we come back we will have cameras outside Mr Wallace’s house ready to ask him how he feels!” The light went off on the camera as the ads kicked in, “Get out of the way you fat moron,” Tony spat at the idling slob. The broad smile that had rippled down through his chins shrunk into a quivering pout. He was obviously remembering why he had, as Lucy would say, ‘Not a chance’ at being the happiest person in the world. As Lucy looked around the crowd she began to notice that a lot of people were suddenly reminding themselves why their names had not shown up. She then imagined everyone around the world feeling a similar comedown. Then she began to feel hers all over again.