Chuck’s Hopeful Attempt Never Ceased, Ever.

I have to take this moment right now and admit that I failed.

I thought I kicked an addition, I thought that I had enough strength and fortitude and will power to keep from getting sucked into this painful, brutal, soul-sucking addiction.

But even with all that, I came out of it as a better person because of the kind words someone shared with me.


Last Monday, against every single ounce of common sense in my body, I traveled to New York City.  Not to see a Broadway show, not to photograph in Central Park, not to do any of those things.

Nope.  Chuck tried out for the Chance again.

Yes, I did.  And this was after my tear-filled reaction to what was my 20th rejection from the show.  I thought to myself, “Why do I do this every time?  Why do I get my hopes up, why do I keep trying, when it’s obvious that The Chance doesn’t want me?”

On the train ride to New York, I thought about that blog post.  Even though most of my common sense told me that I would have better odds of running a three-minute mile than I would of appearing on the Chance…

I decided to give it one last try.  I couldn’t let it end with such a bitter, dull metallic taste in my mouth.

I arrived at the tryout center.  The line snaked around the building.

I knew the routine by now.  Check in with the interns.  Fill out some paperwork.  Walk through the metal detectors.  30 questions.  10 minutes.  Ready… set… begin.

Hokey smokes, these answers are like cotton candy to a four-year-old.  East of Eden.  Wild Wild West.  Joe South.  North Dakota.  Aced the test.

My number is called.  I meet with an interviewer.  I am asked if I’ve done anything that makes someone smile?

And in a micro-instant, I remembered.  The story of the fortune cookie.

The interviewer smiled.  She wrote some notes on my application.

In that moment of moments, I remembered.  This is the door to The Chance.  I’ve never gotten past it.  It’s like Bernard Hopkins is standing in front of the door, blocking my passage by his own sheer will and aura.

I’ve done everything I can.  Time to go home and wait for the eventual e-mail o’doom.  Hey, maybe it’ll be in my e-mail account before I get home…

“You know what, Mr. Miller?”


“Could you please stick around for a little while, I’d like you to have another interview … this time with my producer.”


She handed me a document that required my signature.  It was as if Bernard Hopkins opened the door and waved me through.

I’ve never gotten this close to the Chance in my life.  I don’t care what that release paper said, I signed that as if I would receive a golden violin in exchange.

Now comes a new tactic.  I wait.  I wait with several other people who will be interviewed, one by one.  My heart is pounding faster than a Devo drum track.

My name is called.  I am escorted into a room.  A person interviews me, this time I am asked questions in front of a video camera.  The producer of The Chance will review the tapes, and it will be his choice as to who gets to that final point.

I did everything asked of me.  I answered the questions – two out of three correctly, that third one was hella-brutal.

All I could think of on the way home, on the ride back on the train, was, “I did everything I could.  I’ve gotten the second interview.  I have to believe.  The longest journeys have finish lines in front of them.  I’ve got momentum.  Heck, I just nailed the Summer Bowl trivia tournament for the third time in five years.  I can do this.  My hopes are up.  So what if I failed twenty times?  Isn’t 21 the charm?  Triple 7’s?  Blackjack?”

I held my hopes up, but my superstitions kicked in.  For three days, I kept quiet about it.  I didn’t comment about it on Facebook.  I didn’t blog about it.

And on Thursday afternoon… three days after the interview… I received the news.

That after twenty-one tries…

I printed out the e-mail and stuffed the printout in my back pocket.

That Thursday night, I took my girlfriend Nicole to Jumpin’ Jack’s for some burgers and soda.  We had a great time, we even watched some of the rehearsals and practices by the water-skiing team that entertains Jumpin’ Jack’s customers on Tuesday nights.

“Nicole,” I said, “I have something to show you.”

And with that, I passed the folded e-mail to her.

She opened it.

Thank you for your interest in being a contestant on “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire.”  You have not been selected to be a potential contestant.  We appreciate your continued interest in the show and thank you for taking the time to audition with us.

“Sorry,” I muttered.  “I tried.  I really did.  But I can’t try any more.  If, after that additional interview, they still don’t want me … then it was never meant to be, I guess.”

She folded up the piece of paper.  “You did your best,” she smiled.  “And you’ll always be my millionaire.”

And at that point, in that very second of the cosmic frame of time, I realized that I have a million-dollar prize in my life.  I didn’t need lifelines or phone-a-friends or any of that.

I have Nicole.

And with that, all the pain and anguish of failing for the 21st time, of coming closer than ever and still being swatted away… it didn’t matter.  Not the 21 fails.  What mattered was that I kept trying, 21 times.

And maybe someday I’ll try again.  Not immediately, mind you – maybe in a year or two.   I don’t need to run back to New York City tomorrow.  Give it some time.  Don’t ignore it completely… but take time to breathe.  Recharge.

Missing The Chance doesn’t define me as a person.  And I just realized that, no matter how many times I tried, missing NEVER defined me as a person.

Believing in myself… never giving up…

That’s a better definition.

I’d rather have that definition, anyway.