You know those old game shows. The music is festive, the host is always smiling, and the contestants are always more than ecstatic to be pulled from the audience to play to win fantastic prizes.
So you take a chance and play the game when you’re chosen, and you’re lucky. You wind up with a pair of brand new jet skis. You jump up and down, clapping to the audience’s jubilation.
But the show isn’t over.
They ceremoniously bring out the mysterbox, ushered to the stage by a pretty woman in a sparkling evening gown. The hosts reminds you of how this works, but you already know. Everyone knows.
You can walk away now, keeping the jet skis and your dignity, or you can choose whatever is in the mystery box and risk it all.
Anything can be under the box. It can be a new car, something that makes the jet skis look like old toys, left in the basement to rot when adolescence blossomed into adulthood. Maybe it’s a vacation, containing the three greatest words one could ever hear on a game show: “all expenses paid”. Or, more than likely, it will be the booby prize, a can of cat food or a box of old rags.
What’ll it be: the jet skis or the mystery box?
The audience shouts behind you, trying to sway your decision. They’re shouting for you to kerp the jet skis. They’re shouting at you to take the mystery box.
Again, you know how this show works. It’s the booby prizes that draw ratings. Later today, or whenever the show airs, people will talk about all that had transpired. Will they say, “I can’t believe they kept those jet skis”? Will they say, “I can’t believe that amazing prize they got in the mystery box”? Will they say, “I can’t believe that idiot gave up those jet skis for the booty prize”?
So there’s a choice, as your handsome host reminds you with a smile that’s reminiscent of Satan himself. You can take the guaranteed prize, or you can put it all on the line for what’s underneath that brightly-colored box, sitting on a table with the beautiful showgirl, just waiting to reveal what’s inside or wheel it back behind the curtain, leaving it forever a mystery.
The host hushes the crowd, allowing you to make your final decision. Will you take the jet skis, or will you take the mystery box? You told yourself a thousand times you wouldn’t be dumb enough to take the box; but the possibility of never knowing is strong, but the possibility of humiliating defeat at the hands of the booby prize is strong as well.
Time’s running out. What’ll it be?