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Sandy Knauer

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America's Got Sob Stories
By Sandy Knauer
Tuesday, June 24, 2008

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A new reality show?

Forty-five minutes into the debut of the newest talent show, America's Got Sob Stories, I picked up the phone, fully prepared to call in a vote for Tiffany Crosswell, who delivered her third set of triplets onstage, without anesthesia or a physician. "I need the million dollars to raise all these kids," she sang, as the only boy's head crowned. The fact that she managed to stay on key after the emcee puked beside her head was the deciding factor for me. That beat the eighty-year-old senator from Kentucky, who had, despite being born with one arm shorter than the other, picked a sandwich bag full of lint off his sleeves in fourteen seconds.

I had to vote fair, even though the senator said he would resign if he won, and I knew that would be best for my country. It was a tough decision.

I punched in 1-800 but dropped the phone when six-year-old Alexandra Smith appeared on my television screen. She slithered across the stage, dragging casted legs behind her, and stopped in front of the judges.

The female judge gasped and fanned her face with a hanky. "Are you okay? What happened to your legs?"

"I tumbled too long," Alexandra explained. "Practiced my routine three days without stopping."

Barely missing the mess that he and Tiffany had left earlier, the emcee dropped to pushup position beside Alexandra. "What are you going to do for us tonight?"

Alexandria recited the Ten Commandments, in Spanish and French. The crowd roared and I realized I must be heartless. Given a choice, I would have watched the Senator fill another sandwich bag.

I learned a lesson about voting too soon when the final act ended up being my favorite. Forty-six-year-old George Something-I-can't-spell explained that his mother had sold crack on the corner of 34th and Ash to earn his fare to the audition. She was arrested and his father filed for a divorce and kicked George out of the house. He needed the money because he had no job skills.

"I broke all four limbs once," he said. "Ain't none of my arms and legs the same size, and I passed a kidney stone bigger than any of them twins." He clipped clothespins on his eyelids and removed his fingernails with pliers. The audience and judges cleared the theater.

I cast my phone and internet votes for George, mostly because I can't imagine anyone paying to see his act again and I don't want to see him on welfare.

I'll let you know if George yanks out his toenails next week.

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