America’s Next Top Billy Mays

After the final commercial break of the day, Bark was blinded by the stage lights when he stepped onto the Game Show Network stage. The synthesized theme song blared as the cameras swept over the crowd. Originally, VH1 was supposed to air America’s Next Top Billy Mays as a reality show over a period of six weeks, but when they opted to show season fifteen of Flavor of Love instead, the Game Show Network bought the rights to the program. Over a period of six days, men were tested on their Billy Mays-like qualities for a chance to win $10,000 and a contract with Church & Dwight, the makers of OxiClean.

“Bark Johnson!” the host announced through his skinny microphone.

Bark waved to the crowd holding signs saying things like, “Kaboom the Competition, Bark!” He had to remember to respond to the name Bark since it wasn’t his real name. Born Jaime Trevinelli, the producers said his name wasn’t butch enough, and they renamed him Bark Johnson. When he protested, they reminded him how lucky he was he looked white enough to even be considered for a spot in the show, because they knew America wasn’t going to replace Billy Mays with an Italian man.

Bark was sweating though his itchy, long-sleeved blue polyester button-down. With the stage lights on his head and the new beard he’d been required to grow, he was quickly overheated. He didn’t particularly want to be the next Billy Mays, but due to the recession, he’d lost about $10,000 from his life savings, and this seemed like the easiest way to get it back. He walked to one of the three sanders on stage and stood behind it.

It was the last stage in the competition, the Orange Glo Refurbishtacular. After six grueling days, Bark was standing among Jack Jackson and Bob Yeller, the other two final contestants to be America’s Next Top Billy Mays. There were fifteen men at the start of the show, but two were eliminated per day by means of the daily challenges, which ranged from shouting competitions to who could master the OxiClean by getting the spaghetti stain out of the white shirt the fastest. Bark had almost been eliminated during the Mighty Putty challenge when his putty job failed to prevent a leak in a garden hose, but he was saved when Ed Mange’s ambitious shelf-made-of-Mighty-Putty idea fell flat, literally.

“Gentlemen, welcome back to the stage,” said the host, “It is now time for the moment we’ve all been waiting for, the Orange Glo Refurbishtacular!”

Jack and Bob growled at Bark.

“Alright,” continued the host, “when I say ‘go’, you each take your sanders and simulate years of wear and tear on your hardwood floor samples. Then you use the Orange Glo to mop up the sawdust and make it look like you polished the floor.”

Jack, Bob, and Bark gripped the handles of their respective floor sanders.

“Ready,” the host said with a smile, “set, go!”

In a blur, Bark quickly ran the sander over his hardwood floor sample. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Jack struggle with his sander, but Bob was making good time, in fact, he’d already moved on to the Orange Glo. Bark finished sanding the floor and grabbed the Orange Glo. With deft fingers, he sloshed it on the hardwood floor and dabbed it up with a towel just two seconds before Bob finished.

“No!” Bob yelled.

“And the winner is Bark Johnson!” the host cried.

Bark couldn’t believe his ears. He won? Bob cursed his timing. The host strolled over to Bark and put his arm around his shoulders. “Well, Bark, how does it feel to win a contract with Church & Dwight and ten thousand OxiClean dollars?”

“It feels good,” Bark said but became confused. “What do you mean, ‘OxiClean dollars’?”

“Ten thousand dollars in OxiClean coupons!” the host shouted into the microphone with glee. The crowd cheered.

Bark was not happy about this. “Oh…thanks?” he mumbled. He wanted real dollars, not OxiClean coupons.

“And Bob, for coming in second, you will receive a complimentary WashMatik and Quick Chop!” The host announced.

Bark decided it was better to have a lucrative contract with Church & Dwight than a hose he’d never use and a knife that usually broke on its first use. Besides, he could use the OxiClean to get the pit stains out of his shirt. Now all he had to do was practice his yelling techniques.

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