You have to give the contestants points for bravery. Marco Island saw the first, but probably not the last, “Not So Newlywed Game” on Wednesday evening at the JW Marriott, taking the classic game show format and adapting it to put five local couples’ marriages under the microscope.

Think about it; would you be comfortable discussing the more intimate details of your relationship with your significant other onstage in a room full of 150 of your closest friends, acquaintances and business associates? These partners did, with often hilarious results for each other, the other couples and the audience.

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After an introduction by Rotary Club committee member and local attorney Bill Morris, which brought out that the pairs had been married for wildly diverse timeframes – one year for Dale and Jimmy Downey, owners of Wild Jimmy’s Beef Jerky, up to 54 for Barbara and Keith Dameron of Iberia Bank – the questioning from emcee Mike Murphy, Marco Island’s Fire-Rescue Chief, began. First, the ladies were sent out of the room, and out of earshot, while the husbands were asked five questions.

“Describe the time, date, and the place the last time you passionately kissed her,” instructed Murphy, reminding the contestants they needed to guess what their wives would say in response. “How would your wife complete this sentence? When we make love, it’s good. When we fight, it’s bad, but when we blank it’s just plain ugly.”

Another zinger with considerable downside potential: “If you could change one habit of your wife’s, what would it be?”

“That’s opening a can of worms – you’ve gotta go home with them,” noted Kathleen Peters in the audience, and there were several questions where that applied.

“George, it’s your birthday,” said Murphy to MICMS principal George Abounader, adding “and it might be the last day of your life” when his wife, known professionally as YMCA executive director Cindy Love, returned to the room.

“What body part did your wife say would be off limits” for discussing during the game, “and what body would you say is all right?” was another question.

There was considerable rolling of eyes from the gentlemen as they wrote answers, and Curt Koon, co-owner of CJ’s on the Bay with his wife – at least for the moment – Jacquie, asked the audience, “anyone want to buy a bar?”

But the most fun was when the ladies returned, gave their answers, and found out what their husbands had guessed they would say. City Council Chairman Larry Honig scored when wife Lisa, an executive with the American Cancer Society, confirmed he can’t stand it when she “talks with her fork.”

There were some more intimate details from various couples, but the audience was asked not to record the event, so there is no need to go deeper into “tatas and hooha” or a body wax gone wrong, all of which came under discussion, along with skinny dipping, getting “caught” during a romantic interlude and the relative merits of Jennifer Aniston and Pamela Anderson.

The process was then repeated with the ladies taking questions, after being fortified by a visit to the bar, while the men stepped outside. Asked to name the animal their husbands resemble, several ladies came up with lions, while George correctly guessed Cindy would say camel, and Jimmy missed Dale pegging him as an ape, but then proceeded to act out the motions.

The Abounader team was poised to win the $1,000 prize for the charity of their choice, when Curt and Jacquie swept up from behind with the last, audience-submitted bonus question. They gave their winnings back to the Rotary Club of Marco Island Sunrise, the sponsor of the evening, for its charitable work, as did the winner of the 50/50 raffle. Of course, the real way to win this game was to go home on speaking terms with your spouse, but from the smiles, hugging and general hilarity, that seemed to be no problem.

“We were desperate to find a new fundraiser,” said Debra Shanahan, who coordinated the event along with Morris and Wanda Burson. They had not figured out a net figure at presstime, but grossed over $16,000 from the evening, she said.


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