When I was but a boy of eight or nine, probably up until the time I was twelve or thirteen, I was not overly fond of school. There may have been a few times when I even feigned sickness in an attempt to get Mom to let me stay home.
Home meant bed and snacks and television. The Bozo Show. The Price is Right at 10. Family Feud with Richard Dawson at 11. And then Ryan's Hope kicking off the ABC soap block at 11:30.
Bozo died. (I'm sorry kids, but it's true.) Richard Dawson left Family Feud. And Ryan's Hope went off the air in 1989. Only one has endured: Bob Barker and The Price Is Right.
The man and the show are as inseparable as a maestro and his baton. Bob Barker is an American icon. Long before there was Vanna White, there were Barker's beauties. He single-handedly introduced "plinko" into the American vernacular for crying out loud. And who among us hasn't wished to hear our name uttered before that most famous of phrases, "Come on down, you're the next contestant on The Price Is Right!"
Barker was the first popular game show host to let his hair go gray. Leading by example, he taught us to pick and choose our battles and causes close to our heart. He didn't try to solve all the world's problems, instead choosing to focus on controlling the pet population.
Around our house, if you were home at 10 in the morning, you watched The Price Is Right. That's just what you did. It seems like there would always be some college student on there from San Diego or USC. And the cars they'd give away would have California tags. And I'd think about California and what a sunny, exciting, exotic place it must be.
Even though I haven't had the chance to watch the show much in recent years, there was always something very comforting knowing that it was still on every Monday thru Friday. Knowing that people were still playing Hole-In-One, The Range Game, Three Strikes, and Cliff Hangers, and spinning the big wheel.
Barker began hosting The Price Is Right September 4, 1972, five months and eight days before a certain blogger you know made his grand entrance into the world kicking and screaming.
For my entire life, Bob Barker and The Price Is Right have been on TV. But now, like everything else, that too is coming to an end. Barker has announced his retirement and his last episode is scheduled to air June 15. So pardon me if I wax nostalgic. It feels like part of my childhood is being lost.
The show will go on, but don't think for a second that it will ever be the same. Barker effortlessly commanded the audience and controlled the show skillfully and smoothly. He became as important to the show as the big wheel, yet never in a way that was over-bearing or took away from the game itself.
I predict that after awhile, ratings will inevitably drop. They'll probably change hosts again. At some point, they'll try to boost interest by altering the rules of the game, or maybe giving the set a snazzier look.
That's one of the things I found so endearing about The Price Is Right, though. The set and colors have changed so little over the years. Sure, it may look a little dated, but again it's sort of comforting.
I hate change, but everything changes. And after June 15, something that has existed as long as I've been alive will be gone. There'll be a new host and the show will go on, but to me, the price will never be exactly right again.
And for Bob's sake, people, have your pets spayed or neutered.
"And in the streets the children screamed, the lovers cried, and the poets dreamed. But not a word was spoken. The church bells all were broken..."