For almost as long as I've been alive, Bob Barker has been hosting "The Price is Right." He's an almost mythical figure to me, as eerily wholesome, freakishly worshiped, and shockingly dependable as any other television deity. After a career that began in the pleistocene era, he's announced that 35 years is as close to the right amount of time (without going over) that a sane human can host a show that gives away grandfather clocks and Turtle Wax. Bob's retiring.
When I was growing up I watched a LOT of TPIR. It was on right after whatever kids shows were on, and since I shunned outdoor activities and sunlight I'd watch people run screaming down the aisles, gasping for breath with excitement, lean into that reed-like microphone, and bet $1 more than the guy next to them. He was a daily constant during my summer vacations, and his loving cathode-tube glow warmed me until the sands of the hourglass informed me that TV was about to turn even more vacuous and I'd be forced to do something "productive."
Occasionally you'd see the guy who was grudgingly there with his wife, with his name ("STEVE") written on a giant yellow price-tag like he was on sale at Best Buy, who'd be utterly confused as to why he was guessing the price of tomato paste. Or you'd have over-stimulated housewives who would shake and weep when touching the hem of Bob's garment, rubbing their breasts on his arm and bouncing uncontrollably, but unable to spin the Wheel of Doom a full rotation. And periodically an unassuming person--who probably spent hours wandering through malls and mentally cataloging the price of Rice-a-Roni and washer/dryer sets--would show how pimp-tight their Cliff Hangers or Switcheroo skillz were and walk away with a lovely dinette set and a trip to San Diego.
Then there was Bob himself. He kept $100 bills in his pocket. He was tireless advocate of pet population control. He had the greatest work-environment of any man in history. He got to do something I've wanted to do for years. And despite the hysteria, the endless rotation of spaghetti sauces, Drano, and gazebos, and the occasional moron he always sailed through with dignity and grace.
So here's to you, Bob! Thanks for everything! And don't forget to have your pets spayed or neutered.
(When was the last time you saw a TPIR audience that subdued? Were drugs legal back then?)