Thursday, June 14, 2007

Remember folks, help control the pet population by having your pets spayed or neutered!

I skipped school only once. Can you believe it? Only once. Nerd.

I skipped school only once when I was in either seventh or eighth grade and it wasn’t even so I could do anything cool like hang out on Mt. Helena with the other skippers or go to the mall.

It was so I could watch The Price is Right.

You know, I was a good student. Good grades, plenty of extra curricular activities, and since I had always been a super square rule-follower, it just never crossed my mind to consider skipping school. You went to school. That’s what you did.

But I woke up that freezing cold morning in Helena, Montana and I just knew in my heart that I could not go to school that day. I was seriously blue. I’m sure there was some sort of teen angst situation bringing me down that I can’t even remember now, but I recall laying there that morning thinking there was no way I could face a day at school. And the only thing that could possibly make me feel better was staying home from school and watching The Price is Right at 10:00.

I loved the Price is Right. Summer breaks were fun for about one million reasons, one of which was I could catch up on P is R, the best game show in the universe.

I probably should have just told my parents the truth that day – that I was just too blue to go to school – to see how they would have responded. I was a good kid; didn’t cause any trouble. Certainly they could give me one mental holiday. But I had a suspicion they probably wouldn’t understand, so I had to come up with Plan B.

I couldn’t lay in bed and fake sick because I wasn’t believable so I begrudgingly hauled myself into the shower where I hatched a beautiful plan that came to me in a moment of divine inspiration.

We lived in the country, about 15-20 miles outside of town, and we rode the bus to school every morning. There was a ton of snow on the ground and a good foot of fresh fallen made it hard to get around on our country road, so on her way to work, mom dropped me off at Kim’s bus stop, which was on the paved road so I could wait for the bus with her.

I knew Kim wouldn’t be down on the road yet because she was always late. So as mom drove off, I simply trudged through some snow and waited behind a giant pine tree away from the path a little bit. It was still sort of dark outside and eerily quiet, but after about 10 minutes, I heard Kim shuffling through the snow down the long path to the road. I watched her go by and said a silent “see you tomorrow” as she waited for the bus. It came about 3 minutes later and I was all alone, standing in a snow drift, hiding behind a tree.

All because I was blue and needed to watch The Price is Right or I might die.

The rub? I had to walk TWO MILES THROUGH THE SNOW DRIFTS to get back home. And because God wanted me to pay some sort of penance for my diabolical deceit, it started to snow heavily again. I was petrified that someone would drive by on that country road, see me and offer to take me to school. As guilty as I was feeling about this whole thing – remember, I was a good girl who ALWAYS played by the rules and fretted and obsessed about everything in life - this was some bold maneuvering.

But ultimately God must have understood that I really needed to watch Price is Right because he got me through the snow drifts and blizzard with my backpack in tow.

I still remember how weird it felt to be wandering around at home when I knew I should be at school. Slightly liberating. Slightly panicky. Because getting caught would mean I’d never get into a good college and my whole life would be destroyed, right?

But when 10:00 rolled around and I snuggled up to the TV with my cup of hot chocolate everything felt better. There was my guy – Bob Barker – waiting on the stage as Rod Roddy told those crazy people to “Come on down” because they were the next contestants on the Price is Right.

The coolest thing of all? Unbeknownst to me, this was one of the few episodes in the show’s history where EVERY SINGLE PRIZE FOR EVERY SINGLE SHOWCASE WAS A NEW CAR! You remember how it went. In the first half of the show the prizes were usually a Lazy Boy recliner, a washer/dryer set, and then the car. Then the same types of prizes in the second half. It was unbelievable when Bob kept giving everyone cars.

Whether it was check writing game, or the golf putting game or that ridiculous yodeling mountain climber game, people kept winning cars. Totally awesome. I don’t remember much about the showcase showdown at the end, other than it was all cars and RVs and campers and boats. Pretty cool.

I felt better after the Price is Right. I proceeded to watch Family Feud, the $25,000 Pyramid and Scrabble. I threw in a little Hogan’s Heroes and I Love Lucy and topped it all off with some General Hospital.

I remember feeling pretty guilty that evening, but I knew in my heart that I hadn’t missed much at school that couldn’t be made up, and I had been fortified to carry on by Chuck Woolery, Luke and Laura, and most of all, Bob Barker.

You’d have to be living in cave to not know that Bob has retired from the Price is Right and the last episode with him as host airs tomorrow. For 83 and with snow white hair, the guy looks amazingly like he always has. I must admit I feel a twinge of sadness that he’s hanging up his mic. While I haven’t watched the Price is Right in over twenty years, I will miss knowing that Bob Barker is dodging crazed women wanting to kiss him when they get on stage, telling us that the closest bid without going over is the winner, and encouraging everyone to control the pet population.

The real question is, should I skip work tomorrow and watch the final episode for old time’s sake?

A post script:

Here's a clip of one of the greatest moments in Price is Right history. Rigged? Probably. Awesome nonetheless? Absolutely!


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