The Price is Right is entering its 50th season on September 13, 2021! The longest running game show in history. Of course, that's quite an achievement. But it's also something special to me. You know I love to tell stories. Here's a funny anecdote about how it changed me...
In the 70s, I'm still living in Canada. When my father died in 1976, my sisters rented their first apartment in a high-rise building that had an exciting new feature: Cable TV! That's how I discovered The Price is Right and Bob Barker who had been hosting it since the beginning in 1972. Every time I visited my sisters' place, I was mesmerized by this fabulous quiz. Even though it's in English (not my first language), the swirl of colors, lights and sliding doors everywhere captivated me like never before. I was 12 years old and already a hyper creative kid.
In my bedroom, you'd find custom-built pop-up books, a cardboard model of the village from the Asterix comic books and a huge baker's box under my bed filled with Lego that were used to recreate The Thunderbirds aircrafts or houses whose roofs you could open to reveal fully furnished rooms. For a lonely little boy raised by his grandmother, life-size games in 3D like on that TV show, it was incredible and so dreamy. I could already see myself planning to reproduce them.
New TV, new life
My grandmother seeing my strong interest decides to buy a brand new (and expensive) Electrohome TV set for the kitchen and to subscribe to cable. Yeahhh!!! I spent the next summer glued to the TV with my new idol, Bob Barker. A few weeks later, my grandmother asks me "How do you know what's going on?" Proudly, I replied, "It's always the same every day. The same games come up again and again. And they repeat the names of the products 3 times: the announcer, the host, the player. It's very easy if you listen." Grandma thought I was pretty smart and she was so proud of her initiative. Not only was I captivated by the games that pushed my creativity to its limits for my young age, but without realizing it, I was also learning to do probability calculations, the value of goods, the cost of groceries, understanding money... and speak English!!! For her, an older teacher of three decades on the verge of retirement, it was a home run to secure my future. History would prove her to be so right...
Four years later, I'm in high school. The English teacher makes us pass a conversational exam in front of the class. He would pick one student, make him come to the front (boys-only school) and talk together for a few moments, as much as was faisable. For most boys 15-16, it was not an easy task. For my part, I was struggling with being the only English fluent student of the class. It's nice but it gets boring really fast. At the end, just when everyone was about to leave, he took me aside. He explained to me that I was almost bilingual by now, that it was just a question of time and vocabulary, and that I would be wasting my time in this class at this level. So he offered me, with Grandma's approval of course, to spend that class period in the library instead, studying something else or doing my homework, and in exchange he would extend my current 92% grade on this course for the whole year. After consultation with grandma, it was settled! She was incredibly proud.
I was the art guy at school, painting giant decors for benefits, building crazy expo kiosks with friends out of nothing, creating posters to elect the school president, etc. All the while, my creativity was expanding thanks to this fabulous game show The Price is Right. I built numerous games, making them as big as the cardboard boxes I could find, each time going the extra mile to make it even crazier than the one before. My Punch-A-Bunch was amazingly similar and so much fun! Friends would come over and we would play for hours. My grandma would help me price household items from our pantry to have contestants win punches. To minimize delay between players when resetting the game, I created in advance dozens of replacement punching circles with wax paper taped on cardboard rings. All you had to do is change the punched rings in front and remix the inside slips from the back of a huge flat box standing up straight. And of course, I'm the one who was always doing Bob Barker, complete with a fake slim mic! What an honor!
And so for many years, Grandma and I sat at the kitchen table and watched The Price is Right together, as if it were a date, me translating from time to time to keep her interested and her admiring my perseverance.
Let it be
In short, if you have children, never underestimate the value of their interests, even the most surprising ones. Like my grandmother, try to think outside the box! Thanks to her eternal modern vision, all my life I've been able to tell this fun story about how Bob Barker taught me English and how The Price is Right was key in my creativity. And now, with this online store, I feel it's another sandbox that I play with, still applying the same basic principles I learned as a kid: learn, create, persevere.
A huge thank you to this amazing gentleman and happy 50th season to The Price is Right!
And yes, I still watch it from time to time...