When it comes to my dear wife’s obsessions, I find myself often indulging. The first year we were married, we had to make a special trip to LA. You see, since she was a child, she was obsessed with the Price is Right. The news that Bob Barker was retiring shook through our home like a semi truck had ran through the living room. There was no time to fuck around, tickets were reserved and flights promptly booked.
We arrived a day before the taping to go shopping and meet up with friends. While we were in a boutique, she told the clerk about her big plans to “come on down.” Beth lamented to the girl that we had to be there at the obscene hour of 8 am.
“Oh god no,” the girl responded.
“You better go get in line right now.”
It was two o’clock in the afternoon.
She gave us the skinny. Bob’s looming retirement had spun up a whirlwind of fan frenzy. We were only two of thousands who where descending on L.A. for the chance to spin the wheel before the big man split. Beth began to seriously contemplate the thought of standing on the sidewalk for the next 18 hours. I killed that idea fast.
“Just get up extra early” I said “that woman MUST be exaggerating.”
So that night we went out, but hit the sheets at a modest 1:00 am. After all, we had to get up extra early.
The alarm went off at 3:30 in the morning. Beth is already dressed… We got to the CBS studios at 4 am to discover there was what appeared to be a bustling refugee camp set up along Fairfax and Beverly, complete with tents, card tables, lawn furniture and sleeping bags. Vendors had materialized to service and exploit the Bob Barker refugees. We rented two lawn chairs and began our wait.
Beth was terrified that we weren’t going to make it in. Within minutes of us sitting down, a portly little walleyed Asian man waddled up to us. He had a clicker and a clipboard in his hand.
“How many people are in your party?”
He clicked the clicker twice and scribbled something down on the clipboard.
“At 4:30 on Sunday there were 480 people here, but it was a double taping” he said in a robotic but authoritative voice.
“At 4:30 on Monday there were 338 people here. This morning you are the end of the line and you are number 246. Congratulations, You will make it in the audience.”
“I can’t believe they stuck you with this job” I said.
“It sucks they made you come out here to count all these loonies at this ungodly hour,” I laughed.
“Oh no, I don’t work here. I’m Number 1.”
“You’re Number 246. I’m Number 1. I’ve been here since 5 o’clock last night.”
At that point, a group of people filed in behind us and he turned away, asking them how many people were in their party.
“At 4:30 on Sunday there were 480 people here, but it was a double taping…”