The options were limited when illness forced me to stay home from school—as they are for most people—I think. Lie on the couch. Eat chicken noodle soup. Stare off into the void as a splitting headache took revenge on my temples.
The boredom set in early. There’s only so much white wall someone can look at. But not every blank canvas is meant to taunt. Not when that canvas belongs to a man with an impressive perm offering up life-affirming monologues in stress-reducing whispered tones. Let’s be real, Bob Ross was the original ASMRtist and we all know it; he puts all those YouTubers of today to shame. Somehow through swishes of a paint brush and swooshes of his voice, my headache would subside. And I would emerge from the pulsating pressure to find that I had been transported to some remote location near a cabin, set against a backdrop of picturesque mountains and stilled waters.
This is about the time that the Tylenol would kick in. This is that moment when I would start to remember what it felt like to be human again. And guess what? It was ten o’clock which only meant one thing: it was time for energetic Bob. The one, the only, Bob Barker. It was The Price Is Right time. There’s no way I could feel ill while watching the zigzagging fall of the Plinko disc through the pegs and down the board. It’s not possible to feel sick watching someone thrust their fist through a series of holes during a game of Punch-A-Bunch or watching a contestant bite their nails while the cliff hanger makes their way up the mountain slope, yodeling all the way. Of course it’s not possible to feel bad under the distraction—hypnotism?—of the spinning Big Wheel. High energy, high stakes, perfect medicine.
Bob and Bob could always get me through anything. It occurs to me now that I’ve been doing quarantine all wrong. Maybe it’s time to watch another rerun…
Elizabeth Bates is a longtime Bob fan: Ross and Barker. She is grateful to Shawn for hosting Bob Ross Day at The Daily Drunk mag.