I got to go to the set of the The Big Show of Carl’s Fame last night. I totally wasn’t going to because of traffic and missing dance class and because it was a school night and all. I had the following annoying codependents-in-love type conversation with Carl:
Me Okay, but if you want me to come, I’ll come.
Carl Well, if you want to, I’d love to have you.
Me Okay, but do you want me to come?
Carl I want you to go if you want to come. Do you want to come?
Me Do you want me to come? I will if you want me to.
Carl Only if you want to.
So I decided not to go at about eleven yesterday. I went to lunch, looked at the computer screen, hypnotized someone. La la la. At four thirty my phone rings.
Carl You totally have to come.
Me I’m there.
Carl proceeded to give me very detailed directions on how to get there. I proceeded to write them down carefully and then leave them on my desk as I shot on out the door in the direction of the bus stop. I then had to join the hated ranks of Bus Talkers. Worse, Bus Cell Phone Talkers. Why? Because I had to get the directions again. Ugh. Yeah, did I tell you I got a cell phone? In 2003? It’s new-fangled and everything. I can’t believe I called my boyfriend on the cell phone on the bus. Not like it’s an excuse, but I have to mention here that I did it with every possible sense of shame and also that I was by no means the only person doing such a thing on the 48 last night. Also, my phone conversation was along the lines of a whispered “IcantbelieveIforgotthedirectionsonmydeskpleasedonthatemeandgivethemtomeagainthanksyourethebestbye!” and not along the lines of “HEY! BABY? THAT YOU? HONEY? OKAY, I’M ON THE BUS NOW! UH HUH! WELL, IS IT ANY REDDER? DOES IT ITCH STILL? DID YOU PUT THE CREAM ON IT LIKE THE DOCTOR SAID?” unlike the young lass sitting to my left. I’m not making an excuse, I’m just explaining.So I tooled down to a warehouse in Tukwila and found Carl, who happened to be wearing his “team jumpsuit” and was immediately introduced to Serena The Producer. “Can she be here?” asked Carl with a winsome smile. “Nope,” said Serena, “but she can go with the other team’s wives in the trailer over there.” This warehouse was so huge that it had all sorts of cars and trailers parked all over the place. One of them, apparently, contained the wives of the other team. Uh huh. “Bye sweetie!” said Carl, striding away in his jumpsuit. Serena strong-armed me over to the trailer. “They’re drinking wine in there,” she said. Oh.
And drinking wine they were! The other team’s wives were all, like the other team members themselves, in their mid-fifties and had known each other a long time because all their husbands do all sorts of crazy things together. In fact their husbands had their own trading cards for various alternative energy vehicles they’d made and everything. These guys were hard core, is what I’m saying. Their wives were just like you’d expect the wives of hard-core geeks to be: kind of jokey and funny, with some rolled eyes and little smiles when they talked about what their husbands like to do on the weekends in terms of building things and taking things apart and playing with Legos and so on and so forth. They had pizza and pistachios and also a handler from the show about my age named Eliza. I talked with her quite a bit, after I explained that I wasn’t a wife but only a girlfriend and that yes, I was very excited to be here. They were all very friendly and happy about the whole thing. I felt a little out of it because I was, after all, from the other team.
They kept trying to sneak out of the trailer somehow under Eliza’s eagle eye. They weren’t from Seattle and so had been hanging around for the three days of the shoot and were, understandably, anxious to actually see what was going on. Eliza wasn’t having any of that. We sat and sat and I ate and ate and then, for some reason, we got to trek over to the set and watch the last five minutes of the filming. I can’t tell you what we actually saw but it was very exciting and then it was all over, except that it wasn’t over, because then they had to do all these extra shots of the teams and then they had to film the show’s host about eighty-six times saying various things along the “We’ll be back next week for the next challenge!” line. Then the two teams finally got to meet each other and see their respective wives (and girlfriend!), and we got to look at the various things on the set that I can’t mention, and then we stood around talking to the director and some of the crew. When Carl and Craig and Frank were off doing some more shots, some of the crew came up to me and asked how I knew the team (“I don’t, I just sneaked in somehow and started kissing the tall guy in the green shirt, why do you ask?”) and told me all the funny things they’d done, and talked about how tired they all were. I’ve never been around anything TV oriented at all so it was all new to me…what really stuck, of course, was just how many people were involved. In my mind, TV is just a big box filled with tiny people going on about their lives and if you want to, you can light it up and watch them. It has never really occurred to me that there are all these people who are cold and tired working the cameras and making sure the actors have their jumpsuits and that the set doesn’t fall down and that the wives (and girlfriend!) behave themselves in the trailers. And although everyone was tired, at least we eventually got to go home and didn’t have to clean up at all, while they were just getting started. Anyway, they were all very funny and nice and it was interesting to hear their perceptions of people I’ve known for a long time. I’m pretty sure they hadn’t ever met anyone like Craig before. Few of us have.
The two teams shook hands and exchanged business cards and the wives invited us all to stay with them in Corvallis, I think, whenever we we’re in the neighborhood. Frank drove back to Bellingham, and Carl and Craig and I went home. So ends the brush with fame for the time being. It’s still not certain when it’s going to air, but rest assured that I will be having a party when it does. You all are invited with a special Ampersand discount, okay?
In the outside world, there was a State of the Union Address and gathering storm clouds and an exciting package I got in the mail and a clean apartment and friends and family and all that. It all paled though, for a couple of hours at least, in the light of the excitement of getting to see Carl and Craig and Frank let their geek flags fly.