Back in May, just one short day after Eric and the kids got home from their trip to Pennsylvania, Eric and I headed to LA for the taping of the Survivor Finale and Reunion show. I noticed something as the one night trip to LA came up with people, when I mentioned Survivor they either "got it" or sort of went "meh" (telling me they clearly didn't "get it"-it's SURVIVOR!).
I have been a Survivor fan for half of my life. The relationship pre-dates my marriage. You might even remember that the first time Eric asked me out I declined because it was Survivor night (and I didn't have DVR back then). You probably don't know (unless you're my mom, and I bet even she forgot) that my senior prom date gave me a Survivor buff in lieu of a corsage. I am a fan. Surprisingly, I've only blogged about Survivor twice before (and barely here). Like I said, I am a fan, but I had nothing on some of the other people in the audience with us (one lady had sent in 15 audition tapes!). It was great to be among my people.
I guess I should go back to the beginning for a minute. Some random time in March (but not my birthday) Eric said, "Hey do you want to go to the Survivor finale?" Completely casual. No big deal. Later, we decided this was definitely of the birthday/10th anniversary (which is fast approaching) surprise caliber. So, we can attribute it to either of those things.
Turns out, Eric has a contact at CBS, and he asked him for tickets. Dude said, "sure, no problem." Completely casual. No big deal.
Obviously I said, yes, but I was always afraid it wasn't really going to happen. In truth, I didn't think it was actually going to happen until it was happening. I was sure something was going to fall through. When this email arrived, I started to believe just a little bit more:
And when our name was on the list at CBS studios, that was encouraging. All we had to do was show them Eric's ID and they knew who we were and what we were there for, crazy!
Once we got our wrist bands and seat assignments I was finally thinking this was happening and I hadn't just gone on a random trip to California. Turns out Eric's guy was a solid contact. Row 2! Sidenote: the people next to us paid $340 for their seats.
It also didn't hurt when our names were on the chairs. Well, Eric's name.
We made it! And so did our camera. If you read the letter up there you might have noticed that cameras weren't permitted. Being a rule follower, I obeyed and we left our cellphones in the car. Rule follower fail. As soon as we got to the waiting area there were people all over with their phones out. Eric went back to the car and got ours. Rule breaker win. The staff person we asked about it said that since it was an "invited" audience, the rules were more relaxed. We did notice they didn't let any of the seat fillers have their phones. We ended up taking and texting a bunch of pictures for strangers too. Technology is great, when you have it.
The set was absolutely amazing. Completely elaborate and cool. The entire room was "set" since a camera might pick up any angle.
In case you're of the "meh" contingency, let me explain what we actually saw: we watched the finale episode air on east coast time. It was two hours, and we were pretty free during that time. They had snacks and drinks for us and people were up and moving around. A few times, Jeff Probst came out and recorded a live tease for the reunion hour. During these two hours the families of the Survivors were sitting with us, and they didn't know any more about what they were about to see than we did. It was really cool to be in the room with them as their loved one (Mike) triumphed and a bit awkward when they failed (Sierra/Rodney). The energy in the room was like a live sporting event. People were jazzed. The floor director said he'd never had such an excited audience, but he probably says that every time. I guess I'll have to go again to compare. Once we reached the final 15 minutes of the episode, we were no longer allowed to move around. At this point, the Survivor finalists and jury came out onto the stage and watched the final tribal council with us. Then, we went live. It was exciting to be in the room as Mike won-the audience was really rooting for him. The floor director might have cautioned us that we had to cheer and be happy no matter who won, but luckily it went our way. What you saw on television is pretty much what we saw. I always assumed Jeff sat around and asked more questions/talked during commercials, but he mostly disappeared off stage to prepare for the next segment.
During the last 10 minutes of the Finale hour Jeff came out into the main aisle of the audience to announce the cast for next season. His path crossed directly in front of us and we (9.5 million people) all learned I spaz under pressure.
Truthfully, the thought in my head was, "Oh my gosh, the kids will be able to see this! Hi, kids!" There you have it. Motherhood has taken over every aspect of my existence.
The other split-second of our fame was spent in Jeff's armpit ;)
The show was amazing and awesome and I feel like the best way I can explain is that it was like what going to the Super Bowl would be like for a sports fan.
Going back to our hotel, ordering room service, and watching the show air on the west coast was pretty darn fun too.
As Eric and I near our 10th anniversary this year, I find it pretty fitting that we went to see the show that almost undid us at the very beginning. We've enjoyed the show a lot over the years, and the kids even watch it with us now. Maybe when Survivor: families with small children rolls around we'll be ready ;)