Wednesday started out as a trying yet good day, made up of 7 hours of 4th graders followed immediately by 3 hours of 3, 4, and 5 year olds. Overall, it was a pretty good work day when 6:00 finally rolled around and I breathed a big sigh relief on the way home.
The only thing putting a damper on my evening was that Gearry would be spending the evening attending the Extreme party fundraiser at Grayson Stadium while I hung out by myself at home. I was originally supposed to go with him, but he found out at the last minute that I could not attend on his college's sponsorship ticket because of how it was funded. Which I was disappointed by, since his chef had asked me to go in his place, but I totally understood. Makes sense.
Gearry was just heading out the door when I got home from work. I told him to have fun and settled down in front of the television with a sandwich and a bowl of soup. No more than I had slurped the last slurp and taken the last bite, the phone rang. To my surprise, it was Gearry, who had just arrived at the extravaganza a few minutes before to find that a couple of people who were supposed to attend could not and had called me upon the suggestion of the president of his college to see if I would like to come. Of course, being ever-so-cautious, I asked him, "Couldn't you get in trouble?" To which he replied, "Umm, Stace, the president told me to call and ask you. I don't think I'm going to get in trouble."
Cue the quickest shower-dress-makeup-hair job of my life and zooming to the stadium in my little yellow car, arriving just in time for everything to get started. What followed was one of the best nights of my life. So. Much. Fun. The group from Gearry's college were absolutely hilarious. I haven't laughed that long and that hard in a really long time, if ever. It was wonderful getting to know his president and other members of the faculty and staff. We spent the night eating and drinking and mingling, and it was wonderful to feel so much like a member of the Savannah community -- I'm even starting to recognize people that I have seen at other events or around town. As there was lots of filming going on for Extreme Makeover, we also spent a lot of time filming.
It was a very neat, up-close perspective on "reality TV." For those of you who really know me, you know how much I love my reality television! But I always take it with a grain of salt in assuming that parts of it are probably real, parts of it pseudo-real, and many parts of it completely constructed for the camera. Filming for Extreme Makeover is much the same way. The event we were at was real -- all of the people there had paid $100 or more a ticket to be there to support the endeavor -- but very little of the filming was spontaneous. To get what they needed for telivision, scenes had to be set up, of course. For instance, while Paul filmed one of his hand-held camera message-to-the-family-on-vacation scenes, we all crowded around him and cheered on command. Over. And over. And over. With breaks for him to check the script. And to adjust cameras. We also took part in filming a scene just outside the stadium, where Paula Deen, her husband, her two sons, and her brother talked with one of the Extreme designers and told everyone of a very large food donation to Savannah food pantrys, capped off by Paula tossing a ham football-style to the designer.
Together with the president, Gearry talked to Paula for a moment -- basic introductions -- and later to her son Jamie for a little bit.
Perhaps the most entertaining part of the evening was after filming this scene. Our little group stood around and talked and laughed for so long that it was just us and the crew standing in the stadium parking lot, as the crew dismantled lights and cords and cameras and such around us. Paula's husband came out and told us goodnight and got into his Jeep next to us to leave. We were just wondering where Paula was -- and joking that she was probably in a chauffered car while he drove himself -- when an SUV drove by, the back window rolled down just enough to reveal a poofy head of white hair. We waved and received back a festive, "Goodnight, ya'll!" as the SUV rolled away.