Saturday night, the pepsi elves had struck again and we found gold foil wrapped "play for a billion" chocolates on our pillows... Yum.
By this time, I was in a weird place mentally. For the most part I was just amazed that I had gotten this far. 14 MILLION entries and only 200 people got to come to Los Angeles. I mean - I'd been playing these bottle cap games for years. I was trying to figure out how I'd feel if I didn't win, if I didn't make the final 7 - just how disappointed would I be? I didn't know. Just felt anxious?
Decided to just bag it all and soaked in tub full of warm water and half a bottle of Emerald Heart bath salts. (Thanks Foxy ! ). Felt much better and was actually able to sleep.
Sunday morning, yet another early start. At least the alarm was playing Beatles instead of static. Because of the tight time schedule, we had to be ready to leave immediately after the 9am meeting. I thought it was a bit chancy - eating breakfast in your party clothes? I could just see a pots of coffee aiming for light colored blouses, ketchup on something green or milk on black.
Met with Mother Duck Maggie and she gave us the instructions for the day. She knew we were all probably nervous, but please eat something protein at least, as it would be a long day. Try to find a balance between staying hydrated but not so hydrated that you'd have to hit the bathroom during the taping. During the taping you had to do the 3rd grade thing of raising your hand and an usher would come escort you to and from the bathroom during a "break in the action". Do not wait until the last minute. No fluids nor food were to be brought into the studio as there were lots of wires and equipment all over the place.
Sat with Mary & Bob, Natalie & Faye and couple from Northern Vermont during breakfast. We chatted about what we'd do if we won and showed off our good luck charms - a pic of Alani & Kyle, Faye had a picture of Natalie's daughter. Somebody had his father's world war II medal - something he'd had since he was a boy.
We were told that we all needed to be ready to go at 10am, so cameras, cell phones, etc needed to be dropped off at the room. Last minute bathroom runs and advil downing. So, it's 10am and we're all waiting in the lobby. Our group, it had to be our group, was missing two people. Poor Maggie. They called the room, no answer. They paged through the hotel. We yelled for them. We came so close to leaving them behind. Somebody finally went up to the room and banged on the door. They had been there. Two women. One, the bleached blond lady with dark roots, started cheering/chanting and wondering why we weren't all psyched too - probably because we had been doing that for the past 25 minutes while we waited for them to show up. Does the word "DEADLINE" mean anything to them? Everything had to be taped and editted for broadcast at 5pm our time.
Got to the studio and we walked down the blue pepsi carpet, being cheered by pepsi staffers, getting pictures taken, and some people got interviewed. Much fun!
The studio had at one time been the home of I Love Lucy, and recently been used for Ally McBeal. The seating was set up in the shape of a horseshoe with the stage in the center and the raised pepsi logo in front of it. K & I were sitting on the left side of the logo in the 3rd row.
The producer came out and explained what was going to happen. We got to practice cheering and applauding *grin*. Tom Bergeron, host of America's Most Funniest Videos (hey what happened to Bob Saget???), and Damon Wayans were introduced.
I'd never sat through a taping before so it was all brand new and fascinating. While the crew was setting things up, there was a comic named Gilbert who kept the audience entertained. Lots of jokes, lots of patter. He gave away t-shirts, caps and other cheesy tourist stuff. He went through the audience trying to find the oddest job - the lady who made toilets won. I managed to win a tacky Hollywood keychain - I had a disney character on my bracelet. Go Pooh! Go Eeyore! What the heck I'm going to do with the keychain, I have no idea.
He also tried to play matchmaker for young lady - trying to find her a husband. At this point the first three people had been announced - Kevan with multiple piercings being one - so Gilbert said something to Kevan about being her husband and Kevan retorted that he'd rather have Gilbert. Totally floored Gilbert - he just lost it and so did the audience. Hey, even I knew that Kevan didn't swing that way. *grin*
Alice had been chosen. Yay! The lady from Sacramento had been chosen. Mechanic guy had been chosen.
Last person was about to be announced. I was actually pretty calm. Glanced over at Patricia and she had a claw grip on her husband's knee. Oy. Contestant number 7. It wasn't me. Disappointed? Yes. Feeling awful? No. I realized that I was just happy to be part of it. It was still exciting and the rest of us were yelling and cheering for people we knew.
Long breaks between actual taping. Last lady picked was eliminated, then Alice. In one of those breaks, Gilbert talked to a guy from West Virigina. Music guy puts on Country Roads. Whole audience was singing along. *grin* Music guy seemed to be stuck in the 70's disco age. "Play That Funky Music" - hadn't heard that in years and all I can think of is listening to my Dad sing it, "Brick House", "I Will Survive" and so on.
Sacramento lady, Kevan and Marlo eliminated. And then there were two. And finally the winner, Jon. I wonder how it must have felt for the 6 finalists - they had their chances at actually winning $20K or more and they all let it pass. The last guy, Dennis, could have taken 100K and missed his chance at a million. None of the 7 finalists got anything except Jon. Oy. At this point, things were getting pretty surreal. We cheered for the billion, but that didn't happen. I think the energy level dropped immediately. It was over. It was now 4:15pm.
Back outside - air was lovely, sun was very bright. Grabbed bottles of water and dp. Very unreal. Pepsi people still out there making sure people got hydrated, still cheering. *grin* Bus trip to Santa Monica's Gotham Hall where the "wrap party" was to be held. Of course, there was a huge spread of munchies and we watched the East Coast feed of the program and cheered all over again. Dinner was served after the show - fairly simple buffet of salads, grilled veggies and several types of meats.
Karen & I wandered around the promenade again and then caught the shuttle back to the hotel. Packed and then hit the hotel gift shop for some ice cream - we'd skipped the dessert at dinner. The Pepsi elves had struck a final time and had left a silver star paper weight engraved with "Pepsi Play for a Billion" and my name. Wow...
Monday morning, we went down around 8am. Went looking for dp and found out that every single can had been drunk. Go us! Lady I asked was sort of amazed. Had all the other flavors, but no plain dp. Good thing I still had several cans up in the room. K & I were meeting cousin from hell for brunch, so we were just down there to say good bye and take some pictures.
Sayoko arrived and off we went.
Had lunch at a deli close to the airport. Flight was quick and uneventful - and we were home by 4:15pm.
Thus ends my pepsi adventure.