These are the events as I remember them. Others may have a different recollection.
We walked up to the gates, dropped our bags, and smiled politely. When we told the guards who we were, they eyed us with suspicion and a hint of jealousy. They checked their clipboard, radioed ahead, and gave us a nod. We picked up our bags and passed quickly through the gates in case they changed their minds.
It was Thursday July 30th, mid afternoon. The sun mirrored our spirits – it was high and bright and we were in a party mood. We could not believe our luck, getting chosen to sleep in the PNE Prize Home with Clay and Karen! It was the chance of a lifetime. I mean, how many people have ever gotten to actually SLEEP in the Prize Home?! I was so glad my husband had entered the contest and sweet-talked his way into this! His entry had some mention of Magical Mojitos and impressive dance moves. I was hoping the latter would not be put to the test – I doubted a 5 minute tribute to breakdancing featuring The Sprinkler would impress anybody!
When we got to the home, the door was open (thanks for letting the bugs in!) and Clay and Karen were already there. They were doing what I imagine they always do – sitting at the table and working on their computers. I suppose they had work to do to set up for the next day’s broadcast and whatnot. Or they were Facebooking and messaging their families, which is what I wanted to do within the hour! They got up as soon as we walked in, and greeted us with boisterous and friendly hellos. We immediately felt welcome. Clay was a full head shorter than I had expected – he looks so tall next to Karen in those pictures, but I discovered that’s because Karen’s about the size of my 10 year old.
After brief introductions and niceties, we asked if we could get settled in and put away our stuff. Clay pointed up the stairs and told us ours was the room on the left with the double bed, our friends were in the room across the hall with the queen. We learned later that Karen had all but bowled Clay over in her rush to get upstairs to claim the bigger bedroom, she really wanted that ensuite! Clay would take the office on the main floor, since he would be the first to get up and get things ready in the morning. I suspected that he also wanted that main floor bathroom all to himself…
With our bags out of sight and our electronics charging, we headed back downstairs with the Mojito mix and a grin. Let’s get this party started!! Clay had brought a case of Parallel 49 beer, and I would’ve loved one (or four!) but I opted for the less-gas-inducing Mojito option, not knowing how thick the walls were and how sound would travel. Karen held up her wine glass, indicating she would hold off on the Mojito until her glass was empty. The conversation flowed with the alcohol, the clinks of glassware on the marble counter our only music. We oohed and aahed over all of the features of the home, dreaming of living in a place so nice. We covetted the decorations, furnishings, layout, space. It was the perfect home!
After an hour or so, I suddenly noticed there was no Purvey. Where was he? When I posed the question, the room went quiet. There was an uncomfortable pause, and a darting glance between the two hosts that I might’ve missed were my eyebrows not raised while staring from one to the other, before Karen laughed and said “his mother wouldn’t let him come!” We all guffawed and the joke carried on throughout the evening, and the truth never was revealed. We Elsa’d it (let it go).
It was nearing 6pm when we all agreed we needed to eat. We grabbed our phones and headed off to the White Spot in Playland. Sure, they could’ve catered it, but it was better to eat out. It gave us a chance to walk off the alcohol a bit, and it was a beautiful evening for a stroll. The walk back would prove to be even more needed – we ate far too many fries!
At dinner we all sat at one of the long tables, Karen at one end and Clay at the other. These two talk to each every morning, I’m sure it was a break for them to chit chat with new people. It must be so dull to see the same people every day – it’s not like a retail job or any other job working with the public, where you see different people all day long. And even though the Waking Crew work with MORE of the public than any of us, they don’t actually get to TALK to the public very often. Was this a treat? I wasn’t so sure. But I was having a good time, so I just assumed everybody else was too.
Shortly after we got back to the house, One More Girl showed up. They were also staying at the house, and got the whole basement suite to themselves. This house was huge, and the basement suite was incredible! Stainless steel appliances, heated floors, etc. I wished we had gotten the basement!!! A private washroom is so nice when you have to pee in the middle of the night and sleep naked…
On with the party! Mojitos, beer, wine, and someone had even brought some cider. I don’t normally go for that sweet stuff but I had half a glass and it wasn’t half bad! Pear, as I reacall, which is my favourite flavour for anything sweet and liquidy. One More Girl played and sang off and on for two hours, with Clay strumming on his guitar between songs. At one point we all got into a rousing rendition of American Pie, which caused someone (I’m not saying who, but she’s short and spunky and she hosts a radio show) to knock over her wine glass. Luckily the glass didn’t break, but the red wine spilled onto the cream-coloured rug that cushioned the coffee table. So we moved the table over the stain and pretended nothing happened.
When the cuckoo clock squawked ten times (literally! There’s a cuckoo clock in the living room!), Clay put down his guitar and excused himself. And that was the last we saw of him! He just up and left. Went to bed and didn’t say a word to anyone! We didn’t even notice until he’d already been gone 20 minutes. We looked to Karen, who had been slowing sinking deeper and deeper into the couch and was now in danger of slipping right off it and spilling more wine. She just shrugged and said “he does this all the time!” and with that, she slid off the couch as her eyes rolled back in her head. To her credit, she kept her arm up and the glass upright, which I caught on her way down and finished drinking after we carried her to bed. She opened one eye as we plopped her on her bed and slurred “thanks for the ride”. We threw the covers on her and left the light on in the ensuite as we exited. I stood at the door and whispered “sweet dreams” as I turned out the light. Yes, it was just as creepy as it sounds.
The rest of us took our cue from our hosts and called it a night. 5:30am comes far too soon! Though it’s sometimes hard to sleep in a strange bed – a double bed at that! – we had a good sleep and were up with our first alarm at 5:10. I wanted to make sure we got into the bathroom first – we had vacationed with our friends before, so I knew better than to let them get in there first. Our hallway bathroom must’ve shared a wall with Karen’s ensuite because I could hear some unearthly noises coming from the other side of the wall. Gosh, I hope she’s feeling okay, I thought. I was not expecting what I saw when we got downstairs!
I don’t know if the stylists had come in at 3am or what, but Clay and Karen both looked stunning! Coiffed and primped, happy and awake, perky as all get-out! I guess they’re used to getting up this early, but sheesh! I was impressed. My own eyes were bleary, my hair messy and pulled in a knot, hubby even had some dried drool left at the corner of his mouth – we looked like neanderthals compared to these two. The coffee was on, and the tech crew was busy checking mikes and connections. One More Girl wasn’t there yet, but they weren’t due to show up for another hour or so – the lucky bums got to sleep in.
We grabbed some coffees, sat at the counter, and ate mini donuts (yes, THOSE donuts!!) while we enjoyed the Waking Crew’s show. It’s almost funnier to watch it live because you actually get to SEE the eyerolls and gestures that you imagine they are doing in the studio. We even got to say a few words – including the Secret Word! How exhilerating to be ON AIR with these two professionals! They have the coolest jobs…
And still, there was no sign of Purvey… (*insert suspenseful TUN TUN TAAA music here*)