I took my friend Amy to the TARcon with me, both because Amy is fun to have handy at a moment like this and because I would have been far too freaked out to go by myself, lest I walk into the wrong room and wind up at a bachelor party watching a stripper. As Amy and I walked in and made our way up the stairs, I said to her, "It doesn't sound like it's that loud. I think that's a good sign -- maybe there aren't that many people there." You have to understand that I was equal parts jazzed and uneasy at this point, because there really isn't a clause in the MBTV Recapper's Style Guide that covers this sort of thing. We opened the door to the upstairs bar, and were immediately met. "Are you here for The Amazing Race?" said the woman at the door. "Uh, yes," I told her, not precisely sure what to say. "I'm missdona, I'm your hostess," she said, smiling. I leaned over to her so she could hear me over what was, it turned out, a crowd that was noisy in the extreme. "I'm Miss Alli, I'm your recapper." She said something that was just right -- something like, "Get out." You know, not "get out of the bar, bitch," but "hey, no kidding." She handed me a goodie bag, which was full of party favors like a little Frank and Margarita Harlequin Romance mock-up and a selection of little booze bottles, which I'm now surprised I didn't get to sooner. She introduced me to Poptart, and then Amy and I worked our way down to the other end of the bar, where the big TV was. This was perhaps fifteen minutes before the start of the finale.
And then? The first of several extremely surreal moments during the evening -- my first encounter with a little clump of posters. This was when I met the lovely raygirl, as well as djeber, and it was also when I first felt myself pushing my back into the wall as if it might be possible to disappear. "This," my brain muttered, "is weird."
I didn't really see the finale when it was actually on. I noticed a few things -- those hideous white shoes, Esquire throwing something on the ground (turned out to be the flashlight batteries), the dogsleds, Rob doing something with a cell phone which people were muttering might be a rules violation -- but I couldn't hear a thing for the most part, so I couldn't tell what was going on. For what it's worth, I also absolutely believed I knew who was going to win (more on that in a minute), so I really wasn't feeling a lot of suspense. Anyway, while the show was actually running, I mostly talked to the folks at the party and accepted a beer or two. I did make some noise when the ugly red hat came along, but that's about it. It wasn't until the last taxi sequence that I glued myself to a TV and started paying attention.
As we cruised into the last segment, the shot came up of Esquire on the train, and then of Frank and Margarita back in the station. A collective gasp went up in the bar, including a bit of noise from me. A few minutes later, there was that nutty Esquire, up on the podium with Phil. I can honestly tell you I was entirely shocked. Like, drop-dead, knocked-out shocked. Sars can confirm that she and I had talked, about three hours before the finale started, about how sure we were that it would be Frank and Margarita, because we just didn't see the Guidos catching up, and it obviously wasn't going to be Esquire. How had we been so sure? Because we've watched television before. The tale of Frank and Margarita was so compelling. Their story arc was so obvious. It was a movie. Obviously, it wouldn't be the attorneys. Furthermore, I think I secretly believed that somehow, if Rob had won, I would have been able to tell. Wouldn't I? Apparently not. Lawyers really are sneaky.