Monday, July 30, 2012

A Story About Uninvited Guests and My Thoughts on the Opening Ceremonies

So, Friday, we're at the park with about 30 or 40 friends, enjoying a beautiful summer day as we sit around and talk and enjoy watching the kids talk, laugh, and play capture the flag, tag, red rover, spy clubs, and sharks and minnows. I'm excited, because I'm enjoying the afternoon with our homeschool group and know that our family is going to enjoy watching the opening ceremonies together for a nice, quiet evening at home.

I'm sitting next to my good friend Amy and I say to her, "So, we usually go all out and make all kinds of themed food to celebrate things like the opening ceremonies of the Olympics, but it's too hot in our kitchen and we feel like keeping it simple, so we're going to go out for some cheap, delicious Mexican (Go Team USA!) and then we're going home to watch the opening ceremonies. Anyway, we're going to that Mexican place across from the community college. If you guys would like to join us for a yummy dinner out, you're very welcome."

She tells me she'll call her husband Tim (who was on his way home from work) and then she'll text me to let me know. Well, we leave the park at the same time and pull up to the same spotlight, so we just exchange info the old-fashioned way, by rolling down our windows and laughing hysterically. They're a go for the restaurant! Hurrah!

After annoying the drivers behind us, we all get to the restaurant downtown and park on a side street. As we're feeding the meters, I ask her, "So, is Tim going to join us for dinner?" And she responds, "No, he's just going straight to your house."

Hmmmmm. Curious. See, my friend Amy is ALWAYS laughing and joking around. Only this time, she didn't laugh after she said this. But still, I assumed she was joking.

Also, the restaurant is between where we both live -- we're about 15 minutes west of the restaurant and they're about 30 minutes east of it. Going to our house would be back tracking, not that that would stop us, but, well, I was just confused.

Thing 1 comes up to me and whispers, "Tim's coming over?" And I said, "I think she's just joking."

I walk up to Mark and say, "She said Tim's going to our house, but I'm sure she's joking." He looks confused and I shrug.

I dismiss the confusion from my mind, remind myself that she's a kidder, and we go in and grab tables. The 6 kids (she has 4 and we have 2) get a table together and Mark, Amy, and I grab one for ourselves. We look at the menu. We order. We talk. We laugh (A LOT). We get our delicious food.

Ten minutes into the meal, Amy looks up, eyes wide, a realization dawning on her, and says, "Oh my god! Did I totally just invite ourselves to your house?!?"

I say, "Well, yeah, but we don't care."

She was horrified and said, "I don't invite myself to people's houses!! It just occurred to me that you invited us to dinner and I just went ahead and invited ourselves over to your house afterward!" and picked up her phone to call Tim, who at this point had driven over 45 minutes past his own house to go to ours, to tell him about her gaffe and to tell him to go home.

We were in hysterics and told her to hang up and that it was fine - we'd love to have them!

We razzed her about it, on and off, for the rest of the meal. When we finished eating and paid our bills, she told the kids to move it outside and get in the van to go to our house.

Thing 2, who had been hinting and asking me all day to have them over (to my explanations of, "not tonight, honey, we're having a quiet evening just us,") excitedly exclaims, "They're coming over?!?"

To which I said, "Yeah. Amy invited herself over."

He looks at her and says, with a huge grin, "Invite yourself over more often!"

So, we get home. Tim is in his car waiting for us. We all get in the house, get mauled by Scout, who is THRILLED to see us all, and settle in to watch the Olympics . . . but not without much, much, much more razzing about their audacious self-invitation to our home.

We had a fantastic time, laughed like crazy, and loved watching the opening ceremonies together. It wasn't what we had planned (well, it wasn't what we -- our family -- had planned; clearly, it was what Amy had planned), but it worked out awesomely. We laughed all night and now have a great, running joke to perpetuate - them, being thrilled to be at our house and us going, "Whaaaaaa?". Oh, and we took pictures to commemorate.

 Amy thinking, "SCORE! I got to hang out at the Foley's!"

We took some group shots as well.
The first two show Amy's family thinking, "Wheeeee! PARTY!" 
 . . . and us thinking, 
"Uhhh, what are they doing here and when are they leaving?"

And then, to humor them when they see this post 
to show that we truly didn't one bit mind them coming over uninvited,
we took these friendly pictures where we're smiling and glad they came:

See? All smiles!

See? I'm smiling. Wait. Wrong picture.

See? Mark's smiling. And even Scout is thinking, "WTH?" looks happy.

Happy hugs!
(And a sneak peek at Thing 1's braces - post on that to come)

And these next two pictures crack me up - 
both the foreground and the background.

They are pictures of Thing 2 and his very good friend Julia deep in conversation.
I'm not sure what they're saying, but I'll caption it the best I can.

 "And next time, you BETTER invite us straight up."

 "Dude, I tried. But my mom said it was a family night 
and then your family crashed our party. 
What was I supposed to do?"

Now, onto my thoughts on the opening ceremonies . . .

Our family, especially Thing 2, loves London, so we're pretty excited about the Olympics being held there this summer. We always enjoy the opening ceremonies and we were excited to see what London would do to introduce themselves to the world as this year's host of the thirtieth Summer Olympics.

Overall, I liked the opening ceremonies. And it should be noted that in general, I'm the kind of person who likes things and who likes to like things. I'm not really a complainer. I don't tend to be a negative Nelly or a Debbie Downer (wah wahhhh). That being said, the more I think about it, there were some things about the opening ceremonies that I did not like. I wanted to like it all. And I liked most of it. But there were parts I didn't love.

Let's start with what I did like -- and there was much more that I liked than didn't like; that's for sure:

I loved how it started with a real-grass set of the fields of England, a beautiful visual representation of the early agricultural times in London. I love that they got Kenneth Branagh to narrate the times as well as the transition to and through the industrial revolution.

Starting with the words of William Shakespeare? Totally fitting and appropriate. William Shakespeare has to be one of the greatest gifts to the world London has ever bestowed.

They had the factory towers rise, the workers emerge, the pollution begin. The industrial revolution. One of the most significant times in history. I loved how they had the molten ore run down the track into the ring-shaped area that allowed the steelworkers to fashion a 5th ring (yes, I, er, some of us might have said, "My precious!" in a creepy voice) that then rose up to meet the other 4 rings in a glorious display of Olympic lights and pyrotechnics.

I love that the Olympic rings are proudly displayed on Tower Bridge.

It's so ingenious that the area that had held the molten ore transformed into a representation of the River Thames as part of a greater map of London when the areas of sod were removed. That is just so cool.

I liked the popping balloons as part of the countdown to the ceremonies.

I appreciate that he wanted to illustrate the evolution from pastoral to industrial to digital. I'll save my comments on that, though, for the section on what I didn't like.

I liked the shout out to their delivery of universal health care, decidedly a hot topic in our nation right now. I love that London proudly displayed (with their very own doctors and nurses taking the stage!) their emphasis on health care for all. I know that many people in other countries look at how our nation approaches health care coverage as very bizarre, so this was a nice, "Here, see what we do? We're proud of this."

The kids jumping on their beds in their jammies? Super cute. My thoughts on their dreams and nightmares? That goes in the next section.

The pixels in the stands, working together with the pixels on the stage to make a magnificent visual display? Awesome.

The Rowan Atkinson bit? Hilarious.

The seven youth lighting the torch? A little anti-climactic, but sweet nonetheless.

The torch itself? Very cool. I like to see how different countries design the different, representative torches.

David Beckham? Yummy.

The 007 sketch with Daniel Craig, the royal corgis, and the queen herself? HILARIOUS. James Bond and the Queen jumping out of a helicopter into the stadium with Union Jack parachutes? Awesome. The look on Craig's face? Priceless. Getting to see a glimpse of her dry, wicked sense of humor? So great.

The shots of Will and Kate? Great. I wish there had been more of them.

JK ROWLING? Um, yeah!! She absolutely, hands down deserved a prominent place on that Olympic opening ceremony's stage. If there is any one living person from the British Isles that has given a greater cultural contribution to the world, I'd like to hear who that is. JK Rowling is one of the British Isles' brightest and best gems.

The Beatles. Next section.

Having over 500 men and women who worked on the stadium lining the way to the entrance and cheering as the torch made its way into the stadium? Very cool.

Sir Paul McCartney capping the ceremony with a phenomenal performance? Perfect! Seeing him get overcome with emotion? Moving.


Section 2 - what I didn't like:

Danny Boyle seems like a fun, odd fellow. And he did a smashing job. Just really smashing. Bloody hell, mate! Okay, now I'm just getting carried away with the cool British talk. Git, shag, loo, flat, mum, bollocks, cheeky, ring, snog, wonky . . . I love their words!


Here's my beef. Where were the Bronte sisters? Where was Jane Austen? Where was Elton John? Where was more of England's scenery -- I mean, we get it -- we saw the tube, but where were the double decker buses, the red phone booths, the moors, the white cliffs of Dover, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey? And where, WHERE, were the Beatles? I know Paul McCartney rounded out the show in a big way, but in the depiction of the history and evolution of England, where, WHERE were the Beatles? There should've been a whole lot more Beatles. A whole lot.

The Beatles have contributed more to the world of music, and specifically rock-and-roll, than any other band. EVER. That's huge! How, how did they not have a much, MUCH more prominent role? Really? I don't get it.

Danny Boyle wanted a thumping event. He definitely created one. For me, "thumping" is a little too similar to Beijing's opening, so I'd think you'd want it to differ more, but it was still pretty exciting and really got everyone pumped, so mission accomplished, right?

Okay, so the segment with the kids in their beds . . . why did they have to have nightmares? Of every, fantastic, well-known Harry Potter character in the series, why, of all of them, did they choose to make a 100-foot tall Voldemort? And then those creepy, what, werewolves? Creepers? What were they? And who, at the brainstorming meeting, said, "I know! Let's have creepy villains come out in either large numbers or as a single, 100-foot tall creepy "tube guy" (a la Phil on Modern Family) and scare the kids in their hospital beds!" And then who, at that meeting, said, "Bloody brilliant! That'll show the world what London is all about!" Where was Harry Potter? Where was Peter Rabbit? Where was the Hobbit? And, I'm not sure if all the Mary Poppins characters were meant to help them feel better or creep them the hell out more. I just didn't get the whole nightmare sequence.

The doves on bicycles . . . reminded me of E.T. even before Bob Costas or Matt Lauer said it.

Even with all this, I can watch and say, "Okay, it's cool. It's British. It's peace and all that." I love the coming together as nations in a friendly, worldwide party of peace and sport and fanfare. This is how the world should be anyway!

But the part I got the LEAST was the whole "Frankie and June" thing. Who are they? I mean, if it's some local London show, then fine; a friendly shout out to your peeps with something they like is nice and all. But to dedicate a very LONG segment of the opening ceremonies to what I can only call an odd, random mismatch of film and music while we watch Frankie search for June, find her phone, and inexplicably call her (how??) to tell her, "I found your phone." Exactly what phone was he calling?? Were they hoping we just wouldn't notice? Did they think all the pixels and thumping would distract us enough for them not to close up that story loop?

I'm not sure how that whole segment represents London, so I'm not convinced the message got across. Of all the possible things they could show the world, why, why were we watching these two people who no one knows, look for each other through throngs of dancers dancing to multiple strings of 10-second music bytes - just long enough to get us to recognize the song, want to sing along, open our mouths to do so, only to have them switch to another 10-second byte (lather, rinse, repeat) - and presumably care whether or not they got together? I was more concerned about her getting her phone, or her other phone rather, since clearly she must've been carrying a spare.

I don't know. Maybe I'm just grumpy. I know they were paying tribute to the guy who invented the world wide web (though I thought Al Gore did that?). Kudos, Sir Tim Berners-Lee. But again, how does his invention of the world-wide web have anything to do with Frankie and June and her phone?

I'll wrap it up by saying I love the Olympics and I enjoy the opening ceremonies. I thought they were really great, except for the whole Frankie and June part. I love London, I love the Olympics, particularly the stories, and am excited to watch a bunch of events.

In conclusion, I leave you with this picture of the Queen, from the opening ceremonies and the parade of nations:

Happy XXX Summer Olympics! (Yeah, an unfortunate Roman Numeration - when we saw it listed on our Tivo, Amy and I both did a little double take. Some of the kids said, "What does X-X-X mean?" "THIRTY," we quickly responded). Happy THIRTIETH Summer Games in London. And remember, June found her phone.

And if you should have uninvited guests arrive at your doorstep, may they be as fun and wonderful as ours!


Dr. Mark said...

This. Post. Is. AWESOME! I love the captions on all the pictures. I love how you tell the story with no embellishment whatsoever. But like you said, if someone is going to crash our party, what awesome friends to do it.

And your comments on the Opening Ceremonies were really spot on as far as I'm concerned. I can see what they were trying to do, but I feel like they missed a golden opportunity. Frankie and June was a big waste of time. Talking with you about all that they could have done it became readily apparent that England has given the world A LOT, so I know it's tough to highlight it all. But Frankie and June? C'mon!

Jimmy said...

Love that friends crashed your party. I grew up with aunts, uncles, coursinds and grandparents all within walking distance so we all walked to each other's houses all the time. Wasn't until I got older that I realized it's not cool to just crash in on someone.

Hate that I missed the opening ceremonies entirely, but we were at Knott's Berry Farm that night so I wanted to get my money's worth.

Yes! The Beatles.

Jimmy said...

Love that friends crashed your party. I grew up with aunts, uncles, coursinds and grandparents all within walking distance so we all walked to each other's houses all the time. Wasn't until I got older that I realized it's not cool to just crash in on someone.

Hate that I missed the opening ceremonies entirely, but we were at Knott's Berry Farm that night so I wanted to get my money's worth.

Yes! The Beatles.

Jagged Rocks said...

That sounds like it would have been fun! Too bad we don't live close enough to have helped crash your party!

Emily Foley said...

I didn't watch the opening ceremonies (I rarely do) so I don't really have anything to say. Heh.

Boquinha said...

Thanks, all. We LOVE having friends over. We currently have over 20 people in our house and this is the 5th time this week that it's been like this. I LOVE it.