Putting on the ritz
Thompsons have their own Cinderella story at 2012 Nobel Prize Award Ceremony
Sometimes you get to live a real life fairytale.
That is what happened to David and Ann Thompson when they attended the 2012 Nobel Prize Award Ceremony in Sweden. If they sometimes wonder if they were dreaming, they can just refer to the Nobel Prize program in which they were listed.
It was cool having our names in the book, Ann Thompson said.
The Nobel Prize Award Ceremony is probably the most august ceremony in the world, aside from weddings for a member of the English royalty. The latter event promotes romance, but the Nobels reward outstanding accomplishments in many fields literature, mathematics, chemistry, economics, medicine and peace. Only the very elite need to show up.
Ann Thompson said, When I told my friends we were going to the Nobel Prize ceremony, one of my friends said, Thats great. What did your husband win?
If there were a Nobel category for selling Volvos, David Thompson would certainly qualify, since he owns 21 Volvo dealerships on the West Coast. However, his spot on the Volvo Corporate Advisory Board was the reason why he and his wife received the invitation for a trip of a lifetime to Stockholm, on Dec. 10. Getting an invitation was a prize in itself, because only a handful of Americans were invited to the event.
I knew it was a great opportunity, David Thompson said, but I wasnt sure what it was all about.
To make a long history incredibly short, the Nobel Prize began because Alfred Nobel caught a lot of heat for inventing dynamite in the late 19th century. In fact, a French newspaper erroneously published his obituary before he died and called him The Merchant of Death. This intensely pained Nobel, and he became determined to leave a better legacy than that.
The prizes he established have been the highest benchmarks for achievement in the world since 1901.
The Thompsons, who have lived in the Lake Oswego-West Linn area since 1988, got to roll with this prestigious company when the chief executive officer of Volvo called to say he had six tickets to the Nobel banquet and awards ceremony and asked the couple if they wanted to go. They said, yes, of course, and began many weeks of frantic preparation.
David Thompson had to find just the right tuxedo, plus the right cufflinks and handkerchief.
Being a woman, Ann Thompson had an even tougher job, getting her hair, makeup and nails just right. She also managed to find a gorgeous blue gown.
However, Ann Thompson had an awful mishap just before the trip to Stockholm. On a wet day, she was just coming into her kitchen after a workout and wearing new tennis shoes. She proceeded to slip on a wet spot and injured her left shoulder so badly that she tore her rotator cuff. It hurt like heck, but there was no way she was going to miss the trip to Sweden.
I pushed through it, she said. It wasnt going to stop me. It was too important. It was like going to the Oscars.
Like the Oscars with snow.
When the Thompsons arrived for the Nobel banquet, they found a storybook setting outside of Stockholm City Hall, with 25-degree weather and snow all around. But Ann Thompson noted: Not one woman was wearing a coat.
Meanwhile, a huge crowd of paparazzi faced the tightest event security ever. Crashing was impossible, David Thompson said.
The Thompsons sat at the middle table of the giant hall. There were 600 goose-stepping waiters, marching four abreast. The dinner lasted four hours, and in between courses there were circus acts as entertainment.
They were swinging from the freaking ceiling, David Thompson said. It was like something out of the 1400s.
The Thompsons found themselves just five seats down from the Swedish royal couple, the beloved Queen Silvia and the not so beloved King Carl XVI Gustaf, who was trying to bounce back from a sex scandal.
Certainly, the 2012 Nobel Prize Award Ceremony was an event that had everything.
Now, David Thompson is back home in Oregon and selling Volvos. Ann Thompson has her left arm in a sling and is facing a long healing process. But they will always have their memories of a bright, shining December night in Stockholm in 2012.
This was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, Ann Thompson said. Its so rare its not even on your bucket list. It was such a privilege to be able to witness this astounding event.
2012 Nobel Prize winners
Physics: Serge Haroche and David J. Wineland for groundbreaking experimental methods that enable measuring and manipulation of individual quantum systems.
Chemistry: Robert J. Lefkowitz and Brian K. Kobilka for studies of G-protein-coupled receptors.
Physiology or medicine: Sir John B. Gurdon and Shinya Yamanaka for the discovery that mature cells can be reprogrammed to become pluripotent.
Literature: Mo Yan who with hallucinatory realism merges folk tales, history and the contemporary.
Peace: European Union for over six decades contributing to the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe.
Economic sciences: Alvin E. Roth and Lloyd S. Shapley for the theory of stable allocations and the practice of market design.
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