So the Today Show segment was over, Natalie shook my hand, we chatted for a few seconds, and then Marnie, Galina (the senior editor of People who was on the segment, too), Andrea the makeup artist and I made our way through the windy underground tunnel to the Time building and the People Magazine offices where I’d be doing the shoot for Entertainment Tonight.
I felt like a kid following her mother. I had no idea where I was going or what was going to happen and so I just looked around and tried to take it all in (and keep up – New Yorkers walk so fast and I still had on those Oprah boots!). Sandwich shops and lots of people walking and talking on cell phones are about all I can remember. We went to the Time building’s security desk and they had to see an ID. I showed them my driver’s license. I had my old license, too, the one when I was 300 pounds, and I showed Marnie who showed it to the women at the security desk. I told them my DMV story and how I had to beg them to give me a new license before it expired because I was unable to cash a check anymore because the photo looked nothing like me and I almost couldn’t purchase a bottle of wine. Oh the horror!
I got a pass and we got in the elevator. We landed on the 20-something floor, I think, and Marnie led me to a conference room. Andrea had several faces to do that day, including a retouch for Galena and me, so she set up her wares on the conference table. We talked about her family home in Jamaica and menopause and dry skin. She bought me some Baked Lays from the vending machine because all I had was a 5 and no change. She told me about her career, too, and like Marnie, I think we would be friends if I lived in New Yorkand worked in that field. I’ll probably never see Andrea again, but what a joy to have known her for a moment.
The ET production guys were setting up in another room. Three other production people from I-don’t-know-where were in the conference room with Andrea and me waiting to set up their own shoot. One of the guys told me his grandparents were Slovak and lived in southern Pennsylvania and worked in the coal mines. He and his wife had also done Weight Watchers together a few years before. Lost some weight. He seemed happy.
I loved all the accents most of all. Everyone had that New York thing happening to varying degrees. I loved the diversity, too. Like Chicago, there are so many people living and working in Manhattan from other parts of the world, and it’s fun to talk to them and observe them. It’s good to remember that I’m only a small part of this vast world. It’s easy to forget that living in a small town.
The ET folks were ready for me and I walked into a studio-like room and sat in a director’s chair. There was a producer, a cameraman, a sound man and another man, a director, perhaps, who looked like Samuel L. Jackson and had a voice like Barry White. Oh my. The producer sat in a chair by the camera and interviewed me off camera. They were all very kind and cool and I was beginning to understand why everyone was like this, both at Today and ET. If I’m feeling nervous, I won’t give a good interview. If they keep the mood light and I’m distracted by laughter, I’m more relaxed and will give better face to the camera.
The sound guy attached my microphone and lightly put a cord with a piece of tape on it on my chest. He asked me to press it on to my shirt. I said, “You don’t want to do it?” I meant it only in terms of letting him know I wouldn’t prevent him from doing his job. He said, “Well, only if you want me to.” I said, “Well, it’s not like I haven’t had a few sound guys’ hands up my shirt more than once today,” referring to the Today Show. I didn’t mean it the way it came out, or maybe subconsciously I did, but everyone laughed even harder and Samuel L. Jackson said, in his delicious Barry White voice, “We may need to discuss that later!”
Because this made me laugh and I was relaxed, they got the interview they were looking for.
And with that, my media campaign was over. I was free to leave the building. Free to leave New York. It was about 11:15 and I called my friend Tracie, whom I’d never met in person and who works just a few blocks from where I was, and she said she’d meet me at my hotel and we’d have lunch.
Tracie and I met through Weight Watchers online, and then when we discovered we both love Glen Phillips, well, that sealed the BFF deal. (It was this blog – A Perfect Evening: A Date With My Daughter – that started it all.)
Tracie is one of the most confident people I’ve ever met. She’s bold and sassy and smart and down to earth. Busy as hell, but she keeps it together. Here we are in the little restaurant where I wolfed down a ginormous salad because the Baked Lays earlier just didn’t cut it.
Soon it was time to get back to the hotel because a car had been ordered to take me to the airport at 1:00. The car was already there when we walked up the street toward the hotel, so I went inside, got my luggage and Tracie and I said goodbye. Unlike Marnie and Andrea and Natalie and Laura and Galina and all the other folks I met that day, I will see Tracie again.
There’s more to this adventure. I promise a Part 3 later today or early tomorrow.