When I was little, I used to stay up late at night and watch the Johnny Carson Show. (Do I have to link to Wikipedia here for the youngsters? Before Jay Leno, okay?) I used to imagine sitting on the couch across the desk from him, engaging in lively and somewhat risqué banter while inconspicuously tugging my beautifully frothy dress over my knees and demurely crossing my elegant, sparkly-heeled feet. Why was I being interviewed? My fantasy didn’t include those details. All I know is that I held Johnny in thrall and he hung on my every word while I smiled and chatted and talked about – well, again. Who knows. But I was delightful.
Many years, and a whole Tonight Night host debacle later, I have not been on Johnny’s, Jay’s or anyone’s late night talk show. I have laid low, raising children, teaching some folks and posting my essays on my website. I haven’t done anything, it appears, that anyone has ever wanted to interview me for or put me before a camera.
Some of the folks I teach are members of the over-50 crowd, the AARP set, retirees. I teach writing using a journal and mostly it’s a fun way to dig into parts of life that have often remained unexcavated. A few weeks ago, a former student from that class emailed me and said he had met some folks who wanted to put together a show with local writers, poets and musicians and would I be interested. Sure, I said, count me in. I had to audition, which was nerve-wracking, but it was kind of fun to be in a group of creative people and try out my work. I heard a few days later that I was in the line up – the first “First Thursday” was April 7th – and it was going to be videotaped. As this venture was a whirlwind, I didn’t realize that the couple behind it all were recent transplants who were interested in starting up another TV business here in Connecticut like they had back in Britain. I thought it was just going to be videotaped for posterity’s sake, not for commercial purposes!
But, ok. I’m game…
The night of the show I was nervous. I don’t mind being nervous because I feel like it keeps me on my toes and that way I don’t make any really huge mistakes…only lots of little ones. Like I might keep playing with my hair, but I don’t forget to read a whole page. I went on second, after the host’s intro and the first vignette – a scene from a play. I had to walk through the kitchen and time my entrance between the exit of the actress from the scene before and the possibility of the host coming back out to introduce me. He didn’t so I stepped out from behind the curtain – and into the lights.
I wish I could say that I took to it like a duck to water, but that would be a flat out lie. During the rehearsal, the director told me to remember to look at the camera. The sound person reminded me to speak directly into the microphone. I forgot it all as I stepped up to the mic and introduced myself. After that, everything was a blur…
It was videotaped. I’m on film. The producers told us that they’d have it online for us to see, but after I obsessively checked the website on the day it was supposed to be launched, I forgot about it. (Fine. I didn’t forget about it, but I had other stuff to do, too. Like work. And compulsively check online for the video.)
Today we got the email that it went live. The couple, David and Douglas Bibbey have worked tirelessly on the editing and it shows. Meanwhile they are also trying to get the next show ready to put up — it’s called First Thursday remember, so it’s soon. And they have kids. And it’s Spring Break. Lots and lots of reasons to put off editing a video that millions of people are waiting for. But they did it and it’s ready.
My fifteen minutes of fame. Actually, it’s less than that, but I’m okay with it. I closed my eyes the first time I watched it, just peeking as if I were watching a Scream marathon. Then I watched it again and I didn’t hate it. I kind of like it – which is why, of course, that I’ve written this whole description just to let you all know that now, you can watch it, too.
I hope you enjoy it. (Let me know!)