Monday, August 01, 2005

here's one

Several years ago now, when I was living in Chicago, I was going through a self-improvement book whore (hereafter SIBW) phase.

I was recuperating from the break-up of a four and half-year relationship, and I needed me some “cradle the inner child” followed by “serenity now” and finishing up with “can’t touch this goddess” literature. I could not get enough of it. It naturally follows, then, that when you’re in SIBW phase, and you happen to live in Chicago, you get on over to the Oprah show for a taping. That’s just what you do. And so I did.

Oprah’s website had posted their scheduling of new-agey spiritual guru Iyanla Vanzant as an upcoming guest to discuss her book, “In the Meantime.” Of course I’d read it. I’d read every book sold out of the Self-Help section of Brentano’s in Oak Park. On the site, there was a place to write in questions for Iyanla. I was bored, so I came up with one and sent it in.

To my great excitement, the producers called me at work, and asked if I’d like to ask Iyanla my question in person at the show? Yippity! You bet I did!!

The day of the show arrives. I’m seated especially in the second row, right up front, so the camera will have a clear shot of me when I ask my amazing and profound question which will knock Iyanla on her gauzey-skirted bum, and she’ll later ask to be my best friend forever. The show goes on and on, until finally we’re getting near the end. Other women, NOT scheduled to ask questions I will add, began asking their questions out of turn. During one of the breaks, a rinky-dink producer chick crouches by my chair and coaches me on how to ask Iyanla my question. I’m ready to go, and we’re back on the air. More talking, more talking…then more non-scheduled question-askers butt in!! Excuse me, do you not see that I am in the second row? I didn’t see a rinky-dink producer chick crouched in front of YOUR chair at any time. Dude!

Long story short, the show ends and I never got to ask my question. Hm. Slightly disappointing, but ah well. At least I didn’t stand up and make a fool of myself by getting all nervous and jittery and stupid. No chance of that now, so count it as a blessing.

OR NOT. This is not the end of the story, my friends. The story takes a nose dive from here. (And for those who have already heard this, feel free to stop reading.)

You may not know that Oprah likes to do this informal post-taping Q&A with her audiences. After Iyanla left the set, Oprah starts her informal chit-chat with her followers (oops) subjects (oops) audience members.

She starts telling us about how she can sometimes be overcharged for simple things, simply because she’s like the richest woman in the world and people think they can. She told us a story of when she and Stedman were staying at the Ritz in NYC, and decided to order some tea.

pause the story here...

You know how sometimes when someone is sharing a story to a large group they’ll scan over the whole crowd to whom they’re speaking? Well, Ms. Winfrey started out that way, but by the time she got to this story about the tea, she was no longer scanning…she had shifted her focus entirely to just one guessed it….Moi. In the second row. Oprah is looking at me. Oprah is LOOKING at me! She’s telling ME this story. The same eyes that have looked on Tom Cruise, Nelson Mandela, and Bono are now completely focused on ME. This is totally cool.

Back to the story of the tea...

I must confess the details are fuzzy over this next part. I don’t remember what exactly she was saying because my mind was occupied with other things, among which are the following: Oprah is looking at me. How do I look right now? Do I look okay? What is the expression on my face? I want to look interested, but not too interested. I want to look like I’m listening, but not like I’m trying too hard. I want to be pleasing, but not beaming. Oprah is looking at me.

Finally, we get to the climax of the story, where Oprah tells us just how much the Ritz wanted to charge Stedman and her for two cups of tea. She milks it a little: “So do you wanna know what the bill for this tea was?” I immediately shift my countenance to a look of “yes! What did it say? Tell us! Tell us!” Oprah pauses…

“Fifty dollars!” Oprah answered.

It is at this moment where I abandon all coolness, throw my head back with a violent Linda Blair impersonation, and with eyes as big as bicycle tires I scream at Oprah,


Congratulations, Mary. You have just clinched the Most Embarrassing Overreaction To a Tea Story” since 1906. (The previous winner is Bertha Bathwater from Shropshire UK after learning her butler had ordered Lipton instead of Earl Grey.)

The funniest part about it was, Oprah stood there in utter amazement. Her jaw even dropped an inch, and she didn’t say anything for a few seconds. She just stared at me waiting for my head to turn back around. Finally, gaining her composure, she gave me an awkward nod like “no, it’s true…freak” and quickly shifted her focus to someone non-psychotic.

So much for being best friends with Oprah. Ah well…these things keep me humble.
Oh. My.

Also, see, even The Oprah thinks you are beautiful. And then she got scared, but still.

Also, there is logic there if you dare to find it.
LOL, cool story! I'm sure she'll remember you, though LOL... God bless! C.

Only you, Miss Mary. But that's why I love you so.
Shut up! Cat posted non-anonymously?!?! To what do we owe this pleasure?
Well, it's really a moot point, since I'm right over there on the links. May as well. Depends on what's easier at the time.
Dude... that is a great story. Very funny. Love it!
Mary, genius. That self-help book bit was darn right genius. That "cradle inner child" to "can't touch this goddess"... brilliant. And then of course Oprah. A few people I've talked to who have had encounters with her have said she's a "people person".
Here I am blogging, 10 minutes before my girls need to leave for camp. Are they dressed, bathed, groomed, know where they even are right now? No. And that's just the kind of nanny I am. Just kidding. I'm not that bad. But for some reason, I enjoy making myself out to be worse than I really am. Proud of that.
You are always there for a good laugh when one is needed. Much love my dear!
Terri and I really miss you. We both got such a kick out of your blogs!! Yes, I remember seeing that Linda Blair image but it was associated with one -- Ginny Christensen. Oh, and watching the heat rise off the pavement is still a favorite Fresno, CA pastime. Wish you were here to watch it with us!! Take care.
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