Oprah (Inside Edition)

16 Jul 2008

[Note; you can read about the episode I was on here, and watch the explanatory video I was on here.]

The nice folks from Oprah called recently to let me know the show I was on will re-air on July 25. So I thought I’d take a moment--it’s too darned hot to go out and garden!--and answer here the ten FAQs I get about being on Oprah.

1. Yes, Oprah really is as nice in person as she seems on the show. She exudes humanity and warmth. She’s also astonishingly professional in everything she does in the studio, even when the cameras are off, without ever seeming stiff. I was already impressed with her work (I especially appreciate how she highlights important social issues, gets involved politically, and encourages people to read), but I was more impressed after attending the taping. She does wear very impractical shoes, though. And her eyelashes apparently require a special assistant. I know I’d need one, too, if I wore those babies.

2. Yes, that really was me.

3. Yes, I know I don’t actually look like that. The stranger sitting next to me, who watched the producers at the start of the program run the tape of me made three weeks earlier, asked me after the tape ran, “Was that really you?” I answered, laughing, “Yes, I don’t actually look anything like this.” The make-up artist spent about 20 minutes on my eyes alone, and I lost track of how long they worked to fix my hair. I just know when I got back to the office from the show, I looked so weird in person that, though my closest friend at work agreed to go out to lunch with me, he told me he couldn’t actually look at me. The conductor on the train home, who knows me pretty well, wanted to know if I’d been out partying at a rock concert all night. It took seven rounds of make-up remover to find my skin, and I had to throw out the contact lenses I had worn. I guess a lot of people thought I looked good. One dad at the school bus stop kept asking me, for months afterwards, why I don’t ever look as good in person as I did on Oprah. I kept answering, “I just got up, man, I just got the kid dressed...” Finally one of the other moms told him to can it.

4. No, they don’t pay you. Or at least they didn’t pay me. But they gave me and my office mate, Myria, a lift in a fancy limo, to and from the show (about 2 miles each way), and they gave me a t-shirt (which I wore to my parents’ senior condo next time I visited, to the delight of the Oprah-wowed populace there), a baseball cap (which I gave to Myria), and a mug (which I donated to the office stash). But I am hoping that my contacts there will help in securing a grant for Brick-by-Brick Foundation, a wonderful non-profit founded by my baby, Colleen Kiernan, who grew up and went to Africa and ended up helping to build a school for children with developmental disabilities in Tanzania. If Colleen gets a grant from Oprah’s charitable organization to finish the school, that will be serious icing on the cake. (But in the meantime, you can join me in donating to help.)

5. I was only nervous once. That was when Oprah asked Katie whether or not she has a “va-jay-jay.” The truth is, I had absolutely no idea what Oprah was talking about. I was worried she might turn to me and ask something about “va-jay-jays” and I would have to tell her I had no idea what she was talking about. I told this story to my family when I got home, and explained to my mate and son that apparently she meant “vagina.” My seven-year-old son asked me why Oprah couldn’t just say “vagina.” I told him I had no idea, since he was able to say “vagina” just fine. A few months later, my son called and told me, on the phone while I was on a work trip, “Hey, Mom, we learned on ‘This American Life’ where the word ‘va-jay-jay’ comes from!” Thank goodness for NPR, because clearly Oprah alone isn’t enough to understand the world as it currently exists.

6. Yes, I thought the show was very well done. The guests did a fabulous job humanizing intersex issues, and the editors did a very good job editing the material they had.

7. No, I’m not going to be updating my website software the day before my Oprah episode airs again. In fact, I’ve been too traumatized to update it since it crashed the day before I was on Oprah and the mate had to medicate me. (Beer is medication, right?)

8. No, being on Oprah doesn’t actually change your life, especially if your website collapses the day before you’re on. It does cause contractors to think they can charge you more, though.

9. Yes, I do know other people who have been on Oprah. In fact, after I was on, two of my very good friends said to me, “Oh, yeah, when I was on Oprah....” and I said, “You were on Oprah?!” Which is proof it doesn’t change your life, I guess.

10. No, I’m not going to be joining “The View” as one of the regulars. That’s just a rumor my mother is trying to give legs.