The day started out on a sour note. After a week of sunny, warm weather, Chicago had suddenly turned rainy and cold. The outfit I'd scoured the stores for, bought coordinating jewelry and sandals for, would not work. I'd look like a fool in a summery dress and beige sandals with big, flouncy flowers. So with a sigh, I left outfit A in the closet and slipped into Plan B--a dress with a sweater and closed-toe heels with pantyhose. But at least, the jewelry was coordinating.
After a forty-five minute drive into the city, my entourage and I arrived at the WGN studios. (Really, I was accompanied by my sister-in-law, Barb Manseau, and my aunt, Phyllis DeCicco, but they were as good as any entourage out there. I'd bet my bottom dollar on that!) Barb had graciously offered to drive and I was so glad she did. If I'd been behind the wheel, we probably wouldn't have made it on time. Or alive. But we were safe and sound and ringing the buzzer for our grand entrance. The security guard asked me who I was here to see, and I stammered. Who was I here to see? What were the names of those news anchors? What was the name of the program? I stared at him with wild, frantic eyes, trying to remember my name. He calmly checked his clipboard and said, "You must be the Eastland author?"
Yes! I nearly screamed.The Eastland author. Thank you for reminding me. He chuckled and buzzed us into the lobby. "Green room's third door down on the right," he called and we started on our way down the yellow-brick road to the 'green room' where stars wait for their on-air cues!
Of course we would! And off we went to the legendary Bozo the Clown's studio across the hall. Bozo's no longer on the air, but the nearly vacant studio elicited 'oohs' and 'awwws' from all three of us nonetheless. Cameras snapped, flashes popped. We circled the cavernous room, delirious with excitement when I spied Bozo's Buckets.
"Tom's favorite!" I cried, snapping a photo for my husband. We tore ourselves away from Bozo and the staffers trying to have a meeting in the corner and headed back to our room to wait and watch WGN's morning programs on the fuzzy, outdated TV mounted on the wall. The television may not have been a state-of-the-art flatscreen, but the coffeemaker was top of the line. We sorted through the Keurig cups while my aunt flagged down another guy in the hall to bring us some water for our empty coffeemaker. We rummaged through the empty fridge, disappointed there weren't any bottles of Perrier or Smart Water, and tried to relax.
Barb and my aunt relaxed, I sweated and fussed and coughed. It was 11:00 am and the Midday News had just started. In forty minutes, I would be on live TV and I couldn't catch my breath. My knees were quaking and I knew I might faint if I didn't calm down. TV thankfully provided some momentary respite for my over-wrought nerves. It was White Sox day at WGN and the building was abuzz with baseball players and giveaways and food catered by Cellular One Stadium. An all-black Smart Car emblazoned with the White Sox logo had been parked in the hallway. Up on the screen, the Sox's newly acquired relief pitcher was being interviewed by the two Midday News anchors--Dina Bair and Steve Sanders. Addison Devon Reed was young and vibrant and chatting happily away while I watched in fascination and admiration. Could I pull off something like that? I didn't know, but I'd find out in twenty-five minutes.
I held my breath, waiting for the answer when she said, "Oh, he has all kinds of questions."
"What kind? What specifically does he want to talk about?"
"You're the expert," the bubbly producer said. "Who knows your book better than you?" She patted my arm. "You'll be great. Just be sure to look only at Steve. Like you're having a personal chat with him. Ignore the teleprompters and cameras." She smiled, hugged her clipboard to her chest, and turned to leave. "Be ready at 11:30 when I return to escort you to the Studio 3."
I stopped pacing and gulped. "Sure," I said in a voice that matched his. "Okay," I said to Barb and my aunt. "Wish me luck."
I never took my eyes off of him. Later, Barb and my aunt told me they were standing only a few feet away, watching as one camera shot me, another camera was aimed at Steve, and the third camera caught the image of both of us at the table. I hadn't noticed a thing. I didn't see my entourage. Didn't see the cameras. Didn't notice the director pointing his finger at one cameraman or another. The only thing I remember when the interview ended was Steve saying, "I hope you sell a million copies."