My friend got four tickets to the taping of the Nate Berkus Show. Who? Yeah, I had to google him, too. I would never have gone were it not my best friend, The Artist. I thought a trip to NYC would be fun, no matter what the reason. I remember the days when I’d take day trips to NYC…or night runs for dinner. I’d be pretending to study in my dorm room when the phone would ring. A friend would say, “Hey I got a car -- want to go for dinner in NY?” Well, duh! Of course I’d say yes.
We’d be going with two friends of The Artist. Hugs, hellos and fussing as the two of us get in the car to pick up Karen around the corner. The 3 of us then go to Jen’s house. See Jen run out her back door, to her car. See Jen run back in the house. See Jen run out the front door, and jump in the back seat.
We chatter away and the two in the back seat argue intermittently about the best way to get to Trenton. I feel a headache coming on. Our boots tap-tap and clack-clack as we hurry across the pavement, then the glossy floor of the train station. Conversations about our children intersperse with comments about our outfits. Oh, I love that hat! It’s so you. Mine’s in 3rd grade, how about yours? Should my pants be in or out of my boots? Do you think we can make an earlier train? Let’s find coffee. I have to stop in the rest room. Where’d they go? Wait!
|Look! Hi, Tim!|
The train takes an hour longer than it should but we’re too busy talking. Me, too, talking. But what I really wanted was a latte and quiet. That headache grows. Not a headache so much as a too-fullness; the talking jiggling the nerves in my too full head. Like nitro.
I’m in heels too high and another walks too fast. We’re like a slinky dog as we 4 stretch and careen and back again. Weaving through the Manhattan crowd 2 by 2 then 3 and 1 then 2 by 2 again in different sets.
|Fries sprinkled with cheese|
Many more with Earphones. One comes in and makes an announcement. Another hands out forms. Then another form. Then they collect them. There’s one guiding the line of women needing the restrooms. Two male versions stand nearby. Another one hands out the same form they just collected. Sorry-we-shouldn’t-have-collected-it-I-didn’t-get-the -memo. Another one is recruiting for future shows. She even asks to take a picture of us because she “likes our vibe.”
The waiting room, the hallway, the restrooms are all dingy – the green aura of cheap fluorescent. (Maybe that’s where the term “green room” comes from?) I keep waiting for my glasses to clear up, but it’s not that. It’s just dark and dingy and the worst lighting I’ve ever seen. I feel like I’m in the movie, Brazil.
There are more and more of these drones. We are herded through. We get a “gift” which we are not to open. We enter the studio. No. Wait.
WE. ENTER. THE. STUDIO.
If you could hear the eternal light of Heaven, this would be it. The clatter and jabber and shuffle of the audience dies away as they all sense the clarity, the perfection, as if we are entering the presence of The Almighty. Not because Nate Berkus is such a bigshot, but because the studio is this white box of perfection. Only a Higher Being could dwell here. There are no shadows or gradations. No blind spot or heat spot. Everything in that studio is covered in a clear, pure white light.
There is another Earphone, but she has a name, Dena, and she is paid to keep us entertained, and keep our "energy up." There’s also a male Earphone named Gab and he’s a comedian, too. They tell us when to clap,and for how long.
Then there’s Nate. Charisma. Gentle and sweet, a charm you can smell. And he's one of those men that you think must smell good. I thought I’d hate this part, the clapping too enthusiastically, the corny, made up “chatting” with the guests. I thought it was fascinating. I can see why people get caught up in all….THAT.
When we left the studio, we headed to a Greek restaurant around the corner from the studio. We had more fries sprinkled with cheese. We were all less talkative. We each made calls to our families. Then we took the train back to Trenton, all of us quiet, ready to get back to our real lives. Our ride back to our houses was quieter. No arguing about which roads to take.
We said our goodbyes as if we had just carpooled to a friend’s party. A perfectly tanned, perfectly coiffed, perfectly spoken where nobody is offended or wrinkled or have panty lines.
|Me, Bren, Jen, Karen in the audience.|