Sunday, February 12, 2012

New York, Day 2: FFG and the Australian Guys

I was in the lobby at 10:15, as planned, texting a friend because my hands were shaking and they needed something to do. A tall, thin man with round glasses walked past the desk and I looked up. He smiled politely, and walked through the restaurant doorway. I returned to my phone.

A moment later: “Excuse me, are you Lynn?” said the tall, thin man in a smooth Australian accent. Gulp. Yes. Yes I am. “Your hair is much lighter than it was when I saw you online.” Yes. Yes it is. “Shall we get coffee and talk for a moment?” Yes. Yes we can. Tall, thin, spectacled man was “60 Minutes Australia” producer Howard Sacre.

I ordered a decaf and Howard a double espresso. I was in the the throes of nerves and cotton mouth, which happens every time I’m the interviewed rather than the interviewer. Even though experience has taught me that the nerves will climb in the back seat once I’m comfortable with the crew and surroundings, convincing myself beforehand is like assuring a child that you’ll catch them if they jump in the pool. “Just jump!” you say, opening your arms. Still, he walks back and forth with his floaties on and thinks, ‘I’m not so sure about this.’

After 20 minutes, the cotton mouth was gone and my nerves were at bay. Howard and I parted ways – he to his room to gather some things and I to the room in which we were taping. The cameraman’s room.

I took the lift (I was staying at The London. There are no “elevators.”) to the 14th floor. The door was ajar, held open by the latch. I knocked a few times and a man in jeans and a blue sweater opened the door.

“Hello,” I said, smiling and holding out my hand. “I’m Lynn.”

“Come in!” he said (read this in an Australian accent). “I’m Richard.”

The room was mine in reverse, and filled with equipment cases. A housekeeper was making the bed as a man in jeans and a green shirt set up microphones in the corner. Another man, tall and wearing a dress shirt, was sitting on the couch, reading something on an iPad.

“Hi, I’m David,” said the man in the green. I said hello and shook his hand and walked over to the couch. The dress-shirt man looked up and smiled.

“Hello, I’m Liam Bartlett,” he smiled and shook my hand (seriously...read this in Australian). His eyes were warm and reassuring, which was a good thing, because I knew I had to focus on them, not the camera, for the next 30 minutes.

Liam and I chatted for a few minutes. Howard walked in the room. The housekeeper left. Liam and I moved to chairs in front of the coffee table so Richard and David could set up the lights and sound. I stayed focused on Liam and did a lot of deep breathing.

“I  wonder what the housekeeper was thinking when she saw you walk into this room of men setting up cameras and microphones,” laughed Richard. Great ice breaker, although I blushed and I am the world's worst blusher. Red cheeks, red nose. I look a fright.

David moved to the corner and put on a headset. He needed to measure sound levels, so he asked me to say something.

“I ordered two eggs over hard and whole wheat toast, dry, from room service this morning. I slathered the toast in blueberry jam and ate both pieces, but I only ate one of the eggs,” I said. Where did THAT come from?

“Over hard? What’s that?” asked one of the guys.

“You know…cooked so the yolks aren’t runny. I’m taking a food safety class and I’m scared to death of salmonella.” Again, where did THAT come from? Good lord, I should have been less concerned about diarrhea from salmonella and more concerned about diarrhea of the mouth.

But when you have a guy adjusting a big, fuzzy microphone in front of you, and another setting up two light panels between the camera that’s going to record every blessed time you twitch, blink, lick your lips or…god forbid…pick you nose, because some other guy is talking to you about how obese you used to be and how you’re trying not to be obese again...well...stupid stuff comes out of your mouth.

But…you gotta ignore the camera and the lights and the microphone and focus on the eyes of the interviewer and the message you want to present. Focus. Answer his questions. Stay on message.

And I did. At least I think I did.

And, like a pap smear, before I knew it, it was over. That part, at least. Howard wanted to move the party to Central Park. But before we did, Richard taped me fake blogging on the bed because I told them I do a lot of writing in bed. (Back me up, bloggers. Surely some of you bring your laptops to bed, right?)

It was a beautiful, sunny 50-degree day. Central Park was alive with people and pigeons and ice skaters at the rink, which blasted all kinds of music: One Republic, Lenny Kravitz, The Who, Lady Gaga, Florence and the Machine. The guys taped me walking and stretching and doing push-ups off a bench. When we were done, Howard and I walked back to the hotel, while Richard and David hailed a cab.
Richard Malone, Howard Sacre, and Daivd Ballment
As we walked to the hotel, my inner journalist came out and I asked Howard all kinds of questions. This is what I love about these kinds of experiences. It's what I love about blogging, too. I get the great fortune of learning so much about people. Howard is such an interesting man. Kind. Very unassuming. He told me the crew was heading to Siberia next to do a story on the coldest inhabited town on earth. It reminded me of Mad Dog and Chris from CNN. What a fascinating duo they were, too. (Click here to read “CNN Comes the Suburbs ofPittsburgh.”)

Back at the hotel, Howard excused himself because he had an idea he wanted to check out. I hung out with Richard and David and played journalist with them, too. It was worth every moment of nerves to meet and talk to them.

Howard returned and said he wanted to tape me eating a salad. Oh…ok.

“I’ll want to change my clothes,” I said, somewhat skeptically. Remember, I eat salad like a cow chewing cud.

“What…you can’t eat in that?” he said, pointing to my workout clothes.

“Um…no,” I said, giving him that Spock eyebrow raise. “I’d like to at least appear civilized.”

I changed clothes. Howard and I walked around the corner to scope out Fluffy’s. Yes, Fluffy’s, which I give two big thumbs up to because they made me an awesome salad. And…they gave me a 10 percent off card for anytime I go back. In Manhattan, that can mean several dollars!
Howard went back to the hotel and collected Richard and David as I figured out how to ask the man who was on his phone in the front corner window to move. Howard wanted to tape me from the outside.  

I chose the super sweet “pass a note” approach. I dug out a receipt from my purse and on the back wrote, “I’m so sorry to interrupt you, but may I ask you a question?” The man in the corner was talking to someone about quarterbacks, specifically Eli Manning (the Giants had just won the Super Bowl two days before). I handed him my note.

“Wait…wait…hold on,” he said into his phone. He looked at me and smiled. “Hey, let me call you back” and he shut his phone.

“Hi,” I smiled. “I’m really sorry you had to end your conversation, but I’m working with a crew from Australia and they need to film me eating a salad here in this corner. Where you’re sitting. Would you consider moving for a few minutes?”

He laughed (how do New Yorkers laugh in an accent?). I’m pretty sure he was thinking I was going to ask him something else…*grin*. “No problem!” he said, and moved to the other side of the counter. Hopefully he’ll be in the footage. He was a great guy.

A few minutes later, Richard, David and Howard arrived outside and started setting up. A few tourists walking past looked into the restaurant, trying to figure out if they recognized who was being taped. I say “tourists” because if they were native New Yorkers, they’d have not given two sh*ts. I love the anonymity of NYC.

David walked in the restaurant, armed with a mic. FYI, getting set up for a mic is one of the most intimate non-sexual things you ever do with another person. The cord needs to run up through your shirt. There’s no way around it. And the receiver is attached to your pants or some place in back. You pray the sound guy has warm hands.

David was really good at it, and, being a gentleman, he asked me to tape the mic on the part of my bra between my breasts. He did, however, have to attach the receiver to my jeans, just above my right hip, and I know he had to have seen a few of my faded stretch marks. Yes…I have them, and they’re a source of angst AND inspiration. Inspiration because they remind me how far I’ve come. In this case, however, they caused angst. I shook it off and sat down.

Richard taped me eating a few bites of salad before setting up the camera in another location. David was standing next to him with his headset on.

“Can you hear me?” I said softly. He smiled and nodded.

“I’ve never talked to my breasts before,” I said. I wasn’t wearing an ear piece, but I saw him throw his head back and laugh. “I’ve had them talked to before,” I continuted, “but I’ve not had the pleasure.”

So sue me, I was a little flirtatious! Have you spent any time with Australians? They’re a LOT of fun!

We wrapped it up and went back to the hotel. I had to catch a cab and they had to buy Sorel boots and Gore-Tex for their trip to Siberia. I wanted a photo with all of us and we needed Liam. He was on his way back from shopping, so I took advantage of the time and quizzed my new friends some more.

Our conversations were some of the best fun I’ve ever had. No matter how this interview turns out (It will air in a month or two…I’ll be sure to post the link), I am so very glad to have met such a fabulous group of guys. Not only did they make me feel comfortable, they trusted I knew what I was talking about. Maintenance is not for sissies. Neither is going to Siberia in winter. As you read this, please send out some good thoughts to four wonderful Aussies.
David Ballment, Richard Malone, me, Howard Sacre, and Liam Bartlett

12 comments:

  1. Oh please be sure to let us know when it's airing...I'm Aussie and I'd love to watch it!!

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  2. That David guy almost looks like Uncle Marty. How funny!

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  3. OMG! I love the breast banter...hysterical. I'm glad you had such a great experience.

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  4. Awww, you did great, just as I knew you would! Sounds like it was a really interesting experience! I can't wait to see the show!

    P.S. I saw a thing in Pinterest recently where they compared stretch marks to tiger stripes...fierce, earned. :)

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  5. That is sooo cool! I hope you can post it on your blog (assuming it won't air over here).

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  6. I love how you describe things, I felt like I was there just reading about it. I can't wait to see the segment, I know you were great!

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  7. So where are you on Tuesday... Come one over to 45 Rock for lunch !!!!

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  8. Hi Lynn, I've just found your blog (via Shelley) and this is the first post I've read. I'm an Aussie as well, so will have to keep an eye out for the show!

    Deb

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  9. What a great report! Thanks for sharing it with us. Can hardly wait to see the show!

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  10. Love it, love it all! And the line "And, like a pap smear, before I knew it, it was over." cracked me right up. I hope it's online, sounds like it will be a great story!

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  11. Congrats on your obviously charming and competent interview. I agree -- Aussies are da bomb!

    Ann

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  12. Hello from Australia, I am also another one that read your blog so I would love to know when this will be going to air. Don't want to miss it.

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