Thursday, April 2, 2009

The cat's out of the bag!

Where did THAT expression ever come from, I wonder?    

This is the news you've all been waiting for.
  (No, Mother, I'm not having another child. Breathe!)

As my knitting-obsessed compadres know, I have not so much as touched a needle since mid-March. Knitting is the key to my sanity. The Master Key.

But I'm fine, thanks for asking. The kids are somehow alive and well. The Big Guy is smart enough to stay out of the house. It's all good.

Now, armed with the knowledge that I must knit in order to function, you've got to also know that whatever was going on in my life had to be big. 
Oops, I mean BIG. Right?
Oh. It. Was.

 So, I'm at the Post Office one day, working dilligently at my Post Officely duties, when I get that PING! from Mail on my Mac.

And it was Oprah.   (Are you there? Get up! Keep reading!)

Well, not really Oprah.
It was one of the producers of The Oprah Winfrey Show. (ohmygod)

What, you don't get emails from Oprah on a random Thursday afternoon?
Yeah, me neither.

It was actually The Lovely Rita, with whom I have since spent about 32 hours on the phone. (I need 'people'. I have no 'people'. Though when the occasional mistake pops up, I wholly blame my fictitious 'assistant', complete with the lament, "you just can't get good help these days". 
So I have invisible people. And they apparently just screw up all day. I hate my 'people'.)

For an entire week following these events, I walked around muttering 'I want to be Rita when I grow up'. But I've since realized, I don't want to BE Rita (too exhausting), I want to be able to HIRE Rita. That girl GETS IT DONE!

They are doing a show about interesting places to live, she said.  Is Frenchboro an interesting place to live? 

We talked at length, and in the end the Show's producers agreed, it IS an interesting place to live, and they'd like to come out and film us.

Here. They want to come here.
To Frenchboro.
To film US.
In March.
We can't get off for emergencies, the weather is so unstable, but they're going to come here to film us, because we're so...interesting.

OK, I'll play along.
Sure, I said. What can I do to help?

I've put off sharing this with you because an air date has not yet been set, and frankly...the whole affair has been rather ethereal. Other- worldly.
I keep thinking I will wake up soon having dreamt the whole thing. 
It's happened before. I have sleep issues. I sometimes dream entire fiction novels in just a few minutes of snatched sleep. Would that I had time to write them down... forward to Tuesday, March 17th. After some 5 straight days of insane coordinating, we brought The Lovely Rita and her camera crew out to the island via lobsterboat.

And the weather was perfect!

 I can't get off to get a haircut.

They interviewed everybody who would stay still long enough. And we held down those who wouldn't stay still.

Hi, I'm Marissa, and I've successfully avoided being captured on film in any format for all but my youngest years. 

I hated every minute of that filming part. 
And, NO Camera Dudes, it does NOT get easier as the day goes on. What happens is you forget the camera is there after, oh, 12 hours or so, and scratch what itches, etc.

I was totally traumatized by the camera-ing.

But what a blast we had with Rita and her camera crew!
One of the guys may have been a little shell-shocked at some of our actions (and language, coughBigGuycough) and blatant disregard for professionalism.
We had to keep reminding him that he was on our turf, and that we'd provided his ride over.
And that we were providing his ride back.
He was able to adjust admirably.

The other two needed no such adjustment period. They were a riot! By the time I met up with the bunch of them, my husband had held full court for almost 6 hours. 
Yes, even that day, I worked my regular gig at the Post Office. I need that 42 dollars. We'll still have to eat next week- or at least feed the kids. I couldn't give up the day's pay, and I don't get paid if I don't go in. 

So the camera crew were well versed in 'Big Guy' by the time they reached me. In retrospect, that was not my wisest decision.

For example- and this is the now-infamous microphone mishap-

They met me at the FireHouse, trying to quell my shaking hands, when one of the camera guys got out of my truck and walked toward me. He was fiddling with something, but it was too small to be a camera, so I directed my attention to the fellow on my left who WAS holding a camera. 
On me.
 I squeaked (cotton-mouthed), "is that thing on?"
Yup, He said. Just act natural.
mmmm, yeah.

Dude #1 is now standing directly in front of me. Film is rolling. He's rather close. He's got this big friendly smile on his big friendly face. He reaches up, and pulls my shirt out at the neck.
Camera's still rolling. 
Mustn't swear! Mustn't hit! Must be composed! Must think of something!!

I come out with, "DUDE! I charge for that!"

Won't my Dad be proud.

Turns out The Big Guy put him up to it.
I'm really touched. It shows a marked appreciation for me, don't ya think?
I haven't gotten him back yet. It needs to be GOOD. And it will be.

Turns out, the guy had a wireless microphone he needed to hook to my bra strap. He'd just been through this with Tammy. She had issues with placement, and just pulled her shirt over to expose her bra strap for the fellow to clip the mike on himself, as he was very familiar with placement. (He just needed the shoulder strap of a bra.)
That was all my husband had to see! He knew I'd go along with a gag. 

Frankly, I'm totally flattered. I breastfed two kids. The last time anyone showed any interest was Thing Two, and heck, that was like 5 years ago.

PLEASE NOTE: NO improprieties occurred at any time. I took no offense. Nothing was viewed or exposed. I state this clearly because one woman reacted violently when I jokingly relayed the story later, and I realized that it may sound improper to some. It was not.  This event took place in fun, as was intended! Please do not read any more into it. In the end, I clipped it on myself- I think he was afraid of me! (Or perhaps he thought he'd actually receive a bill???)

Anyway, those camera guys fell apart in hysterics. It was all good after that- which is exactly why The Big Guy told them to do it. It's all uphill from there, right? And Big Guy knew I needed the comic relief, as I may or may not have spent the morning vomiting in terror. 
Camera terror.

We really enjoyed the day with them, and hope they come back out for some non-work-related,  party-type-activity.
We know how to throw a party out here. (And we don't even drink! It's all about the food.)
And may I add, you know you've made an impression when we invite you back. Not everybody is extended the invitation. Seriously.

Highlights from the day (other than my microphone experience) were an interview with me standing by the Deli, freezing my butt off and squinting into the sun. Oh, and spittle flying from my mouth at random intervals. Maybe it happens all the time, and I never noticed? Well, happened that day. And on film.
Quite a few times, actually.
Have NO IDEA what I said. Could be scary.
I do remember making the comment, "We wear many hats" in reference to too few people to do too many town jobs. I also remember a line that went something like, "I have so many volunteer jobs here, I change hats like Sybil changed personalities." (Will anyone even get the obscure reference to that old movie??) (And, yeah-bright move, aligning myself with Sybil like that. That's gonna come back to haunt me.)
Ooooooh, my. I can't wait to see the footage on the show.
Just to be clear, I am in possession of a college degree. Just in case it comes into question later.

Then there was the ramp.

One of the camera dudes had me walk down the ramp at the Town Dock, while he filmed me.
Walk down the ramp. I even have to say it? God Forbid it be high tide! But it wasn't dead-low, so That Other Big Guy must harbor some love for me.

And, Hello! Who am I, Giselle??!!!?
I should be filmed walking down the ramp, why???

Well, apparently, this guy needed his daily dose of humor. Oh, I got down the ramp just fine. That's called gravity.
I tripped on the way back UP.
That's Marissa.

I said,"Oh no. NO. You're not putting that on film. I'm doing that again!"
All forceful-like, and knowledgeable. Commanding film presence, and all that.

I slid to the bottom of the ramp, and began my ascent again. All graceful,- but purposeful-, looking over the camera man's shoulder as if I were viewing some very interesting and beautiful creature that would likely inhabit our picturesque and serene harbor...
...ok, it was my van.
And I fell. Right out of my shoe.
And I may have uttered an un-Christian remark. Sort of loudly. And on film.
And that was how I met Larry The Cameraman. 

As my neighbor later remarked, 'He weren't too impressed by us.'
Nope, I don't think he were. 

He was the fella who needed some time to adjust. Later, he was cool. We broke bread.
And he told me it took every ounce of professionalism he possessed not to bust out laughing on that dock with me. 

I told him he should get a medal. Or an Oscar. And that I wished he'd laughed.
That's all it takes to win me over. 
I'm so easy.

Tammy had some good times of her own, while I did my best nervous- and- shaking Don Knotts imitation at the Post Office.
She had a dream, or something. It's her dream to have a store on Frenchboro.

We signed permission slips to let Rita and The Crew into school. The kids didn't get what it was all about; the little ones still don't. Fortunately, they're used to being, well, gawked at, because of our behind-the-times one-room schoolhouse (which contains more technology and a better curriculum than most mainland schools!), and they are gracious to visitors. They are a good bunch of kids.
I am constantly wowed by our kids and our school. 

Thing One left school that day with this to say, "Mom, you'll really like this lady."
(Now I'd already spent about 30 hours on the phone with Rita, aka, 'this lady', and knew just a day or two into it that I really liked her- or I wouldn't have gone through with any of this- so I couldn't wait to hear what she was going to come out with...)
"She reeeeally likes to talk. You two will get on just fine."

I think I've been profiled.

So, as I said, we fed Rita and the film crew. It's my Thing. I want everyone fat and jolly.  Tammy took them up to my house at lunchtime, and at the end of the day, we managed to squeeze 30 or so people into my house for dinner. 
It was sort of like the clown car at the circus.
My house will never be confused with Martha's Skylands, over in NorthEast Harbor.
I may or may not have planned it that way. Safety in numbers, hide from the cameras. Maybe.

I later counted up the kids. There were 16 kids there that night. You'd never have known it.
We played cards, ate, talked, joked, made fun of each other...a typical evening. Sometime in the middle of all that mayhem, Rita and the crew took their leave. There was hugging, and the packing up of food 'for the ride'. (Thanks, Mother. I made fun of you for years- years- for doing that. Look at me now.) I was an unsuccessful food pusher- they had a lot of stuff to carry up and down a boat ramp, in the dark. 
I live with the shame.

(By the way, following in my Mother's, and Aunts' footsteps, the proper way to send off a guest is to wrap up leftover food and pastries, fix a plate, etc. and force it onto the unsuspecting victim. Should you, yourself, ever be the departing guest, you must -must, emphatically- refuse any such packages, firmly, almost rudely, in fact. And then an hour or so later, you must call the host and declare wistfully, 'Oh, what I wouldn't do for another zeppola, those were fantastic, haven't had them in so long....'
I had assumed this was a learned behavior. No. It's genetic. My kids are doomed.)

Many thanks to all my island neighbors who brought food and desserts- and helped clean up!
Becky, who brought enough food to feed an army! Ann, and Tammy, and...even Kristi, who I forced to make her fabulous coleslaw, and who left it on the doorstep to avoid the cameras!!
You know, there was so much food at my house by the time I got back with the crew, I don't know who made what, or whom to thank!

So Thank You, One and All. You know who you are.
And how much I appreciate it.

Stay tuned for the second part of this story tomorrow!

Still to come: the actual taping of the show.
With Ms. Oprah Winfrey. 
Via skype.

What's there to be nervous about?


  1. Holy buckets! Now I know someone famous. You swore on camera??? Did you knit?

  2. OH NY To be in your shoes, or bra as the case may be

  3. All I can say is....."Holy S***"! What an unbelievable experience. I can't wait to see the show. You will have to let us know the date when you get it. We waited months for Judge Judy to air the episode my daughter was on and that was so much fun to watch. Oprah is the ultimate!!

    I also can't wait to see your little island!

  4. Wow, how COOL!!!! I can't wait to watch the footage. And oh how I wish I had a zeppola right now!

  5. zOMG! That's awesome! I loved reading your writeup!!! Can we move to Frenchboro and be one of your neighbours?

  6. Loved that story, Rita couldn't have told it better on Oprah I am sure, LOL.

    I wanna visit, I HAVE to say though you can;t fill me with food, but the rest, including the tripping, yeah that's so me, is all good.

  7. Awesome! So is there an air date yet? Or did I miss that somewhere?