“In the future, everyone will be world famous for fifteen minutes”- Andy Warhol
I think Andy had a point with his prediction, which was made long before social media and smart phones recording anything and everything. Case in point- I have had two experiences with “fame”, both on television, and they are worth remembering.
The first was in the early 1990’s, when I was visiting New York for a week. No work, just fun and lots of time to do whatever sounded interesting. A former co-worker’s husband worked for ABC News, and they offered to get me tickets to the highly rated daytime talk show of the era, Live With Regis and Kathie Lee. I had watched the show several times, and really appreciated Regis and his sense of humor. My ticket included being at the front of the line to go into the studio, and first choice for a seat. So I found one about four rows from the front, and settled in for a fun morning. We had seat numbers that we were asked to remember. One regular feature was when the hosts called a viewer and asked them a question. If they answered correctly, they received a prize. Then they were asked to choose a number between 1 and 100. Whoever was sitting in that seat would also win a prize. I don’t remember what the question was, but the person on the phone answered correctly and my number was called. I got to stand up, and felt like I had just been told to “come on down” on the Price is Right. A staff member came to my seat during the next commercial, and got my mailing info for my prize. What fabulous prize did I win? A year long supply of tea, and an ice tea maker. The whole thing lasted about two minutes, but I was sure someone back home saw me since it was such a popular show. This was before cell phones, so I had to wait until I got home to see who had been watching that day. To my surprise, no one I knew saw it. I asked people for a couple of weeks about it, and then got kind of embarrassed, so I had to stop. And to add to my disappointment, I don’t drink tea. So I gave the prize to someone who would use it.
The next one will take a bit longer to explain, but it has a lot more humor. One of my daughters was getting married in the England, and we had spent a busy summer getting ready for the wedding. We were lucky to have a lot of help from her future mother in law who lived there. Without her help we could not have gotten everything done. The bride and groom were already there, but the rest of the family had to make their way across the pond. My husband and I had planned to go a week early to help, and hopefully be over our jet lag by the time the wedding occurred. This trip coincided with the peak of my discomfort with air travel, created by flying through a couple of thunderstorms. We had to get to an international airport from our hometown, so I made our plans with a long layover in Chicago before boarding our overnight flight. I also liked to get to the local airport early to avoid rushing to the gate. At a friend’s suggestion I also had gotten a prescription for Xanax from my doctor. It was small, and non refillable, so I needed to make sure I had enough for the flights home. If you have ever had a fear of flying, however, you will know that your anxiety usually maxes out before the first flight. And when I was on the plane, it didn’t stop the anxiety. It just kept me from jumping out of my seat and running down the aisle and asking to be let off.
The dosage info on my prescription said “1 pill as needed every 3 hours for anxiety”. We had gotten to the airport so early for the first flight, I had taken two of them- one when I woke up, and another about half an hour before we were scheduled to board. I had eaten a muffin so that I didn’t medicate on an empty stomach, but I was very, very relaxed. Minutes before boarding, there was an ominous announcement. Someone boarding our plane had what the security screeners thought was a bomb in his carry on bag. Our entire terminal was sent to the front of the building, and the bomb squad from the local police department was called. Since the guy was on our flight, they had to search the luggage hold too. It took awhile for the bomb people to arrive, and we could see them working in the distance when they did. Our local airport rarely has this type of issue, so the television news crews were on the scene fairly quickly. This is where the funny part starts.
One of the news crews was looking for a passenger to interview. They were standing near us, so I volunteered. This was going to be a live feed to the station, so there wasn’t a lot of time to chat. The reporter got my name, and that was about it. I usually hyphenate my last name, but I only gave her part of it. They started to film, and I was chatty, chatty, chatty. She asked me if I was scared. No way! I wasn’t worried at all. Just a possible bomb. I mentioned we were on our way to England, my daughter was getting married, and lots of other irrelevant details. The camera person seemed a bit amused, but I’m sure the reporter wished she had found someone else. I think I tried to hold her microphone too. Once I stopped talking, I pulled out my cell phone and posted on Facebook that we were delayed due to a bomb threat. Then the messages started pouring in. “Saw you on the news. Are you ok?” (Yes) , ” When did you change your name?” ( I didn’t) “Must be scary but you don’t seem upset” (Had some Xanax) and my personal favorite, “Have you been drinking?” (No). So unlike the tea prize of yesteryear, a lot of people saw me this time.
Luckily, the “bomb” turned out to be some homemade fireworks the random guy thought would be ok to bring on the plane. We were able to board our flight and made it to Chicago with time to spare due to my booking our flights with such a long layover. I slept most of the way to England, and we had a beautiful wedding, followed by some travel afterword too. I had enough Xanax for the flights home, and am happy to report I rarely need them now after finding a “overcome your fear of flying” program. The only problem we encountered after the wedding was when we came home to find our car had been nearly totalled due to the hail storm of the century. We had parked it outside to save money, which of course was irrelevant with so much damage.
All of our travels have been uneventful since the wedding trip. We never park outside, because that would induce the second hail storm of the century. And I do still like to get to the gate plenty early. You never know when you might need to be interviewed by the local media in the event of an emergency! It probably wouldn’t be as funny this time, though, without my medicated persona.