The Frothy Monkey was crowded with coffee drinkers, 90% of them on laptops. (One table had three people sitting at it, all with identical white laptops. I guessed they were taking some kind of computer training class.)
My particular strain of social anxiety disorder (self-diagnosed) makes walking into crowded rooms a nice test of psychological courage. (I believe this disorder is why–even as far back as middle school–I have never liked cafeterias. Everyone else is sitting down. You’re standing up. People will look at you.)
I’d driven very, very fast to get there on time. I’d meant to leave early, but I had to find a shirt that wasn’t white because this article says white and black are the worst possible colors to wear if you’re going to be on TV. R.J. Keller, whose brother is a reporter and knows things about cameras and interviews and lighting, also told me not to wear black or white. Or red. I don’t have any red, but I do have plenty of black and white. Luckily, I found a green shirt I’d forgotten I owned.
No one says not to wear green.
My almost-lateness was actually caused by a combination of searching for the right shirt and messing with my hair, which had insisted on looking bell-shaped before it was finally restrained by little clip things.
I arrived at the Frothy Monkey ten minutes early, walked in, waited in line, and stood around uncomfortably while waiting for my coffee. Not only was it crowded, but I wasn’t sure if the people I was meeting were already there. I looked around and didn’t see a woman who looked like a TV journalist, didn’t see a guy with a camera, so I assumed they were still on their way.
“Turtle latte!” said the guy behind the counter, and I waved, said, “Here!” (I’d been pretending to read a bulletin board smattered in pictures and news clippings.) Turtle latte: chocolate, caramel, and praline. “Praline?” I’d asked. But it’s really good!
I went outside and sent texts to Ian so I’d look occupied. Ten-thirty came. Ten-thirty-three followed. They’re not coming! I thought. I got the time wrong! Maybe I was supposed to call them to confirm…?
I tried to remember the email sent by Producer Kacy. “Reporter and photographer will arrive at 10:30…Frothy Monkey…here’s a link to the website so you can get directions…”
Nope, nothing about calling anyone to confirm.
(Text, text, text…)
Me (to Ian) @ 10:35 – SITTING OUTSIDE BECAUSE IT’S O CROWDED IN THERE – HOT OUTSIDE! MUGGY! BLECH!
Ian @ 10:35 – THEY THERE YET?
Me @ 10:36 – NO.
Me @ 10:36 – YES! JUST CROSSING STREET NOW. AK!
The reporter I was expecting had called in sick this morning, so instead–happily!–I got to meet Producer Kacy, an incredibly warm and friendly woman who made me feel as comfortable as one can feel if one is inherently uncomfortable being photographed/videotaped.
(Geez…sounds like you’re uncomfortable with all kinds of things, Kristen…
Not really. Just crowded rooms and cameras. Moving on…)
We sat outside because the music inside was too loud, the room too crowded. Outside worked for me. It could have been twenty degrees hotter, and I’d still have wanted to be outside.
I sat in a chair moved from where it had been tucked under a table in the sun to a piece of shade falling from the building next door. I kept my coffee cup at my feet because Stephen, the photographer, said it would be better to have it out of the shot.
(Hm…must find something else to do with my hands…)
I got to wear one of those little wired mics they clip onto your shirt. Mine clipped onto a section near a button hole. Stephen had to mess with it once because I’d inadvertently moved it. Funny thing, having the hands of someone you don’t know that close to your breasts and not caring, knowing it’s all very professional.
Producer Kacy sat beside the camera, Stephen stood behind the camera, and I tried not to look at the camera. The only other person on the deck was a woman with wavy red hair sitting in the corner at an umbrella-shaded table.
I answered Producer Kacy’s questions, sometimes feeling quite eloquent, other times wondering how in the hell I was going to turn a lost sentence into something coherent. (“What are you even talking about? How’d you get here from there? Circle back! Circle back!”)
I felt the sweat in places sweat grows. I saw Producer Kacy sweating, too–and she’d even taken off her blazer. I tried not to blow my hair out of my face or wipe my cheeks and eyes and forehead.
“You can sit over here if you’d like some shade,” said the red-headed woman under the umbrella.
“Oh, no…we’re fine,” we said. “Thank you.”
I was fine, anyway. My shade, her shade…all the same. Poor Producer Kacy and Stephen, though, were in the sun.
Stephen asked if I’d like to read a passage from Homefront. (On the drive to the Frothy Monkey, I wondered if they’d want me to read, if I should have picked a passage, but thought, “Nah.”)
I read the same paragraph I’d read a while ago for the WKMS interview. (It’s the only one I’ve ever practiced, and because I already knew what page it was on, there’d be less waiting for poor, hot Stephen and Producer Kacy while I flipped through pages searching, frantically searching…)
While I read, Stephen carried the camera to where I sat and pointed the lens over my shoulder, circled it around the book, and did what felt like a close-up on my face. (It’ll be interesting to see how that part looks, if it makes it into the final cut.)
After the reading, voila! The interview was finished. Producer Kacy and I talked about her recent trip to Europe while Stephen took some shots of the book sitting on a table. Then they took my book away (with my permission, of course) so the reporter who’ll do the story on TV can get acquainted with it.
We said our goodbyes, and–finally able to wipe my forehead–I drove home.
In the car, I went over what I’d said. Tried to imagine being a stranger watching it on TV and listening to what always feels, to me, like a horribly inadequate synopsis of Homefront. (For some reason, “What’s it about?” is the question I have the hardest time answering. Ask me almost anything else, and I’m fine.)
I got home, put down my things, and went to my office. I opened my email and found this–sent to the address I use for my website–waiting in my in-box:
I wanted to shoot you a quick email saying I thought your “Better” interview went swimmingly. Take it from the shade-hogging redhead in the corner, you sold the book (at least to me, and I’m semi-discerning). Pardon my eavesdropping, but at that moment your book was more interesting than mine (I’m a magazine writer toying with a novel).
For what it’s worth, good job. You sold a book today.
The peanut gallery (AKA Jennifer —- )
Don’t you just love the internet?
The show is scheduled to air on “Better Nashville,” (edited:) Friday, Aug. 14 between 1-2pm on WSMV Channel 4. I’ll post a link when the archived video is available on their website.
Reminder: Homefront Book signing at Clarksville, TN’s Books-a-Million on Aug. 15, 1:30 -3:30pm. 125 S. Hampton Place.