Despite my earlier boasts of confidence and braggadocio, I arrived at NHPR a complete and utter nervous disaster. In my jubilation at having won a spot on the radio to promote In Search of #6, I overlooked one valuable piece of advice that I will now share with you: never tell anyone you are going to be on the radio. It is much too stressful.
One begins thinking about what one could say that might be funny, and how one could phrase certain delicate matters and, after the taping has occurred, one further thinks about what one could have said better and how one had let down everyone who was rooting for one’s cause. Furthermore, the pre-recorded nature of a taped show allows for the show’s producers, in their wisdom, to move the show from day to day and one may seem to not possess the slightest clue as to the actual date and time the show will be aired (which is, in fact, the truth).
Inside the NHPR building, however, I found that my nervousness melted away and I became overly-relaxed. I think it came from watching the woman who was doing the intros and outros and station notification for New Hampshire Public Radio in her little glass box. I could not hear her, from the studio I was in, but I tried to read her lips through an enormous window. She sat, back straight, eyes focused, with hands that flittered and flipped across papers and levers and buttons, and that wrung themselves silly whenever her lips began moving. She looked at me, once, and I winked at her and then she started to smile and laugh and then, I think, she forgot that there were some other buttons she had meant to push and a horrified look shot over her face and she began striking at the flashing lights and cursing me under her breath.
After meeting Shay Zellar (the radio star) and Andrew (the producer) we futzed around a bit finding appropriately humiliating audio clips to use during the interview. Specifically, those that described Ben and my Heterosexual Life Partnership, my pathetic moaning over climbing long hills, and my lamentation over trying to find a kiss on a bike trip.
And then: the interview began so very quickly I had hardly a moment to think about it before I was being welcomed to The Front Porch and replying, foolishly: “It’s a pleasure to be here; thank you for having me.”
What I had meant to say, of course, was: “Well it is about time someone recognized the genius of my work — you are only the best of the worst, I must say, for having taken this long. You ought to be ashamed!”
Then there were a number of questions about how the idea for the story came about, what exactly happened on the trip, how #6 and Ben felt about being verbally trampled upon and thrown into the cult-limelight of podcasting, and whether or not they would ever speak to me again after the interview. I stuttered, through most of it, failing to string together any meaningful or amusing thoughts and, instead, made inappropriate commentary about how I really wished I had found #6 in San Francisco (to make the story arc flow better), how Ben refuses to listen to the audiobook for fear of what I might say (rightly so), and how fortunate many of my friends are to not be able to hear my interview. I later regretted saying many of these things and would like to apologize in advance for your disapproval: it was the nerves.
Needless to say: it went very well.
And then it was over and I was whisked out the door shaking hands and patting backs and Donald Hall, that Poet Laureate of ill-repute, was most likely ushered in and they forgot all about me and I was left to go back to my car and to begin reviewing how I could have said everything so much better if I had only had a second chance.
What was very pleasant about this whole experience, however, was the excitement and support everyone has shown over the entire radio interview and the feeling that, even for a moment, I had done something that someone else appreciated and enjoyed. Despite having never heard the interview, and not even being sure when it will be aired, numerous people have placed a sense of great accomplishment on this feat, and it makes me feel very special.
Now before I get teary-eyed, start sending out Hallmark cards, and whip up some blueberry muffins for the girl scout bake sale, I would like to close this gush-fest by relaying one of the nicest comments that came from a person who actually had to listen to the entire podcast: Shay Zellar (the radio star). She told me that she laughed aloud while listening to the memoir and was looking forward to hearing the end. This, of course, came as a surprise to me because, secretly, I believe that In Search of #6 will only appeal to myself and Ben. However, she seemed to like it quite a lot and laughed (in the reserved way that NPR hosts are allowed to laugh) when I spoke of amusing anecdotes or we listened to the audio clips together. And when I was leaving, the last things she said to me, was:
“You write like a less-dysfunctional, or maybe: more-functional, heterosexual David Sedaris.”
Which I believe to be a compliment.