The audience is prepped and buzzing. The producer counts down with his fingers as the Blog Band kicks into the infectious Blog Theme. The applause sign flashes and the crowd celebrates on cue. The announcer begins, stretching his words like a heavyweight bout.
“Welcome to the newwww season of (long pause) The SELF SHOW!” The show’s familiar intro clips flash across the monitors hung in high definition panorama above the audience. The SELF SHOW logo produces a crescendo.
Self steps out from behind the curtains and walks slowly to the center of the stage, nodding and pointing at crew members, saluting the colorful and ever smiling Blog Band leader, waving to the neglected left and right sides of the venue.
A small but slightly suspicious group conspicuously clad in t-shirts that say THE SELFIES! chant loudly to increase the din and bring a small amount of ego-boosting attention to themselves. “Self, Self, Self!”
They receive a slightly embarrassed but mischievous grin from the host. The boom camera swings overhead to reward them with a temporary taste of televised glory.
After pretending to calm the crowd while surreptitiously milking the applause for all it’s worth, the music stops and the host does two minutes of prime time comedy before introducing the first guest. The crowd settles back to wait out this segment, knowing that it’s merely the opening act to the headliner that will appear last.
A dressed-down, bearded and slightly rumpled version of Self steps tentatively from behind the curtain. He gives an embarrassed nod to the crowd and slinks to the couch after a warm welcome from the obviously more talented host. He begins only after basking in the last second of applause.
“I’d like to welcome myself back to my own blog.”
“Thank you!. Thank you, Self. It’s been a long summer but I’m glad to be back. I don’t feel like myself when I’m not writing here.”
“So, where have you been? What interesting things have you been up to these days?”
“I’ve been dealing with things that I’d rather not talk about.” Stony silence ensues.
“Okay . . . that’s interesting . . . So, why are you here now? I mean, if you don’t want to talk about it, why are you back here bothering us?” He says this with a smile and the crowd titters at the self-deprecating humor.
“That’s a fair question, Self.” He sighed a little too deeply. He’d been sighing a lot lately. “It’s just that . . . some things are private.”
“Yes?” the veteran interviewer prodded, making a mental note never to have this guy back on the show again.
“You see, I’ve been dealing with my Mom.”
“Oh?” The host flashed a quick warning look that said don’t go there.
“Three years ago Mom had an allergic reaction to some medicine that brought on full-blown dementia.” The crowd went silent. The host blinked in a micro expression that said, You went there.
“That’s terrible,” he replied. Sympathetic Host appeared. He was no rookie. He hadn’t spent years dealing with rehabbing stars to let this Bozo blow a segment. He was a friend but ratings were ratings.
“She’s much better now but some problems remain. I’ve been running into more and more friends who are dealing with the same sort of issues. I’ve decided to write about it some.” The host waited for several beats of silence.
“Really?” he finally replied with a practiced look of concern on his face.
“On the blog.”
“Really?” he repeated. This guy was quickly rising to the top of his list of worst interviews ever. “So, you want to share some insights about things that helped you, how you’re managing to cope?”
“Well, some days I’m not sure I’m coping.” Crickets.
“Really?” Might as well be talking to a wall. He needs a jetpack to get out of the hole he’s digging. “So, what exactly is it that you want to write?”
“I want to share about the difficulties of dealing with the chronic illness of someone you love. To let people know that they aren’t alone. It’s a problem without a solution and a work in progress for me.”
“So, why now, after three years?” And on MY show he added mentally. Just give me a sound bite. Something I can work with.
“I didn’t want to talk about it because it’s family, it’s ongoing and very personal. And suddenly I realized it’s that way for everyone who faces the problem. It’s someone you love and you don’t want to speak ill of the sick, even though it’s difficult. It’s one of the hardest things I’ve done.”
“Mmm hmm.” But is it as hard as this interview? he thought, the smile never cracking.
“Since no one wants to talk about loved ones, that leaves people feeling alone. But they’re not alone. There are a lot of us out there.”
“And you’re going to write about it even though it risks opening the door to your family’s private life and embarrassing your own mother?” He could no longer hide his irritation. He had to get this guy off the air.
“I’m working on a way to do it privately on my website. Something that will let people share without internet gawkers coming by to stare and point.”
“But you don’t have this up and running yet?”
“No. I just wanted people to know my plans so they can be looking for it. I’ll put up more information soon on the blog.”
“Alright.” That’s all I’m going to get. This guy’s outta here. “Well, we’re out of time. We’ll be looking forward to hearing more about it.” But not on my show. “Thank’s for coming. Up next: a list about lists!” I’ve got to fire some writers. “Stay tuned folks. You won’t want to miss this!”
They shook hands for the crowd and the cameras, and kept up the charade for the crew until they walked out the back stage door.
“What the hell was that?” The host of his own internal dialog again lived up to the reputation of being relentlessly critical and never mincing words.
“I’m sorry. I just thought someone might need to hear it.”
“Well, next time you want to whine about your miserable life go to a therapist. I’ve got a show to do here. You were killing me out there.” He walked away with a scowl. “Killing me!”
“Sorry.” he said to the slamming door.
There was no limo to pick him up. He’d been kicked to the curb. He looked at the sky and sighed heavily.
“I’ve been reading too many novels,” he said.
The muffled band cranked back up inside. The On Air sign above the backstage door flashed. He climbed into an aging white Civic and drove away.