My TV show ended after three summers, but its effects are still with me today–and I\’m not talking about being cured forever of the fear of public speaking.
Here\’s what happened. After my mother had signed me up to do the show, and after I\’d been to the studio for my fifteen minutes of instruction, my mother notified me of another commitment she had made on my behalf. The studio was giving a party for the crew. Apparently, one of the crew had cast his eye on me during my visit to the set, and had asked my mother if he could take me to the party as his date. And my mother had given her consent.
I was outraged. This was America in the 1960s, not some god-forsaken third world country where women were traded for camels, I yelled. Why should I go anywhere with a guy who didn\’t have the nerve to ask me out himself? But my mother was implacable. She had told the guy he could take me to the party, and to the party I would go.
Alas, I\’d been brought up as a good Catholic girl, taught to honor my father and mother, so, gritting my teeth, I got ready and waited for my date to pick me up. He could not have been more pathetic. He was short and skinny, dressed in baggy shorts and a red football jersey that came almost to his knees. His hair was thinning already, and he wore a smirk on his face. I detested him on sight, not because of his looks, but because of his cowardice.
With every cell in my body screaming \”let me out of here!\” I got into his car. We drove in silence for what seemed like hours. At the party, which was held outdoors, the director introduced me to the crew I would be working with. I was sitting in the semi-darkness, trying to stay away from my date, when a voice said, \”here\’s one you haven\’t met yet.\”
I remember looking up and half seeing someone tall and broad shouldered bending towards me. We shook hands and every one of my formerly screaming cells became instantly alert. I scanned the environs. There was a pale blonde hanging about–his date–but that did not worry me. What did concern me was hearing that he would only be working my first show (he was a cameraman), as he was leaving the job to attend summer school.
I need not have worried. After the first show, he took to dropping by the studio when I was there. Soon he asked me (not my mother!) for a date.
The last programs of my third summer on TV had to be videotaped in advance, so that my cameraman and I could go on our honeymoon.
And to this day, my mother takes credit for the whole thing.