Thursday, July 15, 2010

Random Memories of The Today Show

So, apparently, on Tuesday I was a guest on The Today Show:

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1. When I walked up to the studio, the guest entrance was besieged by awe-struck teenage girls. Were they waiting for me? Er, no, they were there for a supernaturally handsome dude I later learned was Peter Facinelli, one of the stars of The Twilight Saga: Eclipse:

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Peter and I were ushered into the studio together; he gave me the once-over to make sure I wasn't somebody famous, and then ignored me. That's OK, because I didn't recognize him either, and I would rather gouge out my own eyes than watch The Twilight Saga.

2. Did you know that The Today Show allows same-sex couples to compete in its "Modern Wedding Contest"? Thank you, Today Show.

3. I got my hair and makeup done -- and my blazer vacuumed (?!) -- then hung out in the guest lounge with the producer Josh and Stacy Kaiser, who seemed very smart and nice -- and who looks normal in real life and great on TV, which strikes me as unjust given that I look like a dork both in real life and on TV. I also chatted with the husband of the foot doctor who went on after me and Stacy. He was interested in the anthology I co-edited, Are We Born Racist?, which Beacon Press is publishing next month. He turned out to be a big, big fan of musical theater and suggested that "Carefully Taught" from South Pacific become the theme song of the book:

Why not? Henceforth, I declare "You've Got to be Carefully Taught" to be the theme song of Are We Born Racist?!

4. In the lounge, I watched coverage of the not-funny domestic abuse saga I shall call The Mel Gibson Saga: Idiot. Let it be noted that he disgusts me, and I would rather gouge out my own eyes than watch anything with him in it. Except for Mad Max and The Road Warrior, which are classics. Also, the first Lethal Weapon is kind of funny, if you happen to be as wasted as I was when I watched it in college. It was Gibson's mullet. The mullet made me lose it.

5. I liked the segment of Lance and his family that preceded my interview, which I watched in the lounge; he and his wife are really the stars of this show, and I'm not sure why Stacy and I were necessary, though I'm happy enough to chat about my book with any national TV audience. (Because I've become a media whore?) The night before, I'd had dinner with Lance and Matt and Patrick of NYC Dads. What a great bunch of guys and what great work they're doing.

6. I was dismayed that Willie Geist was filling in for Kathie Lee -- because, come on, it's Kathie Lee! -- but Willie seemed like an amiable fella. In person, Hoda came off as bigger than life.

7. I was quite sick that day, and the interview itself was a blur. I recall being disappointed by the questions; I remember Willie looking pretty uncomfortable when I rejected the idea that stigma defines stay-at-home dads and when I brought up paternity leave. (Thought-ballon I imagined over his head: "Crap, he's not going to get political, is he? I thought this was supposed to be about stay-at-home dads!")

8. I'm pasting in the code for the clip without having actually watched the clip--and I don't plan on ever watching it, truth be told. I can't stand to see myself on TV.

9. Apparently, Liko can't stand to see me on TV either. Since we don't have a TV at home, he and my wife and my mother went to a diner with a big flat screen on 24th St. to watch the show. About two minutes in, Liko finished his breakfast, sighed heavily, and said, "Can I go home now?"

That's exactly how I felt! That's my boy!


chicago pop said...

Nice job space-walking in the parallel universe of non-euclidean geometry and worm-hole physics known as morning/day-time TV.

Yay for the rejection of stigma!

Beta Dad said...

Don't worry--you didn't look like a dork. You were very poised and made some excellent points.

I agree that the "stigma" is quickly fading as most people, even those with conservative ideas about gender roles, realize that economics trump tradition.

Regarding your comment that SAHDs are not alone on the playground--that there are other guys out there to hang with: I think it's equally important to realize that dads can be friends with moms too. The danger of infidelity and intrigue a la "Little Children" notwithstanding, I don't really see the need for segregating playgrounds, playgroups, etc. by gender.

Jeremy Adam Smith said...

@Beta Dad: Absolutely agree that dads should befriend moms and vice versa; I also think the apartheid is pointless, and personally didn't feel much of a need for a dad-centered social life.

That said, I know most guys start their parental social life by looking out for other guys; oftentimes, this provides a base from which they can build. Bottom line is to get yourself a gang of people you like, to provide some help and companionship.

chicago pop said...

@ Beta Dad: I'm with you in that I don't see the need for segregating playgrounds by gender either. I just think there's a little problem in that moms tends to me more sensitive, more preoccupied, with that "danger of infidelity" thing.

In fact, based on my experience so far, I think the playground moms are, in general, fairly neurotic about it. Left to their own devices they don't know how to deal with random outlier stay at home dads, and so they'd just rather not because it's easier not to disrupt the routines of time immemorial, however progressive their overt ideologies. Because if they are too friendly with unaccompanied dads, you know, it will make everyone think that we want to have sex or that maybe we already have. So it sort of behooves us (me) to be as neutral and as reassuring as possible to playground moms that no, it is not my intention to try to have sex with you.

Sorry, this topic is the one aspect of my SAHD, SAHD life that pisses me off. In fact, I may have to write another post about it.

Come on, ladies. Stop reading your Updike or racy columns on about women who read too much Updike. Everyone's gonna keep their pants on like grown ups and it will all be just dandy!

Anonymous said...

This term stay-at-home dads strikes me as reinforcing the prejudices.

Embedded in the phrase is the assumption that it's unusual. And that somehow a full-time dad has been benched.

I propose full-time parent.

chicago pop said...

"Full time parent." I'll take it!

Jack Steiner said...

That idiot Mel destroyed my ability to watch his movies. Used to like a few of them.

Beta Dad said...


Yeah--"stay-at-home" sounds like a punishment or quarantine. But "full time parent" sounds a little self-righteous. I can't think of any connotation-free labels.

Chip said...

you did a great job Jeremy! (Just got to watch it now) The interviewers were pretty bad, and I wasn't thrilled with Stacy, she just seemed to very confidently and assertively reinforce all the stereotypes based, it seems, on outdated info. I'm glad you were there to at least shed some actual experience light on the topic. Congrats!

chicago pop said...

@ Beta-

True, these things all come with linguistic baggage, but for my money there's no way to go but up from an acronym that's also a synonym for "depressed." I've been saying "full-time dad" lately because it feels like the most objective description, and seems to conceptually set itself in contrast to "working mom" in a way that makes sense to people. Going further and saying "full-time parent" has the added benefit implying that either gender can be plugged into that slot.

Semantics, I know. :)