Just when I thought I'd dropped my last egg: Life and other calamities

Thursday, July 22, 2010
Kathie Lee Gifford

The title attracted me – not necessarily Kathie Lee Gifford. But I enjoyed this book. It’s a quick read, the chapters are short, (really essays, or blog entries) and she’s saltier than I expected – which I also enjoyed.
 In the introduction, Gifford writes that she finds the humor in tragedy and the underlying sadness in laughter. And in all of it there is hope. Among the wacky stories and odd-servations, there is serious fare; for example, she touches upon her husband's infidelity, the sweatshop scandal that plagued her in the 1990s and her father's death. She also writes about her children, religion and various creative pursuits. That's where the title comes in: while Gifford notes she is no longer fertile in terms of reproduction, she is Fertile Myrtle in terms of her creativity and productivity.
Too Pooped To Peak

Recently Frank co-hosted with me on the Today Show when Hoda took a much deserved day off.
 Now, it’s important to understand for the purpose of this essay that this is the way Frank and I met. We were colleagues at Good Morning America in 1982. Frank used to sit in for David Hartman when he was gone and I used to sit in for Joan Lunden when she was either gone or having babies, which was often.
 Later, when I joined The Morning Show with Regis, we continued this arrangement. But now it’s 2009 and much has changed, although there’s no need to discuss my weight.
 The point is, instead of being “two marshmallows sitting by the fire” as a Washington Post critic called us when we hosted the 1988 nighttime Olympics, we can now best be described as “two old farts lucky to be anywhere.”
 In fairness, Frank has only visited me at the Today Show twice in the year since I joined, and has never co-hosted with me, so he’s not familiar with the daily routine, even though I have warned him profusely:
 1. We arrive at 7:30 a.m. at my dressing room
 2. We then proceed to hair and make-up
 3. At 8:15 a.m. we have a production meeting with the producers to go over the topics we all agree should be discussed during our Host Chat at the top of the 10 a.m. hour
 4. At 9 a.m. we return to the dressing room to dress for the show.
 5. At 9:45 a.m. we get our microphones and proceed to the studio

Well, we did steps 1 and 2 perfectly. In fact, I thought at the time that we had done step 3 perfectly too. It wasn’t until we arrived back at my dressing room and Frank began reading production notes, laughing and commenting on them, that I realized Frank had had no idea that the production meeting was for him, too. That is when I started sweating profusely. But I needn’t have worried. After all, Frank is an old pro and very comfortable in front of the camera. But this was different. This was us in front of the camera and America likes nothing better than a good marital train wreck. Well, the one thing that’s for sure about live television is that it starts when it’s supposed to whether you’re ready or not. Everyone agreed Frank looked adorable as we sat down. At 78, he still fills a pair of tight jeans better than any other tight end in history. And his crisp white shirt and blue blazer basically bellowed, “that’s right, I’m hip and I’m happening.”
 We began discussing Michael Phelps, the great Olympic swimmer, and the recent brouhaha over the published picture of him at the unfortunate end of a marijuana bong. Frank made some insightful comments about the temptations young world class athletes have to deal with. Then I asked him, “You’ve always told me that there is an optimum peak in an athlete’s career... what did you tell me it is? 26?”
 “Yeah,” Frank answered. “26 to 30. That’s when everything comes together physically, athletically, and psychologically. That’s basically when an athlete’s at his peak.”

Well, I couldn’t help myself.
 “You mean I missed your peak?”
 (The crew began to chuckle which is always an excellent sign that I’m on to something.)
 Frank blushed, “Well...”
 I interrupted, “I mean it sure looked like a peak... sure felt like a peak. What the hell was it?”
 “You are so bad,” Frank sighed, shaking his head in resignation.

I couldn’t agree with him more.
 P.S. I can’t tell you how many people have commented to Frank about his “peak” since that fateful day. Way too many told him that they had personally witnessed his peak many, many times. I thought that was funny. But it was the many others who told him, “Don’t worry, Frank, you missed Kathie’s too.” That really made us laugh. Sadly, laughing is all old farts are left with.

Diane, Administration

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