Inside the Bubble ~ My Date with Oprah in New York City

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More than just daytime drama


Oprah WinfreyMy air conditioner buzzed melodically on this hot, hazy and humid day in New York City as I lay content in bed under my cool sheets, drifting lazily in and out of dream mode.  All of this aligned peace would be interrupted at precisely three a.m., this, the 10th of September, when my clock radio blasted Beyonce’s irresistible “Irreplaceable.”  My eyelids fluttered at the sound, and I thought, half-consciously, ‘Who would dare invoke this kind of cruelty?’  It was only then that my mood changed and I remembered why I volunteered to wake from slumber before the sun had yet to even rise: I had a date with Oprah Winfrey to kick-off the 22nd season of her famed chat fest!

Yes, people, the one and only Ms. Winfrey.  She being the goddess who garnered so many Daytime Emmys for her self-titled talk show that she graciously bowed out of competition in 1999.  The philanthropist who gave – and continues to give- to nameless charities as she continued to upstart her signature Angel Network before founding her crowning achievement earlier this year:  The Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa. The same lovely lady who treats all of her guests – from humanitarian Elie Wiesel to the overworked public educator – with a respect and intelligence that appears foreign to other moderators. The woman, now a legend, serves as our country’s moral compass and whose advocacy can alter the lives of millions.

Simply put: Winfrey is F-A-B-U-L-O-U-S!

So I stretched my body, grabbed a quick cup of coffee, fell into the brightly-colored outfit that I had picked out two weeks earlier (these shades had been suggested to me by Ms. Winfrey’s peeps!) and made my way toward the platform to await the fine public transportation provided to me by New Jersey Transit that would take me into the city that I’ve roamed since I was six-years-old to meet my new best friend.

As I walked toward Madison Square Garden’s WaMu Theatre, I soon realized that I was going to have to share Oprah with 4,999 of her other close friends. The following hit me at about 5:20 a.m.:

1) My hair would definitely frizz in this humidity, the kind that only New York can produce  
2)  I should have brought water since it looked like I would be in the middle of this long,
zigzagged line for some time to come
3)  It is quite plausible that I might engage in a physical altercation with the lady in front of me if she mentions her au pair one more time
4)  I am not going to get within ten feet of Winfrey considering that the crowd began to form at midnight

Braced with these cold, hard facts I took comfort in the knowledge that at the very least I was able to obtain tickets for the morning taping and I would breathe in the same air as Winfrey.  Fast forward to three hours later, two security checkpoints, and five more references to an au pair and I was finally in my seat…section 300.  Apparently, section 300 is the best you can hope to get even though you arrived two hours before the call-time and four hours from show time.

Then the announcement of the rules:  No autographs from Oprah; no pictures with Oprah; no asking Oprah for a job or to pay your bills, etc.  Understandable, to moi, although the woman next to me found this request to be totally unreasonable.

Alas, there was no bitterness the minute Oprah Winfrey stepped out onto the stage and greeted all of her friends with “Good morning, New York City!”  She looked serendipitous, dressed all in black, her wavy hair down past her shoulders, makeup perfectly applied.  We roared and cheered as she attempted to glide the giddy hysteria to a lull.  Winfrey commanded silence and for the first time in a long while New Yorkers listened without having to be told twice.

Late Show’s David Letterman was the main guest and he and Winfrey created an instant rapport. He was flirtatious and witty. Winfrey was charming and warm.  Lisa Marie Presley followed with the re-mastered track “In the Ghetto,” originally sung by her father, Elvis, and now shared as a duet between she and the King of Rock N’ Roll.

The entire experience, well, once Winfrey emerged, moved so quickly it almost seemed as if it was a dream.  After having wrapped, the glorious one sauntered on the stage for an additional fifteen extra minutes to talk with the crowd and thank everyone for their support before the start of her afternoon taping.  Then, she was gone.  

As I returned outside to a mist of rain and the cacophonous wailing of the taxis’ horns, all I could do was smile.  I may not have had actual physical contact with a woman I consider a hero, but I did share the same physical space as she did and I’m almost certain she noticed my wave out there in section 300.

Ms. Winfrey and I will have to schedule lunch for another day… perhaps when I finally do make the time to fly to Chicago and gain access to a taping at her own Harpo Studios.  

‘Till then, Oprah…. Thanks!