Did you miss Wednesdays with This Square Peg? Here’s a mea culpa for my absence:
Liev Schreiber has eyes that will find their ways into your soul. He also has a voice that will drive you slightly crazy. He’s also immensely talented, with a quiet, still intensity that always captures my attention when he’s onscreen. He can also wear a suit. Goodness.
What an introduction. Let’s get right to it: when Her Excellency was was still on the air with her daily talk show, I won tickets to be part of her audience.
Back in 2011, I remember going on the official website for the show and noticing one of the upcoming episodes. The theme of the impending show was going to be all about best friends. (Title: An Oprah & Gayle Kind of Friendship) Made sense, given the longtime friendship between Madame O and her bestie, Gayle King. The requirement to be part of the audience was to write and send in an essay about your best friend and why he/she was wonderful. That was a no-brainer. I’ve discussed my bestie on TSP more than once. She.Is.Everything. And so I got to writing. Looking back, I submitted the essay with only a small twinge of excitement, being that 1) I was probably 1 of a million people doing the same thing, and 2) I didn’t want that level of disappointment if I didn’t get chosen.
Then I received an email on March 23, 2011. Yes, I searched my inbox for that date. And yes, I’m giddy that the email still exists. Bottom line, the main idea of the email: my bestie and I were invited to join the audience during a taping of the themed episode.
I reacted a bit like this:
So at this point, dear reader, my bestie didn’t know I had done any of this. I kept it all to myself in case we didn’t get chosen. Welp, that didn’t happen. After receiving that email, I called her and engaged in the following conversation:
Me: Hey, are you free on April 11?
Her: Let me check…yes, I’m free. What’s up?
Me: We’re flying to Chicago that day to be part of the audience of the Oprah show.
Me: Are you there?
Her (whispers): This better not be a prank.
Me: It’s not! I wrote an essay and they picked it and it was about you and me and our friendship and we’re going to see Oprahhhhhhhhhh!
Her reactions, from 1-3:
Needless to say, by the time we got to three, we were both primal screaming on the phone. Flight plans to Chicago were made; outfits were discussed (we had been asked by Queen O’s team to wear colorful clothes that would show well on TV); mild disappointment was expressed because a giant rule was that no pictures were allowed inside the Harpo studios; and finally, more primal screams were shared. You guys, it was one of the best experiences of this life. And you know how Empress Oprah’s audience would go mad? I admired her, yes, but I just couldn’t understand the mania these women showed on national TV. Well, I can easily say that on that morning in April, as Oprah was introduced and walked out and waved at us and smiled: I. Get. It. I truly do.
Her presence: dynamic. Her personality: open and charming. Her overall nature: amazing. In the minutes between her walking out and sitting down before the cameras turned on, there was no change. She was the same onscreen and off-screen. She was also just fun. During commercial breaks, she joked and laughed and told us about her painful high heels…it was surreal. My bestie and I spent the entire time just like holding each other in disbelief and Oprah-generated joy. And yeah, we got some gifts, too. And food. It was incredible. I’ll say it again, and in French: incroyable.
But the best part of that whole thrilling experience, dear reader? It involved a years-long, amazing friendship with one amazing lady, that being my bestie, and it involved another love of my life: my writing. My bestie kept saying the following throughout the day. “You are a writer. It was your words that got us here. You are a writer.” It was definitely a boost in confidence with the mighty pen. Nevertheless, the topic at hand, why this woman was such an indescribable presence in my life, made it easy. I didn’t hesitate. The benefits of a worthy subject.
Got any thrilling moments with your bestie that you’d like to share with me? Don’t fret because Oprah isn’t involved in any of them. The comments await you below…
You may have seen him in 42, or Get on Up, or the latest rendering of Captain America, or the recently released trailer for Black Panther, which gave you, me, and everyone currently living enough life to last for more life. I mean…
I chose the photo above because I think it exemplifies, above all, why Chadwick is everything: he loves National Public Radio. He loves NPR. I mean…
He’s talented and awesome and a superhero and a supporter of public radio and…
Let’s end there, shall we? See you in the movie theater in 2018.
I’ve heard it most of my life. And if you have a resting fierce face like me, you’ve heard it, too. Strangers, random folks–they all seem to take pleasure in viewing our stony features and commanding us to break into grins. Like me, do you want to push said people over to the ground when they issue this command?
The first time I heard it was from my mother. I was in my mid-twenties and she asked me if I walk around with “that face” when I’m in public. She followed that question with another query about why I look so “fierce.” I remember kind of backing away slowly, not wanting to elaborate as to why I didn’t see the need to walk around smiling all the time. But she’s my mother. She can speak her peace and even if I didn’t/don’t heartily agree, I surely wasn’t going to push her over. (She’s really strong, y’all.) But random folks? Nah, man. You don’t get to issue me commands. You don’t get to direct what I do with my features. I once had a homeless guy command me, as I walked down the sidewalk, to smile. As much as I wanted to push him over, he had other problems he needed to attend to.
What incites folks to issue this command? (Oh, and no, it’s not a suggestion. It’s a
command. If it was a suggestion, I would hear something like, “You have such a lovely smile. Why don’t you show it more?” I would still side eye them, because, again, it’s my face and I don’t need no stinking suggestions about it but the need to push said speaker over would be slightly diminished.) Why is it so important that I bare my teeth to the world? I mean, it’s awesome to seem approachable, and perhaps a smile communicates that, but the assumption that I’m not because I largely walk around in my daily life without one is a bit ridiculous to me. Or how about I choose what expressions I want on my face? How about that?
A few weeks ago, gymnast and all around amazing woman Simone Biles performed a routine for Dancing with the Stars. During the judging, she was asked by one of the hosts, Tom Bergeron, why she wasn’t smiling when the judges were praising her performance. Simone’s response:
Because can she live? Can she choose when or whether to smile, Tom Bergeron? (I’ll never forget when one of my uncles, while we watched Tom host some other show, remarked that he looked like he had bad breath. This comment exemplifies why my African people will always get the win, the zinger, all of it.) Anyway, social media praised her retort into infinity. Women praised her into infinity.
Because most women hear this smile command, typically from men.
Yeah. You agree with me.
And we could talk for hours about how that gets under a woman’s skin, being told by a male stranger to do something with her features that he has no right to tell her to do, but dear lady, we don’t have a million hours. You agree with me. I’ll leave it there. For now.
So, no, I won’t smile on command, and unless you gave birth to me, you don’t get to tell me or my face what to do.
It’s been a while since we discussed Wednesday lovelies. Here’s one for your consideration.
You know how I feel about him. I discussed his blueprint status here. Before my dear Idris, it was him. It’s still him. You know how you’ll never forget your fourth-grade crush even though you’re now in college and your current “true love” plays football and loves Shakespearean sonnets? It’s like that. Anyway, the photo above is from January, when Brad came on stage as a surprise presenter for the Golden Globes, and the audience went nuts. Here’s Matt Damon’s reaction from that moment.
Look at Matt. Look at the smiles of the people around him. See the applause. Can you hear the applause?
That’s what he does, y’all. That’s the Brad Pitt je ne sais quoi.
Since L.A. Law, when I watched law shows and believed I had a future as an attorney based on what I saw in televised courtrooms.
Anyway, that’s how long I’ve given my endless devotion to Sir Chocolate himself, a.k.a. Blair Underwood. Oh and he’s 52. And doesn’t look a day over 35. Yep: totally Benjamin Buttoning it. And I don’t mind. That melanin though…