Oprah.

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.

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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:

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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.
Her: *crickets*
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:

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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 oprah6these 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…

The Value of Tough, Ouch-y Love.

I wrote the following essay last year and submitted it to HelloGiggles. Wasn’t published, but such is life. I’m proud of it all the same. Check it out below. Feel free to let me know what you think.

The Value of Tough, Ouch-y Love

Deep down, I knew it was coming.

As I informed the bestie that my latest crush’s peripheral staring of me was indisputable proof that he shared my feelings—because we all want a declaration of mutual interest by way of side-eye—I recognized the palpable silence on the other end of the phone. Why was this silence so telling? Wasn’t she just listening, waiting for me to finish? No. Our conversations are mostly endless gab and laugh fests, where silence rarely comes in. If she is quiet, it usually means (1) she’s watching the latest antics of the Kardashians and held rapt by Kris Jenner’s, uh, mothering skills, or (2) she doesn’t buy a word of what I’m saying. Since she was in the car and Kardashian-free, it was obviously the latter. Not surprisingly, upon finishing my diatribe, the bestie proceeded to very firmly tell me that I was not in my right mind.

But this brief missive isn’t completely about the fact that in the end, I realized she was right. Peripheral staring by the crush (which happened, like, two times, to be honest) and the other non-events in my little infatuation dance with him were basically meaningless and not indicative of anything. Overall, we’re discussing the benefits of about tough love, folks. The truth is, we all need an emotional shakedown every now and again from a bestie/mom/sister/brother/crazy aunt who has your best interests at heart. If you should get a dose of tough love and you feel a bit bruised and/or ready to never speak to that person in your life again, here are a few things to consider:

1. Some of your favorite films are about tough love. Think about every rom-com you’ve loved and have secretly watched more times than you’d care to admit. Right before the epiphany, before the protagonist is running through the airport and breezing by security to declare his/her feelings to his/her true love, there’s always a good friend (or a neat musical montage) to straighten them out and tell them what we viewers have known all along and the protagonist is denying: it’s love, dummy.

However, a notable mention is My Best Friend’s Wedding, a film that, at its core, is about tough love: the efforts of George (Rupert Everett) to convince his friend Jules (Julia Roberts) that her plan to get Michael (Dermot Mulroney) back is useless. To me, tough love was captured in one heartbreakingly real exchange. Feel free to read and weep, or I’ll just weep, and you read:

George: Michael’s chasing Kimmy?

Jules: Yes!

George: You’re chasing Michael?

Jules: Yes!

George: Who’s chasing you? Nobody, get it?

Weeping? Or just me?

2. It’s very easy to only focus on the “tough” part. How can we not? It hurts. And when something hurts, it’s very easy to focus on the person administering the pain. But it’s not called tough I-couldn’t-care-less. It’s tough love. My bestie very plainly informed me to move on. She was unflinching and not really that sympathetic. But she also concluded by saying, “I do love you and want someone to see you for your amazing wit, creativity, and intelligence. Oh and beautiful eyes and lips!” (Word for word. I saved that text message and will never delete it.) Underneath the tough was her wish for me to realize that when The One comes, the Real One, I will know. So after the sting, the love part comes and you’re all warm and fuzzy and saving awesome text messages from your very best friend in the world. Seriously!

3. Tough love, like time, waits for no one. Think about it: eventually, we figure things out in life. That guy is no good for me; I should stop eating sushi because I really am allergic; changing my major three or four times is not cool in my junior year. With time, we get it. But tough love gets you there faster. Best to slap that sashimi out of your hands now instead of racing you to the ER later, right? In other words, experience can be a teacher, yes, but tough love is like the college advisor who will quickly tell you to grow up and stop avoiding the Math credit already. (True story.) Most of our perceptive loved ones and friends would rather us avoid the inevitable and/or frightening outcome of some of the endless and questionable paths we choose to take, and that’s where the snap-out-it-will-you comes in. Experience doesn’t always have to be a teacher. We need it, believe me.

In the end, I’m thankful for my bestie’s intervention and I told her as much. You know the saying: when one dose of tough love is given and applied, two karaoke bars are saved from weepy, alcohol-soaked performances of Taylor Swift’s Trouble. You’re welcome, future audiences.

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Oh, George. (Rupert Everett, My Best Friend’s Wedding)

Photo Credit: http://www.tumblr.com/tagged/george%20downes