Our mother Jeanne has an intense emotional relationship with her TV. Not only with the shows she watches, but the instrument itself. (She once called me shrieking because she couldn’t find HGTV on her flat screen. It was Wiggles who told her that she’d love COLOR SPLASH but it was me she called in a froth. “If I have HDTV why can’t I find HDTV?” she wailed furiously.
“MAH!” I responded. “You have an HDTV set but you are looking for a channel called HGTV!” The distinction was lost on her. After 10 screaming minutes I guided her into finding HGTV. Now all she talks about is HOLMES ON HOMES. Like she knows him. After we hung up, Himself stood in the doorway. “What was that about? he asked. “Did Jeanne need something?” The understatement of the decade.)
But I digress.
From time to time, I do PR for my job, and sometimes that PR includes appearing on TV shows like TODAY. Whenever I’m on, I make sure to call Jeanne with a precise air time so she knows when to watch. Then just as we hang up I add a quick, “Channel 4!” or whatever channel is appropriate. (Believe me, after the HGTV debacle, sometimes I just say to her, “What’s up on Channel 220?” to kick off the convo.)
So last Wednesday night, I did my usual notification routine, and then went to work after the appearance. I found it unusual that when I called Jeanne from the office there was no answer. I called her again a few hours later and she picked up the phone. She was full of friendly chit-chat, but after about 5 minutes, I said, “Did you watch?”
Silence. Then a small, “Daddy saw it!”
“That’s good. Did you see it?”
“No. I was in the bathroom.”
“But Mah, didn’t Daddy call you when I came on?”
“No, he didn’t. And I don’t know why! I was just in the bathroom!”
This was rich. Though Bob doesn’t speak much, he does communicate when he wants to. For instance, he manages to call for my mother every 5 minutes of every day with requests for ice cream, Coke, help to the bathroom, and his favorite croak of all: “Call 911.” But somehow, he was quiet as a mouse while I was on with Hoda and Kathie Lee. And even though I told Jeanne exactly what time I’d be on, she managed to be doing her thing in the bathroom while I was doing my thing ON NATIONAL TV.
“I turned the TV on at 8am so I’d be ready!” she continued.
“But I told you I’d be on at 10!”
“So how was it?” she said, deftly trying to change the subject. “Did you look gorgeous? I bet you did!”
“Yeah, yeah, gorgeous,” I said.
I was miffed at Jeanne, I have to admit. But then I got over it. At least she hadn’t completely forgotten I was on TV (though that has happened, too.) And to her, I could have gone on in a gorilla suit with an eye twitch and she would have thought I did great.
I think the next time I’m on TV, I’ll just turn to the camera and say, “MAH! I see you! I’m glad you’re watching! Call you later!” Jeanne would love that.