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15 minutes of fame
Will you get your 15 minutes?
I have heard it said that everyone will eventually have 15 minutes of fame. It never occurred to me as I was watching one of those afternoon TV talk shows that one day I would make my presence known on the stage. I watched the people, some of the shows seemed entirely too outrageous, people fighting and yelling at each other. How could they do that? Some of the shows gave the impression that they were there to help out those who were in need. It was one of those shows that was suggested to me by a good friend, she insisted that I give them a call. She new what I was going thru with my teenage daughter, it would be just the thing we needed to set her right.
Rather than call, I did an online application giving as much detail as was possible in the little box that was provided. Within 3 days I received a phone call from the show. They asked me a few questions, I gave the best answers that I could. It was my daughter they wanted to speak with next, and she was instructed to go to a room in the house where I couldn’t interfere. I looked at it this way, if doing back flips in my back yard would help out my daughter, then watch out world, cause back flips would be on my agenda.
Whatever my daughter said, must have convinced them that she would be an appropriate candidate for a Talk Show. They got me back on the phone to make arrangements, they asked me a few questions, one of them being did I have any black teeth. Well, I embarrassingly admitted I did have one tooth, to the side, that had long since died. Due to circumstances beyond my control, I had been unable to have this tooth fixed. Not a problem they assured me, it would be taken care of by their Dentist. Well, ‘isn’t that something’ I thought, they care enough about us to look after our teeth. My bubble of comfort was quickly burst, it was explained that black teeth show up badly on television. Oh, well I guess appearances must be everything in television.
It was explained to me that we would leave the next afternoon, that didn’t have much time for planning. The next morning I realized that I had an appointment that could not be missed, on the following day. I called the number they gave me to tell them I couldn’t make the flight. They were quite upset with me and felt that I was lying. I explained that it was a court appointment and could not be changed. They wanted to know if I could provide proof, well I could but why? We didn’t have a contract, just an over the phone verbal agreement. I was repeatedly reminded that I was not going to be paid for appearing on the show, but my food expenses would be covered once I reached my destination. I wasn’t going on the show to make money, I was going for the help they said they would supply. They explained to me that taping was done on Thursdays, so they needed me there on that day. My appointment was on a Wednesday, I could leave right after the appointment.
The Big City
Arrival and excitement
I have to admit here that I was a little excited, I was going to fly on an airplane, something I had never done, so yes the thrill was there. I was also going to New York City, some place my daughter had always wanted to see. Maybe this would be a good bonding time for us, and I had the highest hopes that help would be provided for my wayward daughter.
At the designated time a Limousine arrived to pick us up, we had one stop to make, pick up my other daughter from school, make our appointment and off we would go. My son met us at the courthouse to take my other daughter home. The daughter, the one who was not going had told her friends what was happening, a few friends knew what I was doing and of course family had been informed. My youngest daughter was thrilled that we were going to be on her favorite show, that channel was tuned in every day at 4pm, when she got home from school. We left with the promise that we would get an autograph from the host, he was her favorite person in the whole world, he helped kids.
I am not an individual who seeks to be in the limelight, I’d much rather be in the background observing, but my daughter’s well being was utmost in my mind. I was doing everything humanly possible to help her over come her bad behavior.
We arrived at out hotel at 11 pm with a nice fruit basket in our room and instructions in an envelope. We were to be picked up at 7 am, so we needed to be prepared. We were to wear the clothes we brought for the show because there was no going back to the hotel once we left. We would be brought back to our hotel after the taping of the show, and be returned to the airport the next day.
The Big Day
My daughter and I were quickly separated, I was off to the dentist, she was ushered away from me, by a person who had on a head-set, with the assurance “We’ll take good care of her”. We both looked into each others eyes, mine had fear, hers had excitement. I had to trust that my daughter would be well taken care of. It went against the grain of everything I knew, to let her out of my site. If I didn’t keep a close eye on her, anything could happen after all we were in once the largest cities in the world.
The visit at the Dentist went fairly well, he explained to me that on occasion he opened his office early for this TV show. His office person had not arrived so it was just him and I. He took the x-ray and did his best to fix my tooth for the TV, he said it was only going to be a temporary fix the tooth was too far gone. He wouldn’t remove it because it would look too bad on television. I’d have to see my own dentist for that.
I was driven back to where the show was, and led through the building. I was disappointed in what I was seeing, the paint was peeling, floors were cracked, it looked quite dismal, couldn’t they afford paint or new flooring? People were standing in a line, I asked what was going on, I was told they were waiting in line to see the show. Many were what I would consider street people, they had their clothes piled on top of themselves, and holding what looked like all of their possessions. I heard someone yell out “What time is lunch served?” Another responded “They’ll send in pizza at 11”. I thought this was a show, not a lunch line, now I was suffering a little bit of the ‘nerves’
I wanted to see my daughter. It was explained to me that I would see her later as I was escorted to what I was to find out was called ‘The green room’. There were other people in this room, I soon found out they were the mothers of other girls who were to appear on the show. A lady came up to me, introduced herself as the one with whom I had spoken to on the phone. She took me into another room where we could speak privately. As soon as I started to explain what had been happening in the life of my daughter, the tears started to flow, I was a wreck. I opened up and told her everything, the drinking, the stealing of my car, the drugs, and boys, how I really needed help with this rebellious child of mine. She promised me they would do everything they could to help us. I felt some relief, we were going to get help, there was hope for her yet.
We sat for hours in this room, these parents and I, talking about our daughters and their different behaviors. Some were horrendous, it made me glad that I only had what I was dealing with. One of the moms I was to find out, she made what she called “The circuit’, meaning that this was not her first time on a talk show, she liked doing this. We discovered from talking that one of the mothers lived in a neighboring town. They had arrived the day before and had a nice time shopping and taking a tour of the town with each other. Everyone seemed quite jovial, I was just sad.
There was a hair and make-up person brought in, to get us ready. I looked a little different from what I considered ‘normal’. When everyone was ’made up’, we were led to yet another room which was ‘sound proof’. The producer looked at my clothing, I was dressed in black. I like black, black makes me comfortable, black is all I own. I can hide in the corner when I am in black and no one will see me. They made me change clothes, one of the other guests had some extra blouses that I could choose from. I wondered how many outfits did she bring. They made me wear beige pants and an orange blouse. At that point I was the most uncomfortable I had ever been in my life. I was wearing someone else’s clothes, in a strange town, about to admit to the world that I had a ‘badly behaved’ daughter, I wanted to go home, and all I could do was cry.
I mentioned to one of the other mothers that I wanted to go home, that I had changed my mind, I no longer wanted to do the show. She told me that if I left I would be charged the plane fare, and the cost of the hotel. Fantastic. I couldn’t afford to go to the Dentist, how could I possibly afford plane fare? I guess there was no hope, I had to go on. I think at that time I understood the phrase “The Show must go on.” A microphone was attached to me, it was almost my time.
I was the third one to be called in. The host shook my hand, I got a round of applause as I entered the stage. I looked around, the ‘derelicts’ that I had seen standing in line were sitting in the audience. There were a few people that were nicely dressed, they were stationed right in the center. My ‘producer’ was crouched on the floor behind the cameras with very large pieces of poster board. I was to find out these were cue cards. As the host started asking me questions he had his own cue cards, mine were held up. I suppose they didn’t want me forgetting my ‘lines’. Like I could. I’d lived it for months now.
Things are not always what they seem
When the host asked me the questions on his cue cards, I started crying yet again. I managed to cry during the whole interview, I could not stop. I must have went through ½ box of tissues while on stage. I sat there with a handful of used tissues all wadded up, there was no place to put them. Pictures of my beautiful daughter were put up on the screen of when she was a sweet, untroubled little girl. The audience ’ood and ahhd’ at her sweet face. The time came when my daughter’s name was called. Prior to her coming on the stage I was forced to watch her interview that had been taped. It was not a pretty site, she didn’t look like my daughter, she had her hair different, clothes that were not her own, she was wearing a skirt that barely covered her butt. She said a lot of things, most of which shocked me, some of which I already knew. At least she didn’t swear. Nothing that she said would have to be bleeped out. She came on stage, the people booed, she yelled and pointed her finger a lot at them, there was much confusion and I had a hard time understanding what was being said. In her unfamiliar clothing, I noticed that she kept pulling her skirt down, the shows required wardrobe left her feeling without her normal level of comfort. The last woman was called to the stage, and during the applause my daughter whispered to me, “Mom, I didn’t really do all that, I’ll explain later”. Huh?…
The show went on. More taped videos were shown, each of the girls yelling, saying they would do what they wanted, calling their Mother’s filthy names. Two of the girls had taken lie detector tests. It was revealed that they ’lied’, one mom went nuts, almost hitting her daughter. After all of us were talked to by the host, and everyone was out on the stage, a lady came out who had at one time been a Prostitute. She had been on drugs and had been shot at, and she worked with teenagers who were troubled. Now was the time we could get some help! Boot Camp maybe? A visit to jail? Something was going to get done! We were all ushered off of the stage, microphones were removed, we were to finishing taping somewhere else. I changed back into my comfortable clothes, as did my daughter.
We all went outside to wait for the van that was to take us to our new destination. I watched in horror as the Mothers handed their daughters cigarettes and they all lit up. They were talking and laughing as if they hadn’t suffered the most traumatic moment of their life. Now I am no saint, I smoke and I am aware that my daughter smokes, but I was not ready to view her doing so. My daughter being 16, was the oldest of these girls, the youngest being 13. During our wait, it was explained to the mom’s of the girls, who had taken lie detector tests, that some of the questions asked were not exactly the ones they wanted answered. What I understood to have happened was the show had been fixed.
My next disappointment was to come rapidly. We were driven to an area that could only be viewed in the daytime. It was that bad. One of the camera men ’found’ a cardboard box and wanted the girls to sit in it, individually. My daughter refused, she said that no matter how low she sunk in life, a card board box would not be in her future. So this was the help we were to get? A cardboard box?
I was dejected, embarrassed, mortified and angry. I had poured out my shame to the world with the assurance that some sort of help would be provided in exchange for doing so. The other mother’s were excited and laughing, discussing the precious day’s shopping trip. Some of them were discussing their plans of attending another talk show. One of the girls couldn’t wait to get home and tell all of her friends.
From what I could see, no help was forthcoming. Oh they gave me numbers of counselors that I could call, as if this was something I had not already done.
As my daughter and I headed back to our hotel we talked. She told me how they made her wear those ‘hooker’ clothes as though they were her own. When she was taping her video they held up cue cards with what they wanted her to say, making her repeat them over and over, unhappy that she was not calling me a ‘Bitch’. That was one of the words on her cue card that she refused to use. She then told me how one of the producers kept coming into the ‘green room’ that she was stationed in, offering her cigarettes. She had told them that she smoked, but did not smoke in front of me. She had seen enough of these shows to feel that if she did, they would ‘show’ it to me on stage. More than anything, she did not want to see me hurt more.
We returned home, I was disappointed, she was glad that she got to see New York City and fly on an air plane, we were both embarrassed. We were asked repeatedly by friends and family when the show would air. They had told us that we would be notified when it would be on. I didn’t care, it was something that I didn’t want to see. About 2 weeks afterward we received the phone call telling us when the show was to air. The lady excitedly told me to set my VCR to record our show was going on! I told her, “This is the one thing in my life that I wish I could ‘undo’”.
It was a bad decision on my end to agree to go on the show. My youngest daughter was upset that we did not get the Autograph. I explained that I never really got to meet the host, except when I went onstage. I had asked my producer if she could get me an autograph for my daughter, she kept saying “I’ll see what I can do”. My request fell on deaf ears. When we told her how the show was ‘set up’ she decided that she no longer wanted to watch it. I guess it was back to the Disney channel for us in the afternoon.
I was to re-think this over the next few months. My daughter’s behavior changed somewhat. She quit stealing my car, I never did pick her up from a friends house drunk again. As far as the drugs, I never saw evidence of them. She was 16 almost 17 so the boys, well that wasn’t going to stop any time soon. The only thing I can think is, my daughter saw my mortification, and decided that she was going to make things better by herself.
Someone from the show called us a couple of months later and wanted to know if we wanted to come back for a ‘follow up, success story‘. I said ‘no thanks’, I’d had about as much embarrassment as I could handle in this lifetime.
I have had my 15 minutes of ‘shame‘, Most of the time I wish I could take those 15 minutes back, but yet, if I had not spent that time being shamed, would my daughter have changed? It's amazing what we as parents will go through for the sake of our children.