One of the all-time, hands-down pleasures of being a published author is being able to take my friends and family along for the ride. Whenever I get to go on book tour, give a reading, tape a talk show or walk a red carpet, I try to have as many relatives as possible around me. It keeps me calm and keeps them amused.
So last week, when I went to New York City to tape “The Rachael Ray Show,” (it’ll air in July), I invited my mother Fran to tag along.
On Tuesday afternoon, we pulled into the garage underneath the studio where the show is taped behind a giant SUV, from which a crew of women emerged and made their way to the service elevator. After we got out of our car, the security guard whispered, “You know who you just missed? Rosie O’Donnell!”
Now. My mother, as some of you may know, is a gay lesbian woman from the suburbs of Connecticut. Telling her that Rosie O’Donnell was in the building elicited approximately the same effect as telling a fundamentalist Christian that Jesus Himself was hanging out in the green room. Her eyes glowed. Her face flushed. She elbowed me out of the way and pushed past my publicist onto the elevator. “I have to meet her!” she said.
We got up to the studio, met the producers, and were ushered to our dressing room, conveniently just down the hall from Rosie’s. Fran lingered until I grabbed her and towed her inside, and my publicist, who knows Rosie’s publicist, promised to broker a summit.
I set about getting to my outfit (read: lots of Spanx.) A lovely assistant brought some treats – salmon with beets, sliced filet, orange-blueberry cake. Fran ignored the food, and ignored me, fluttering around the room, fanning herself, trying to call her partner and email her other kids, all the while repeating the word “Rosie!” like a mantra.
Finally, we were summoned, and my mother and I made our way down the hall into the sanctum sanctorum.
Now, I tend to roll with a posse. But if I’ve got an entourage, Rosie O’Donnell travels with an entire football team. There were publicists, assistants, hair and makeup people. Fran ignored them all, with her eyes laser-beamed onto Rosie’s.
Rosie, who looked both smaller and softer in person than on-screen, greeted us warmly.
“So whaddaya do?” she asked me.
“I write novels,” I said.
"Well, my first one’s about this girl in her twenties going through a terrible break-up, and her mom comes out of the closet…"
Rosie turned to my mother. “You?”
“How old were you?”
“Fifty-five,” said Fran.
Rosie’s eyes widened. “So you were with men all those years? And you were thinking, eh, this is okay, but there could be something more?”
“Or less!” I piped up.
“The first time I was with a woman, I was like a teenager again!” Fran said rhapsodically. “I never knew it could be like that!”
At which point, I think I threw up a little in my mouth and had to leave the room.
When I came back, the two of them were still bonding over my mother’s sex life, and Fran was filling Rosie in about her partner of the last six years and how they’re both big fans, at which point a producer came to take Ms. O’Donnell to the set.
“Send me your books!” she called over her shoulder. Then, reconsidering, she said, “Actually, I could probably buy them!”
So there you have it…when Fran met Rosie. Whatever I get her for Mother’s Day won’t be nearly as good as that.