Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Fifteen Minutes of Fame

I am the new poster girl for a charity event in which people (not me) are sponsored to rappel down the side of a thirty story building for money. This event takes place annually, diagonally across the intersection by my workplace.

At the corner of Hollis & Duke, in front of a Subway sandwich shop, I am standing, one clear blue-skied day last year, mesmerized by the proceedings. Wind gusts hard off the ocean and the victim/volunteers, many of whom are entirely inexperienced, dangle and swing like bells, tethered to life by a mere piece of rope. Many of them can't seem to connect toes to building except to push themselves out into midair again and again. Way up there. About a foot from the sky. Miniature people, from my vantage point. Below them, waiting, are reporters and TV crews.

I recall this with the clarity of absolute attention - my neck aches, my head is thrown back, my hair blows wildly. I don't move for a long time. I gulp down the hugeness of the sky, the sight of the flapping flags on the building top and the flapping humans-on-a-string. For me, the world has stopped its push and shove, it's anthill flow of street level activity. I could have stayed in that spot forever feeling the sky fill me up and the blood pound through my veins.

This past week, people keep announcing that they've seen me on TV. I don't watch TV so take their word for it. Apparently, the next rappelling event is being promoted - and there I am on flickering screens in their living rooms - locked to my spot outside the sandwich place, oblivious to everything else, thinking it's just me, the sky, and dangling people. Can they do that? I mean can they make you be the poster girl without asking?

Sometimes, my brushes with celebrity are less innocuous. For instance, I once agreed to be interviewed by Frank magazine - a muck-racking tabloid of little repute. A friend who had a friend who wrote for them asked me if I'd agree to meet them. They were sympathetic to prison issues, she said - and they said. They assured me they wanted to do something positive.

I asked around, "Should I do it?"
"What the hell, said one friend whose judgment I trusted, "why not? Who reads Frank anyway?" I couldn't argue with that. Certainly no one I knew.
Who reads Frank anyway?

Let me tell you. Every person who visits a corner store, grocery checkout, magazine stand. Every person, in other words, who doesn't live in a cave outside of town, saw the cover - with a hideous picture of me, under the screaming banner, "The Librarian and the Lifer."
And the story was even worse. Not mean. Just...cliche. I told Lamar, the "lifer" of the title, "I was Joan of Arc and you were the Baby Jesus."

Even farther back, practically in neolithic times, when I was receptionist for a local TV & Radio station and when the guest for an afternoon talk show didn't arrive, I was yanked from my receptionist chair and plunked down on the set to be interviewed (live) about the mystery of Tarot cards. Considering the five seconds notice, I did a damn good job. The station even thought about asking me to host a show. Until the calls came in about the godless witch on the afternoon show.

I wonder if that's my fifteen minutes? If so, I'm not looking for more. Not unless I see a cheque soon.

Thanks Evaard, for the inspiration for an entry. For paragraph two - and the rest as well.