So I went on the Today Show yesterday to talk about some themes you know well by now — deconstructing meals, picky eaters, my Trickle-Down Theory of Dinner (see page 10!) and of course, the book itself. I’ve known about this segment for about three months now — my publisher called me with the news while I was watching soccer practice — and if I were a certain kind of person I suppose I would have been broadcasting this news all over the world, posting it on my events page and facebook, tweeting from the green room and all that, but the truth is: I was kinda terrified about the whole Live TV thing. To the point where over the past few months I’ve been dividing my life into two distinct eras: “Before Today Show” and “After Today Show.” (As in, That Matthew Sweet concert is After Today Show, so I will really truly be able to enjoy it.) In situations like these — admittedly, very very lucky situations like these — my default mode is usually pathological denial, to pretend like it’s not going to happen, until the very last minute when I’m forced to admit I have to somehow rise to the occasion. But here’s the thing about TV: You have to actually practice like crazy if you don’t want to dissolve into a puddle of anxiety or, in my case, freeze on the spot. (Ask anyone I went to college with: This actually happened to me in classrooms all the time.) And so I have been carrying around little index cards with me for weeks with all the possible questions that Natalie Morales (Natalie Morales!) would throw at me. You know, toughies like: Why did you write this book? Why is family dinner so important to you? Does takeout count? Why on earth do you write down what you have for dinner every night? What do your kids think of all this?
My kids were much more focused on their own days yesterday — my third grader had a field trip to the Bronx Zoo; and my fourth grader was getting her Field Day team assignment, which, trust me, is about eight thousand times more exciting than watching her mom prepare a salmon salad on TV — but the two of them took the time to make an index card for me that helped more than the other 25 combined. I carried it with me to the studio and here is what it said:
Remember the Brady Bunch episode where Marcia gets over her Driver’s Test jitters by picturing the instructor in his underwear? That strategy really stuck with Phoebe — she said she used it herself recently at her fourth grade concert — and I laughed every time I read her little reminder. (Side note: Remember, we watched at least three or four Brady Bunch seasons on our long road trip last year and I highly highly recommend you do the same, long road trip or not.)
My friend Charlie (as in The Power of Habit Charlie, who you might say has been around the media block) took the train up from Brooklyn last month so he could do his best impersonation of Matt Lauer at my kitchen counter and dish out some much-needed media advice. Abby, who loves nothing more than pretend play, was so entertained by this craziness and seemed to have absorbed all his pointers. At least that’s the only theory I can think of for how she came up with this “Things not to do and do” list. In spite of my nerves, I did manage to follow her last, most important order. If I can’t do that, man oh man, I’ve got to ask myself: What is the point?
Thanks to everyone for the nice notes about the segment, and please head over to Today’s website if you want the salmon salad recipe. (Or, of course, just check it out on page 62 of my book.) I think my favorite part of the whole experience was a few minutes after we wrapped when Natalie Morales walked out of the studio and, while gobbling up a big bowl of my salad, told me This is delicious! It was 10:00 in the morning.
Reminder: Tell me your favorite part of the book (not on the comment field of this post, but through the official contest survey) and be eligible to win some pretty awesome prizes. You have until July 9 to enter so get reading!