Questions, comments, or a free recipe card for Nana's Garlic Brisket? Contacting Cherie at Kimmons@chartertn.net.
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The Worst TV Interview. Ever.
Jul 8, 2008
I had my first television interview for my book! It was an unexpected development during the Book Expo schmooze time, unscheduled but coveted. My publisher, Linda, sweet-talked the show’s staff into squeezing me in at the end of the taping day. Sure, my makeup was pretty much used up, my hair was late-afternoon droopy, and a button had popped off my blouse when I left the hotel that morning, but I felt sure I would sail through. It was just talking, right? Words have never stumped me. Before.
The interviewer, Logan, was tall, blond, and dare I say gorgeous - a guy with a very sharp mind and a very gentle approach to interviewing. As I waited on the sidelines for my moment (well, my 30 minutes) in front of the camera, I watched him interview a Turkish woman who wrote a book about Ottoman women, and then quickly shift gears to discuss a father’s World War Two letters. The guy was good, and I felt certain if he could handle these intricate subjects with grace, the whole cookbook discussion would be a piece of cake.
Logan’s first comment to me was something like, “I hear a southern accent, don’t I?” Cleverly, I responded with a drawn-out “Raaaaht!” (right) - a gross exaggeration of a southern accent. (Where the heck did that come from? I remember thinking “uh-oh” – but it was too late.) I nailed the gross but totally missed the clever. I sounded like the schmuck news guys want to interview when the river floods or a tornado relocates a home. They always look for the biggest hick they can find. I was THAT guy. As it turns out, that raaaht was the high point of the interview.
I quickly discovered you can’t talk about a cookbook for half an hour. At least I can’t. My brain kept going dark. The whole concept of “elaborate” was non-existent in my malfunctioning cognitive hardware. For example, Logan asked an innocent question about bread pudding – like, “tell me about your bread pudding recipe - it’s one of my favorite desserts.”
I stepped right up to the plate. Yessir. “Well, it has bread. Stale bread. Oh - and cream. And raisins. And rum! Yeah rum – or bourbon, if you don’t have rum. Lots of bourbon!” (Great. I seem to know more about the alcohol than anything else. At that point I could have used a nice shot of rum. Or bourbon.)
I don’t want to give the impression that I had nothing to say. My mom’s garlic brisket, the inspiration for the whole cookbook, got lots of press. Too much press. Anytime Logan asked for an example of something, brisket was the answer. Feed a crowd? Brisket! Feed teenagers? Brisket! Favorite recipe? Brisket! Who are you going to vote for president? Brisket!!
At 28 minutes into the interview, I had nothing left, no more words. When Logan asked me a question, I looked at him with staring saucer eyes that spoke volumes – and what they were saying was “Mayday! Mayday! I’m toast!! Brain. Not. Working.” (At least something was talking, even if it was only my eyes. My saucer eyes. My mayday- screaming saucer eyes – that blessedly could never form the word “raaaht”.)
When the ordeal was finally over, lovely Linda tried to comfort me. She said my moments of incoherence made me seem real. Yeah, real like a case of measles, real like a telemarketer. Sometimes real is not so good. Sometimes real is excruciating.
The interview will be aired in September, but I will never reveal where it can be seen. So don’t ask. There is simply no need to expose the world to my gaping white shirt, blank eyes, and southern accent. If anyone ever asks me to do a TV interview again, I have an answer for them: brisket.