Strangers on a train

So, today I get up late after working all night on scripts for the new show. I hop in the shower, throw on my tracks and head out to grab my Illy dark roast coffee and non-dairy, no-white sugar-or-flour low-fat muffin (a.k.a cardboard) and head out on the train to the studio. As I board the train, I flick on my iPod, which is playing Feist’s latest album and begin dealing with 10 unanswered emails on my CrackBerry. I eventually look up from my messages to notice a group of ladies staring at me.

I look at them and smile and then look away, hoping they will eventually find someone else to stare at. As I glance back, I find them still looking at me, so I do the polite thing and look down – ‘cause that’s what we are supposed to do, isn’t it? Finally I look up one more time to realize that these ladies aren’t looking away. Well now I am just panicked, thinking that I have something awful stuck to my forehead, and I even go so far to check that my underwear isn’t on over my pants. Finally, I take off my headphones in the hopes that they will say something to to end my suffering.

Sure enough, as I take off the headphones, the lady in the middle, who is looking ever so put together for work, smiles and says, “Excuse me, are you the host of Diva on a Dime and Fashion File?” I smile back, and with a very flattered look on my face, say, “Why, yes I am.” In as kind a voice as possible, she says, “It was hard to tell with you so dressed down.” What was I supposed to say other than: “Busted.” I obviously couldn’t tell her that I had all of three hours of sleep the night before or that I spent 10  hours in studio yesterday.

The lady smiled and said that she enjoyed the new show but she thought that I could work on being a little more friendly on-camera -– as she put it, “The way I was on Diva.” So, if I wasn’t already panicked about launching a new show under tight deadlines and grueling hours I now needed to improve my on-camera friendliness! Her friend challenged her, saying that she thought I was just fine but, she noted, what a difference the camera makes by adding 10 pounds to my frame. I wanted to throw my muffin right out, skip work and find the closest treadmill.

Lady Two realized that she may have offended me (not me, just my neurosis), and then commented on how handsome she thought I was. Finally my stop came, and by stop, I mean  one stop too early. I thanked them for their advice and for being loyal viewers and then ran off the train.

As I walked by the mirrored glass of a downtown building, I caught a glance of my own reflection and stopped to take a look – yes, a bit like a crazy person -– and for once, I was happy with what I saw. I may not have been wearing my designer suit, and my waist-line may not be where it was in my mid-20s, but I noticed the grey on the sides of my hair and my maturing face and thought, Man, I like the way I look. I never felt that way when I was starving myself and working out five times a week religiously. The ladies on the train may have been right about my appearance both on and off camera, but working in television you grow to accept people’s opinions, both constructive and otherwise. What was great about this experience was that it didn’t affect me the way it would have in the past –realizing that was worth the train ride to work this morning.