The Nate Berkus Show is on national TV every day, and Nate Berkus himself is one of those people who is so ridiculously charismatic that I was worried that the oversized framed photo of him in the green room would cause my wife to swoon and I’d have to run around looking for pillows to prop her up. Nate is, mercifully, gay. But frankly I don’t know if that helps or hurts our case, men, because he is also a world class interior designer and wouldn’t women just kind of run off with him for that alone?
It was late on a Thursday night that I’d gotten an email from my publicity person at HarperCollins, Bri. We love Bri. She told me that the Nate people wanted me to come in and tape a segment on Monday.
This was all only happening, I should point out, because our very good friend Craig and his wife Tali happen to be friends with him and gave him an advance copy of LITTLE PRINCES. He liked it enough to “ask” me to come on the show, in the same way that the Lottery Board has to “ask” the local hayseed who’s just won two hundred million dollars to come to collect his winnings. I would have run to New York that instant, and very nearly did, except that Liz quickly pointed out that a.) the taping wasn’t for four days and b.) I was wearing naught but undies.
Let me say this: none of this, really, can I claim credit for, other than the fact that my name is on the book. I want to make that clear at the outset. I didn’t write the great American novel – what I did was write down what happened to me over the course of a little two years between 2004 and 2007. In fairness, a lot of crazy stuff did happen, what with the kids and the war and the trafficking and the fact that I met the lovely Liz in the whole process and she agreed to marry me. It is, I think, quite a good story.
With the release date is almost upon us (January 25th), there has been some neat stuff going on that I thought would be fun to chronicle in this blog.
Now, let me further stress – if you’ll allow me to – that as a Christian I believe firmly that this is God’s doing, and I believe that taking credit would deliberately ignore the fact that He is using me and this book to illuminate a crisis on the other side of the world in which children need help. You who know me know that a few years ago I would have rolled my eyes reading a sentiment like that. I would have glossed over it at best, or, more likely, judged the writer to be a crazy Jesus freak. So I both understand and easily forgive that reaction. Eye-roll away, my non-Christian friends! I just wanted to share my world view there, and say that the presence of God is, to me, the only logical explanation why this blog and the time in Nepal led to the creation of a real live book.
Okay, back to it.
In the Nate Berkus green room, Liz and Craig waited as I was called out for hair and make-up. I was brought down the long corridor into a bright room like a hair salon. Before me sat an entire table of make-up-y type things, the kinds of tiny brushes and powders that can be distinguished and sorted at a glance by our wives and girlfriends and yet to men we may as well be trying to distinguish between twin mosquitoes. Why don’t they just have one brush and one powder? we ask. Why isn’t the brush wider – say, the width of one’s face – to save time?
I sat down in the chair. The woman looked at my face and said “I’m not going to do much, don’t worry – just have to touch you up a bit. You’ll be sitting right next to Nate and he’s got this amazing tan, and your skin is….well, anyway. It won’t be much.”
When I’d finished with the make up, the hair woman looked at my hair, kind of cocked her head, and said “You know what? I’m just going to leave it the way it is. It’s charming!” which is less how you would describe Pierce Brosnan and more how you would describe a toddler who doesn’t know he has a Spaghetti-O on his face. As I was leaving she said “Safe travels back to Nepal!” which meant that she clearly thought that my hair was supposed to look – for lack of a better term – third-world-ish.
Liz and Craig were seated in the front row. I was given a seat on a kind of bar-stool type thing with a camera in front of me. The next thing you know, Nate is there next to me, super friendly and relaxed and Nate-Berkus-y and we were rolling. He said the book had kept him up all night and that he was really moved by it.
Then he did what I’ve come to fear – he began describing the details of what happened to the children in Nepal.
Usually, people get the details wrong, and I can’t blame them. It is something of a complicated story, one that we’re not used to hearing in this country.
Now, Nate Berkus was telling the world, right on TV, the situation. If you catch the show when it airs the week of the book release, it will be interesting to watch my face to see if you can pick up on my fear as he launches into it.
Nate totally nailed it. Like, 100%. I’m not sure I’d really seen that before. I was flabbergasted. It was just so smooth, and staring into the camera at millions of people. It would be like me going back to his studio’s kitchen, looking into the camera, and telling the nation I was going to whip up a little conch chowder.
It was a fairly short segment, and at the end Nate went to talk to the studio audience and pretty much hung out only with Liz and Craig. Then it was over and we were back out in the cold of the upper west side.
I’m not sure what date it will air yet, but when I know, you’ll know, probably because I’ll be at your place of work lugging a television and setting it up at your desk, demanding that you watch.
(NGN has a new website - it’s beautiful! Come check it out!)