This doesn't happen often: three former Oklahomans and one Ocean State ex-pat sitting together on a stage before a national audience.
Lonely Planet and Self magazine teamed up on a solo women's travel piece recently, and I wrote some tips on beating loneliness on the road, and we were invited onto the Today Show's rowdy fourth hour.
--> See the segment
The whole thing was surreal. When I arrived 90 minutes early, a guard outside 30 Rock thought I was looking for tours -- 'no I'm really a guest' -- and directed me to the wrong building, but I got in fine and ignored the bagels and half-sandwiches in the green room, before being taken down to hair & make-up. My make-up person didn't care for me much. When I was thumbing the phone, she snapped, 'Are we done with that so we can get this over with?' Another woman stepped in to comb my hair. She seemed more committed to her job.
Heading back, I saw Ann Curry pass by in the hall, and I tried to rehearse lines we'd never need. Someone mentioned that Tyler Perry needed Gatorade in his dressing room -- he was on right before us -- then we were led sullenly up some plain gray stairs to the upstairs studio with a kitchen crew in progress for the next segment. 'You're going to be great,' Lindsey (Self's wonderful publicist) told us. A camera guy with a goatee noted that he was going to Tuscany soon. We waited.
Moments after Perry's interview was done, in burst in the unmistakable duo -- Hoda and Kathie Lee -- with big-time 'it's spring!' outfits on. Shook hands. I said to Kathie Lee, 'Hey, I'm from Oklahoma. That means there are three former Okies here...' and she put it together for me: Hoda was born in Norman, she studied in Tulsa, but at different times. 'But I'm older.'
And then it started.
Being on live TV feels like being in a boiling vice. It started off unexpectedly, we scrapped Thailand, dwelled on elephants, and flowed forward at a speed more quickly than practice back home. But it was fun, and seemed to come off fine.
Afterwards, Cristina Tudino (of Self, formerly from Rhode Island) and I walked in a bit of a daze -- 'did that just happen?' -- and talked about everything back in the green room. Then got zoomed off in a private car to our offices.
'Robert, you get car #12.' And I took it.
Some days are less usual than others.
Sorry I couldn't get to a 76-Second Travel Show video this week.