Wednesday, December 12, 2007

My Oprah Story....12.12.07


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So this past weekend I watched the 3 day Oprah/Obama-Bonanza....It was truly stunning and amazing. Crowds of people showed up in three seperate states, braving horrendous weather. What amazed me was how powerful Michelle, Barack and Oprah all were each in their own way, and that they spoke of Matters of the Heart and things that really mattered. I was stunned at how many people showed up, the crowds were so diverse full of so many different ages and backgrounds, and that moved me.....

The other thing that moved me was Oprah, I have linked her amazing speech to the Title, as her speech was one of the best I have ever seen.Watching that speech gave me more than Hope, it gave me Courage. It made me cry....partly because I knew her when she was a Local Baltimore Celebrity on her way to bigger things, and when her life was not so wonderful. I knew her before she had a Real Voice, I knew her before everyone admired her. I knew her when her Life was Shifting. And to this day I wonder if she would remember someone like me.....( this is a longer post, but a inspiring story, so have some tea...and a good read, consider this a gift).

Oprah got much of her start in Baltimore.Many don't realize this, but she really was always meant to do Daytime Talk, it was more than a niche...it was her Fate. In Baltimore she worked on a show with another commentator named Richard Sher, it was an odd collaboration, and did not fully allow her skills to show or shine. I suspect that it was heavily scripted and over produced.
And I know that when Oprah worked on that show, she might not have happy or fulfilled. I think it was difficult for her, and painful at times.

Now How do I know this?

In the early 1980's as I saved for Nursing School I waited alot of tables and lifeguarded. ( I have worked since I was 15 many many jobs, some stranger than other, but waitressing was just one skill). At that time I was working at Cross Keys Inn, and there was a little resturante that served all meals at the Inn, called the Roost. I worked as part of the Service Staff, so I did room service, banquets, and parties, waitressing and bartending. I liked the Roost the best, because it was a nice cozy little cafe with alot of Regulars. The Roost would be the first place that I would silently tend to the queen of Daytime, the Second Location is where I did something for her that would change a part of her life.

At the Roost, I wore my little hideous Bright Overly Cheerful Orange Uniform. I worked hard to like that horrible uniform. ( Any redhead will tell you that Redheads should not ever wear Bright Orange). I worked alot of breakfast and lunches, and alot of weekend eves. I took good care of my regulars, many consistently sat in my section over and over.Oprah and her TV friends and co workers sat in my section over and over. I used to save a booth for Oprah certain days of the week, so that she could get in and out without disrupting her work schedule, she only had to ask one time. I used to do little things for my tables, like pick flowers on the way to work, or leave peppermints in a bowl. I had this theory that if I gave some ominance that my tips would improve and that people would have a nicer meal.

Oprah would come 2-3 days a week for a late lunch, and she would get the same meal everytime. She really did struggle with her weight. I admired how hard she worked on this issue, she would order a Salad Niscoise,light dressing,tuna with rye crisp melba toast, and iced tea with extra lemon wedge and 2 Sweet& Low packets. I would give her extra tuna sometimes, and always fresh cut lemons. She was always impecaably dressed, so I always made sure that there were extra napkins. She was very ladylike, with perfect makeup, and beautiful nails and hands. ( When you are a tomboy like me, these ladylike qualities always impress me).And sometimes on Fridays she would come and get a Chocolate Sunday. And there were times I noticed that even behind the bright smile, there was sadness in her eyes. And I have to say, that of all my Regulars, she was one that inspired me to take good care of her. I am not even sure why, but I felt that not enough people had appreciated or been kind to her.

I worked there at the Roost and The Inn for a couple of years, and then moved on to other jobs that paid better, and my Regulars became a thing of the past, slipping into my grey matter folds.

During Nursing School, I ended up working at a Trendy Fashion Store. I was a starving nursing student, and during those years I also did some modeling. The Trendy store partly hired me because I could model clothes for Special Clients. The Gig was that I would model Potential Clothes and then the managers would order the Clothes directly from Stores and Designers in New York City.The Special Clients included Baltimore Celebrity Women of different jobs and backgrounds. There were atleast three local Baltimore TV anchors and TV personalities.The Management would meet with the Client, and then order preliminary clothes ever season, and when they arrived, the Model would model them for the Client, and the Client would pick what they did and did not like. And then orders were placed. I was encouraged to be postive and encouraging, and for orders placed I did not get a commission, but I did get a discount if I wanted to purchase Irregulars Designer Clothes.

So this would be the Second Location that my path would cross Oprah. She was still in TV, but I did notice that she was not really happy, and to be honest I dreaded her visits, because to be honest these clothes ordering sessions made her miserable. She was polite and very quiet, but her eyes looked sad. Then during one ordering season I came to work and the Manager took me aside and showed me a collection that she had chosen with Oprah and had just arrived that they wanted me to model some of it, and also pieces of it for her to try on.I was told to be very postive , as Oprah was a facing a life changing job Interview in Chicago. That these clothes were part of her potential Daytime Hostess Audition. I was very moved by that and slightly worried.

In the early 1980's there was not much for women, especially during the daytime. There was an abundance of cooking shows, and Phil Donahue, but really not any Women Shows, and NO women of Color on during the day. I will be honest I was rooting for Oprah as soon as I heard that this Challenge was on her Path. And yes, in my gut I did , a skinny little shop girl KNOW how important that was. So I stood in the back and put the clothes together, adding accessories ( scarves and jewelery). And I was more than worried, the Colors were Horrendous. I tried to talk to the Manager, but she was all swept up in the Moment and convinced that the Collection was "dramatic" and "exciting". I tried tactfully to explain to her, my Boss, that the Colors were Terrible, that it needed to be changed,evaluated and re-examined. I was told to be quiet, and not "Cause Trouble" .

So Oprah arrived, nervous, and tense. So I modeled some and she modeled some. And there was much hemming and hauling about WHAT to order, what to wear. And What Accesories would look best or "highlight" each outfit. Inside I was so devastated, and sickened. Finally at the end of this grueling afternoon, I could hold it no longer, I had to say Something. So I explained as best as I could that the Electric Melon Colors in Silk were NOT flattering to her, they were dramatic, but not in a good way, I explained that it made her look well, "Clownlike, You want to be remembered, but not like this." She stared at me stunned. Probally wondering why this skinny little thing was being Soooo critical. And then she burst out laughing, and she has has great laugh. " Oh My, you're that skinny little tuna girl from that resturante aren't you??" I could have died of embarrassment, but I nodded shyly and said yes. And then I explained, " I really want you to get this job, you deserve it, they need to see how elegant you are, how strong. I don't want anyone to laugh at you. I am sorry, I am trying to help". I had brought some soft elegant scarves to the Dressing Room, for her to see the soft chenilles of pale champagne,soft elegant mauve, and soft sunset blue. She nodded quietly, said she would think on it.

I obviously caught holy hell from my Boss for being "impertinent", and within weeks I quit the Trendy Dress Shop as my school load increased and when my great Aunt Elizabeth became sick and died.....And I did not give a second thought to Oprah, but over the years I have wondered did she hear what I said to her, did it help her Big Moment. I like to think that it did.

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Epilogue:
The Rest they say is History, Oprah went on to become so famous and so loved, as was always her due. I always knew that she was meant to shine....she made a deep impression on me as a young woman in my early 20's....She was more than Memorable, she was inspiring. And I am proud to say that I crossed her path......

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Due to Anonymous comments still being unavailable, if you wish to email me please do at enigma4ever@earthlink.net

29 comments:

enigma4ever said...

any messeges just email me at enigma4ever@earthlink.net. I am still working on the BlogRoundup and the Dana Post will be up by Friday...please do watch the Oprah Speech , it is so amazing.

WeezieLou said...

what a wonderful story! and good for you for not being too intimidated to talk honestly with her.

Larry said...

Nice story Enigma and one you should be proud of.

You should try and contact her for memory sake.

You never know, your kindness and trying to help may have helped forge what is today.

enigma4ever said...

oh Larry....you made me laugh...she has had contact with thousands, I doubt she would remember the snotty little shop girl...( my son says this is definently one of my "anal" moments....hehe)....Now I will be honest I am sending her a copy of this, since it is a story about her, and my concience says I blogged something so personal, and since she rarely talks about Baltimore, I should .....But I have to say this weekend , I watched her speech three times...made me that happy.....so proud....

( this I do know- I have NEVER seen her in the Electric Melon colors again - EVER....hmmmmm)

Weezie; believe me, I just could not let her go to Chicago in those outfits and those colors.....just couldn't....I really did understand deep in my gut HOW Important it was....

Fran said...

I thought the Oprah speech was great. It was refreshing to hear her speak *not as talk show hostess*, but as a person who felt compelled.
I've liked Obama as a candidate for a while, in that he is a political science major & college level teacher. He's lived in other countries, so he has a clue about diplomacy & the inner workings of other government systems. Also what I like about him is he is not an entrenched white house insider. The good ol' boys tried to spin that as inexperience.... but I think it was dk who made the excellent point, hanging out as wife of governer or wife of president does not equal political experience. Debutante, or social graces... but even then it's not about hammering out hard policies
or striking difficult arrangements..... she does not get to count that as political experience.
Sadly I have heard people make comments that race plays an issue in whom they would or would not vote for, as does gender. I find that hard to believe in the 21st century, but I hear people spewing that. But physical attributes step into the discrimination arena as well- I've heard people say Kucinich is too short, therefore does not meet the predetermined presidential criteria stereotype either.
I think all of those prejudices are a load of crap.
Although Bush may have looked presidential,
his IQ or lack thereof is a prime example of how very wrong those steroetypes can be.
The ongoing parade of White Guys in ties we've had as leaders or misleaders, have we had enough?

dada said...

Enigma: Thanks for sharing such a wonderfully entertaining story. I'm sure Oprah gets tons of mail, but on the chance she reads this, we'll look forward to seeing you on Oprah when she does a show based on the idea you've given her here.

And what a kick that will be, all of us out here in blogland getting to see you up there on stage with Oprah!

Gryphen said...

Wow!

Enigma you know Oprah!

And I know you, so that means I only have two degrees of separation from knowing Oprah! And she knows Obama! So I am only three degrees of separation from knowing Obama! And he knows John Edwards so that is only four degrees of separation from knowing John Edwards! I almost know a whole bunch of famous people! And one of them is going to be our next President!

Is my math right here?

Well anyhow the important thing is, you know Oprah!

enigma4ever said...

Gryphen : you made me laugh so hard...those Damn 6 degrees....well, I kind of know her, or knew her....but I doubt that she would remember me...but when I get Silent Fallout published- you can bet I am sending it in to HER Book Club ??? right? .....now if this wonderful woman helps Obama get to be our prez or vice pres, holy cow....( you realize that I will be so joy filled I will tap dance down the street.....never mind)....

( and honey, your math is always right....)

Dada: okay I emailed it, because I would not want to embarrass her...although I think it is a compliment to her...I knew she was wonderful all of those years ago...and yeah, I guess I unknowingly brushed fame....twice...so that must be good luck ...right?

Fran: I don't think race plays an issue, I think the media wants us to think that, it has worked for them a LONG time, and the GOP has humped it pretty hard pretty long too...wel, Strom is dead, time for REAL Change....and it is about WHO he is....and that he speaks the truth..and that all those years ago he said that Iraq was wrong- and he has NEVER waivered- that means alot to me.....and also I think that Oprah would not endorse just anyone....we need REAL change....and I think Obama represents that...( also 6-6 is a HUGE Obama supporter, and since he can't vote we have a deal- I support both Obama and Edwards- that is what our sign is, and where our loyalties lie, and I really hope they become a ticket....)

Inside our hands, outside our hearts said...

what a great story. I think you should email it to her. i bet she remembers you.

You kept me reading lady friend. Do you know how hard that is? wondeful post.

tara

D.K. Raed said...

That was wonderful! OMG, you are SO right on bright orange being a no-no for redheads. Do Electric Melon colors look good on anyone? I mean besides maybe Jimi Hendrix in the psychedelic 60's?

Now, I have to confess I've hardly seen Oprah on daytime TV. Her rise to fame coincided with my workaholic phase & so I kept hearing about her, but wasn't really familiar with her ... until she took that role in The Color Purple. When she spoke at the Academy Awards that year, I thought she was about the most beautiful woman I'd ever seen! Her sparkling eyes revealed a fine mind, too. It was hard to reconcile that Oprah with The Color Purple. What a talent!

I need to watch the whole Oprah/Obama video. I kept catching bits & pieces of it over the weekend. What I saw looked very inspiring. Obama may yet yank this away from Hillary -- yeaaay! He has so much to offer, I would be proud to see him in the White House.

enigma4ever said...

DK: I would be so proud of seeing Obama in the Whitehouse....that would be wonderful....and Michelle as first lady would be something too...and the Color Purple- that was the most amazing movie....and I loved that she made Books be appreciated again...she has had a huge impact....in so many ways...

Tara: ohhhh that is so nice....I have waited three years to write this...it is something that matters to me...but I was waiting the right time to tell the story...and it really does matter to have this wonderful circle of people to share it with....namaste.

Fran said...

I want to clarify- none of the factors- race, gender, or physical stature play any role in MY decision making, or probably for the majority of people in my surrounding "Blue State" (of mind).
But I think a part of that is a bubble, I am certainly not playing into any MSM race or gender card mind games, but I am just blown away to even hear it mentioned in the 21st century.

Sorry, now back to the topic that it's really cool you had multiple encounters with the great "O".
and it is a great thing she is doing-- putting on her citizen hat & speaking from her heart.

Mary said...

I'm going to watch the speech.
I'm sure your paths will cross again when you go on the show to promote your book.

deuddersun said...

Still waters run deep. There is much more to you Enigma, than we see here. A chance meeting? Perhaps. Destiny? More likely. For the both of you. I'm sure Oprah took your advice and I'm sure she will remember you.

Like Dada said, I, too, can't wait to see you on the O Show, promoting your book.

I spent this past summer working for Oprah, indirectly, on a TV movie starring Michael Imperioli, entitled "For One More Day". I believe it aired on the 9th on ABC, (sadly, I only watch sports and news so I missed it, sigh).

While Oprah never showed up in person, her "presence" was definitely felt. It was perhaps, the best job of my career.

d.

fallenmonk said...

Great story enigma and I shouldn't worry that Oprah would not remember you. Great people have a tendency to reflect on the path that brought them to whatever moment in time they are. I would think that Oprah would remember all factors that inaugurated her jump to Chicago. You are an element in her success and she would surely remember it.

proudprogressive said...

wow , that was a great story. And i think that its wonderful that Oprah is going out on a limb,for a Obama I would vote for him in a heartbeat. She is so authentic,in her world view, obviously and your observation of the depth of her eyes, the sadness in them, AND twice you run into her!! That is too freaky, and your courage to speak frankly about the clothes..E4E you are a TREASURE.
I have the same fears as Fran, in that i think i am surrounded or reading in my case ,self selecting liberal view points. BUT - and there is a big BUT , maybe its true, that the majority of people, IF THEY VOTE are in fact sick and tired of the Neo Cons and more then ready for a Black President. I shudder though, as our country is so deeply entrenched in its racism. We have to combat it daily, in our systems - Obama , Edwards would bring a needed change for us all - I love Edwards too, I hope the caucus' goes well i would love to see them on a ticket together.

Cartledge said...

You are a hell of a story teller, thank you.

an average patriot said...

enigma that was a good story. You should write her at Oprah.com I bet she would remember that and would talk to you, help you, or reminisce

Dusty said...

Cool story E4E! You have been a busy woman throughout your life..and the jobs..ah..we all have some stories about 'those' jobs I bet ;)

Oprah's Things said...

I am glad your path crossed with Oprah! :-) Very cool story!

enigma4ever said...

6Pm....Catch Up Time today...

Oprah;s Things : Wow., I love your site- so helpful....wonderful...and come visit anytime...

Dusty: thanks....we all have jobs and job stories...and some are funny and some are poignant...and some jobs we know that are better left in the old memory bank...

Jim: remeinesce ? ahhhh you are so funny, I am sure in many ways she is glad that the Baltimore days are over.....and long ago...but I feel like in some ways I am so lucky that our paths crossed all of those years ago...( I can't believe it is that long)...

Cartledge: it is good to see you....ahhh, you say the nicest things...

enigma4ever said...

PP: I hear you...but see I think people are sooooo sick of the horrendous Bush years and ALL that has happened...I mean look at the people in this video- some might have been republican...and some may have never ever voted Democratic...But Michelle, Brack, and Oprah really reached people, and spoke of things they needed to hear- watch them....and the people...I think enough people have been truly hurt by this administration...badly- healthcare, jobs etc...so Obama and Edwards too- are the ONLY ones talking about how BADLY we need CHANGE....when people are in pain and frustated and need Change- that is when you have Color Barriers dissolve and a Revolution Happen....and that is what is needed......I hope and pray that it is not just a Dream...

MONK: ahhhh, see it really is okay with me if she doesn't remember- I always will...more importantly I wouldn 't blame her for not remembering...it was a tense whirlwind of a time....( I doubt that I am THAT memorable)...

DEUD: ahhhh, you guys make me blush....see it just warms my heart that you as an employee on her set were treated well...that is the way it should be....that she remembers little things like employees need good care.....She is indeed the Real Deal...

Mary: ahhhh, you all I was kind of kidding about gong on the show, but I guess it is not a bad idea in the end...boy that would be a rush....and a thrill...you know I have thought about it...I don't ever remember seeing her wear Electric Melon ever...

Fran: ooooh, we knew what you meant it is fine...and it is a real issue, that there are racial problems in this country- sadly...no doubt about it...and what does that mean, what will happen, can we come together and come past the pockets of racsism that is still here...( ie like JENA, are enough people fed up ???? ) It is all worth examining and questioning .....and soul searching and sadly demographics are not always an easy trail.....we need people to vote for Change and vote Bravely with a Conscience......

Have a good night folks.....email me if you want to be in the Blogroundup and also if you know of anything good that should be......namaste...

Larry said...

For everyone of us that succeeds, it's because there's somebody there to show you the way out.

Oprah Winfrey

enigma4ever said...

Oh Larry- that is so wonderful- that is a great Oprah quote...wow...( so what is the new symbol that is appearing next to the names???)

Larry said...

Enigma:

The symbol is a B for Blogger. I guess they want to make sure we know what type of blog this is, by messing up the comment section with their B.

enigma4ever said...

thanks Larry...I just didn't know, I was like what the heck....it's kind of cute I guess....like a little bumble bee...

D.K. Raed said...

I don't care for the intrusive symbol. Makes me think they're trying to copyright stuff by putting their logo on it. Just more orange stuff crowding up my line of sight. Right now, it's distracing, but I'll get used to it.

proudprogressive said...

Perhaps we can console ourselves with two aspects of the blogger module, 1) its full of surprizes and features that appear overnight. 2) Orange is an international color of the Peace Movement,i am pretty sure. I saw that somewhere, (says the space cadet)
So we can choose see orange and think peace. on the down side, it is also the color of Gitmo and other prison garb. ...
anyhow blogger , you gotta love it. or ...not. Its always full of surprizes.

DK it actually compliments your avitar. looks good on you and Enigma actually to my eye. In this virtual world.

enigma4ever said...

OMG...copyright our names? or our stuff...that would be concerning....hmmm,

PP: you are so funny...well, in Burma the Peace Movement- or one wave of it was called the Saffron Movement...( hmm, or was that Tibet ? I can not remember...okay so now who is the space cadet...??)

Have a good day.....