Love Research adventures, street interviews, and photos chronicling my search for love around New York City.
February 26, 2010
(Click on the link above to watch my Fox & Friends Interview)
I didn’t sleep much the night before. I tossed and turned and a litany of questions kept running through my head— everything I thought the anchor would ask. Half-asleep I practiced what I would say. The alarm rang at 5 a.m.— finally Valentine’s Day had arrived. I flew out of bed, and scrambled around the apartment throwing on my red suit and fedora, brushing my teeth and pulling together my supplies. Fox & Friends was sending a driver to pick me up at 6 a.m. sharp. I thought “Wow- so this is how the people in TV land live.”
The driver was a gentle man from Bangladesh. I asked him if he drove all the guests for Fox to the TV station. He told me he did a lot of those trips, and he had chauffered a lot of celebrity guests. I told him I wasn’t a celebrity but I had written a book about love. I had spent the last seven years interviewing strangers on the streets of NYC and my book had just gotten published.
He seemed interested, and we started talking about the differences between love in his country versus America. He told me that his marriage had been arranged. He and his wife had never met until their wedding day. Most people he knew had arranged marriages, but surprisingly in his country divorce rarely happened. He said that things were really different in the US, “I drive so many woman home alone late at night. They burst into tears in my backseat. Crying to me they say ‘I thought he loved me but he left me for someone else.’ Sometimes I tell these girls I think that they should save themselves from heartache by holding off on sex until after marriage.” I am not so sure the woman he drove home appreciated his heartfelt advice –and I can’t really see abstinence catching on as a trend in New York City but it’s always interesting talking to strangers about love and over the last seven years I have had hundreds of conversations like this.
We pulled up at Fox’s studio thirty minutes earlier than I expected. 6 a.m. on a Sunday and we were the only car on the streets. He helped me unpack the trunk and reassemble my red shopping cart. We filled it with my folding stools and table, my love research sign and a vase of red roses that still miraculously looked fresh. This was a relief: I had paid the inflated Valentine’s Day price for the two-dozen flowers. I thanked him and pushed my traveling love cart through the front door of the building. A dogged assistant was waiting for me. He looked like he had been up for hours. He led me down the hall into Fox’s guest waiting room. It was 6:30 a.m., and a breakfast of fresh fruit, and pastries was laid out.
He didn’t explain what was going to happen next but ran off on some other errand. I realized I was in a DIY situation. I sat back on the cushy seats and looked at the giant flat screens on either end of the room and tried to imagine myself sitting next to the anchors. They were bright and chipper, and perfectly manicured.
He stuck his head in the door and asked me if I had visited the makeup lady yet. “No, I didn’t know that was part of the plan”, I said. I guess everyone who goes on TV gets the beauty treatment first. He led me down the hall behind a curtain. There was a jolly woman standing at a dressing table filled with hair products. In a thick accent she asked me to “take a seat.” When I asked her where she was from she explained Croatia. She started manipulating my hair like a sculpture spritzing and blow-drying and curling as she described her country. I felt a little bit like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, when she gets the beauty makeover before she meets the Wizard. My hair ended up in a sassy swag and strangely identical to the anchorwomen’s hair.
Then she led me to the makeup lady who had a table across from her. Her counter top was piled with every kind of cosmetic imaginable. She proceeded to use quite a few on me. Then she told me she was going to give me an airbrush. She took a little device and filled it with foundation and finely misted the entire surface of my face until I had perfect Barbie plastic skin. No freckles or blemishes just one smooth color covering me, like a skin colored mask.
I made several trips to the bathroom to inspect my outfit. I was four months pregnant and my love research suit like most of my clothes no longer fit quite right. I could no longer button the red jacket that used to fit me like a glove. Now I had a tiny gut like a miniature beer belly sticking out. This was going to be one of the last days I could wear the suit. I was pushing it. I hoped sitting down, my stomach wouldn’t be too noticeable. I had looked around for a maternity red suit but had no luck. Most pregnant woman don’t want to attract that much attention in terms of their wardrobe.
The assistant led me into the studio to get fitted with a microphone. Lights and cameras were everywhere. Again, I had that Dorothy-like feeling of entering Oz. They explained that I would enter the set after they cut to a segment on Daytona. I was standing next to a large monitor that showed their cutaways to national and international news. The anchor team sat on a couch surrounded by red roses. They had decorated for Valentine’s Day and Alisyn Camerota, who would be interviewing me, had on a vixen red suit. They were going over the news of the day, a bombing, a murder, and a car crash. I thought about what it meant to talk about love after all that tragedy and calamity. Then they cut to Daytona to talk to a driver who described his race-car as a womb (almost unconsciously, I placed my hand on my stomach).
Next they shuffled me up onto the stage to sit on the couch next to Alisyn. She was plugged into a headset that was feeding her national news, and she was staring at a teleprompter that fed her everything she needed to say. Yet somehow she managed to look relaxed, elegant and present in the moment. Smiling and calm she seemed interested in what I was saying. The interview went very very fast (in tv speed). I said ummms and ahs, but managed to get my words out. Before I knew it, the interview was over, and the show returned to the drama of the day.
Later, I was sitting in Union Square doing love research for Valentine’s Day. A man approached me. He was shy and a bit akward in his approach, “I saw you on television this morning talking about love research.” Now I was the host of the show. I invited him to take a seat and sit down for an interview.
February 3, 2010
According to an MSNBC report, Americans spent as much as $13.7 billion on Valentine’s Day in 2006, up 22 percent from just five years ago. Valentine’s week sales account for more than five percent of annual chocolate sales, totaling $345 million. According to Hallmark, half of the U.S. population celebrates Valentine’s Day by purchasing at least one greeting card. That figures out to be around 180 million Valentine’s Day cards exchanged annually, making it the second biggest holiday of the year next to Christmas. Thinking about all the money spent on Valentine’s Day is overwhelming, so this year I am going to do things a bit more economically.
Here are some big-hearted tips for those of you with small wallets: