I make it my policy to be nervous for absolutely everything.
Our Bethesda trip was no exception.
First week on the job, I thought. What a terrible way to get acclimated to a new and unfamiliar environment where everyone but me knew what was going on. What a terrible idea this is, I thought.
On the contrary, when it hit about five-thirty today, I realized that this trip was probably the best thing that could have happened for the first week. Because I was not the only one who had no idea what the hell I was doing. Instead, no one knew. Nobody knew how to get to the theatre. No one knew where the green room was. No one knew what was being served for dinner. No one knew what was going on.
Which was great. Because it made me just one of the staff. Since this day has been long, yet abounding with stories to be shared, I thought I’d share my schedule for the day.
9:00 : I am scared awake by my phone alarm blaring on the end table next to me, namely much closer to my ear than where it usually is on the floor with me on the top bunk. I check my email and find that everyone went to breakfast at 9. Except me. Who just woke up.
10:00 : Work from hotel begins. I spend a while unsuccessfully calling MTV asking for comment on a story. I end up talking to an amusing journalist and a reality TV blogger instead.
12:00 : One of the producers tells me I can expense room service. I immediately begin plotting how to exploit this.
1:00 : After staring at the menu for a while, I realize I am too frightened to actually use the room service. I walk to Arby’s instead.
2:45 : We meet in the lobby. Unplanned, all the women are wearing black dresses. We get in a cab driven by the world’s shortest cab driver, wearing the kind of glasses you are given by the eye doctor after he dilates your eyes. I am not entirely sure that he can see over the dashboard.
3:00 : The staff arrives on stage for a read through. Carl Kasell is waiting for us there, and he greets everyone with a hug and a kiss on the cheek. Including me. I faint.
3:15 : Read through begins on stage. I sit with large headphones, feel official, and listen quietly until I am called upon to share my knowledge about the week’s Not My Job guest. I discover that one joke I made over the course of the week has ended up in the script. I glow with pride.
3:30 : A series of inappropriate jokes are made about the Muppets and Middle Eastern stereotypes. They are incredibly offensive and utterly hilarious. All of them end up in the script.
5:30 : Read through ends. I am sent up two flights of stairs to the box office. Four times. In heels.
5:45 : I wander into the greenroom to find this buffet of awesomeness laid out. As an intern on a limited budget, this might be the best meal I eat all summer.
6:00 : Carl wanders into the greenroom. I shyly request a picture with him. He obliges. Carl and I start chatting.
6:15 : Carl and I are still chatting. I am melting inside with happiness.
6:30 : PJ O’Rourke meanders in and reads us his bluff the listener story, which the producers do not approve. He wanders out for another cigarette to think about it.
6:45 : Sam Kass, the Not My Job guest arrives. Everyone is suddenly apologetic for the buffet, since he is a White House chef and it suddenly seems pathetic.
7:00 : Mo Rocca is writing his prediction for the end of the show. He is pacing. Actually, power walking might be a better way to describe it. Every time he comes back to the green room, he sits down next to me and starts thinking out loud to me. I suppose this is because I am the only one not talking to anyone, and it is less weird if he pretends to talk to me than if he talks to himself.
7:15 : Producers are still working on the script in a dressing room. Show starts in fifteen minutes.
7:30 : I sit down on the stage with several of the producers. The audience starts whispering and pointing to us, because we are a sign the show is about to start. Some people even take pictures of us. I try to look calm and poised and like I know what I am supposed to be doing.
7:37 : The rest arrive and pass out scripts. Which are definitely still warm from the printer.
7:40 : I put on my big headphones and feel awesome. Though there are only two sets of headphones at my station, there are five bottles of water. The theatre wants us to be well hydrated.
8:00 : The series of three racist Muppet jokes are made. The first is booed. The second gets an even louder boo. Peter looks over at the producers, who all simultaneously make a gesture at him that clearly says, “Move on, move on!”
8:15 : Mo over shares about the Queen. PJ over shares about his drug history.
9:30 : The show ends. Peter reads the credits. Which include my name. All the producers turn to look at me and grin. I cannot help but grin back, knowing that my name will be heard by 3.5 million people.
10:00 : I hover for a while on stage, then follow several of the producers out of the theatre to the VIP cocktail longue where the local NPR station is holding a cocktail party for donors. The VIP cocktail party is the closest I have ever felt to being in an episode of Chuck. There were tuxedoed waiters roving with champagne, low lighting, jazz music, and Carl Kassel. I kept waiting for a Ring attack.
10:45 : I have proved that I am the best minor ever, as I was unquestioningly allowed into a party with alcohol, and have spent the past forty-five minutes in a room full of people offering me champagne and not ingested a drop of it.
11:00 : We take a cab back to the hotel. The driver is definitely Transylvanian. PJ meets us in the lobby and tries to coerce us into going for a drink.
11:15 : I arrive in my hotel room, and think to myself, “What a good day.”