Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Afternoons With Oprah

Today is Lady O's last day. She's on to bigger and better things, and though I don't know her, I'm happy for her.

Because that's what's made Oprah famous. We (most of us on the planet) feel as if we know her. And in turn, that she knows us. When she looks into that television camera she peeks right into our homes, into our eyes. Right into believing we are special to her. She's been doing it for twenty five years. That's a long time.

Long enough for me to remember what the afternoons were like when I was a teenager and she arrived in my living room.

I didn't like high school. (The irony that I'm a high school teacher is NOT lost on me.)I was popular, but the thing people don't understand about those mean girls is that it's HARD WORK! And I wanted out almost as soon as I got in.

My mom didn't really mind it when I told her I didn't want to go to school. She took frequent breaks from life, so it seemed the norm. I was aided in my quest for absences.

The mornings that I chose to skip school were easy. I slept. But by the time 4pm rolled around (on the east coast) I was already regretting my decision to stay home. There was a lazy sort of quiet in those lonesome afternoons. No one was calling me. My mother was at her shop. The pretty house was still and choreless.

So I'd turn on the TV and try to "tune out" the rest of the world. And there she was. With her big eyes and shining smile. Her determined face and her screaming audience. I got lost in those Lady O shows of the late 1980's. Less about celebrity and more about "real person" issues. And that's what I needed. I learned from them. I wasn't attending high school. I was at Lady O school. Some of the things on her curriculum follow:

HOW TO LOSE WEIGHT: Stories of sucess.  These were great for me because I was on the verge of an eating disorder, well--even now.

I WAS AN ABUSED WIFE: Stories of love gone bad. Thank you Lady O. I had my own foul boy and even though I fell into the madness I knew the symptoms. Education is half the battle.

STRANGER DANGER: Stories of child abduction. My children are far safer because of you.

And there were many more. Those are the ones I think about daily. Really. Every day.

I have to admit, even though I enjoyed the shows. Even though I learned SO MUCH... I ache when I think of those afternoons.  Because in reality she didn't know me. And she wasn't talking to me. I was alone.

Desperate for attention and sad. Filled up with loss and shame and regret already at 17. An hour of Oprah gave me some time to forget that too soon it would be the dinner hour and I'd be by myself. Too soon I'd be back in bed trying to figure out a way to make the rest of the next day bearable. I'd remember that I couldn't play the guitar properly and that the boy I loved didn't love me back. I'd remember that I was mean to someone I liked or that I failed a test even though I knew all the answers. I'd remember that I'd never be a virgin again.

An hour isn't long enough to help a sweet, sick teen get out of the thick mud of her life. But an hour is better than nothing.  So thank you, and goodbye Lady O. I'd kiss you if I knew you.

Okay! So now I want to invite you to comment and leave your own bits of nostalgia here about that hour she gave us every day!

AND THEN be sure to visit my new and amazing blogging friend for another walk down Oprah memory lane. The best kind of tribute to our divine Lady O.  I introduce Jana: at An Attitude Adjustment. I know you'll love her! Sometimes you find a blog and you fall in love, you know? :)


I can't WAIT to hear your stories!


  1. No "O" stories, but what I remember "knowing" from others,,she has the ability to navigate controversy and seldom, if ever, offends anyone.

  2. The shows that have driven me crazy are the salmonella ones. I got very tired of hearing about the germs in my house and on my pillowcase. Germs are good for people, sometimes! Those chicken salmonella episodes still mess with me, to this day, when I attempt and fail at cooking. And thanks for the kind words about my blog!

  3. I don't remember watching Oprah in the beginning - in the 80's, but in the 90s I did, for sure. She has helped me see things differently countless times. I admire her for wanting to help so many people and for actually doing it for so long. I will miss the Oprah show, but I know she will have more for us on OWN. Different, but more.
    I am so sorry for your difficult teen years, Suzanne. I was alone as well, so I completely empathize.