Every week I toggle between two worlds. There's the "suburban mom" in sweats and the Manhattan me in heels, however, I should mention, they're often stuffed in my backpack as I hoof around the city. Although I live outside of New York, my work and part of my social life is in Manhattan. I'm an advocate for veterans' causes (the Bob Woodruff Foundation), a contributor to CBS This Morning, an author, and, always, a mom. This makes the Metro-North bathroom, where I often transform into "City Glam," the equivalent of my Superman phone booth.
Here's how a typical day goes when I'm on the morning show:
I jump into a town car at 5:45am with wet hair and slits for eyes. As soon as I arrive at the studio, the CBS makeup magicians get to work spackling my face (which takes a little extra effort at my age). In order to keep me from looking like a blind lab rat, they add false eyelashes that--once I've left the studio and am back in natural light--give me a "tranny" look and cause me to have to explain at every successive meeting why I'm made up like Phyllis Diller.
After the show, I duck into a deli and order a three-eggs-and-bacon sandwich. The woman at the register doesn't give my now-melting makeup job a second look--she must see all kinds of crazy pouring out of the various CBS studios. She stifles a yawn, and as I take a bite, the yolk squirts onto my boob like yellow blood. Great.
Next up: a meeting with the Caroline's on Broadway folks to discuss our annual "Stand Up for Heroes" fundraiser at the Beacon Theater on November 8. Andrew Fox, the show's creator, wants to talk about stacking the night with artists like Bruce Springsteen, Ricky Gervais, Jon Stewart, and Robin Williams. Not bad company for an old lady in sensible footwear. "Nice look," Andrew mutters wryly, gazing at the sneakers I've already abandoned my heels for. The crotch of my tights has migrated midway to my knees and they are wrinkling at the ankles, like the plastic bags my mom stuck in my childhood winter boots. There is an occasional obstruction in my peripheral vision. Is one of my lashes coming unglued, or is that just my sagging lid beginning to impair my vision? Note to self: Get the name of any plastic surgeon, except the one who embalmed Joan Rivers.
Noon. It's time for some grits, and this gal doesn't like to miss a meal. I walk to Michael's restaurant on 55th and find myself outside the plate-glass window where the A-listers sit, in a public urination-like crouch as I swap out the Nikes for my city shoes. I remove the Mr. Rodgers cardigan I'm wearing over my dress, swipe on a little lipstick and brush my hair. I'm meeting with a magazine editor to discuss my newly released first work of fiction, "Those We Love Most."
"So tell me," she asks, leaning over her untouched salad, "Is this book really about you?" Finishing a bite of my dripping burger, I give the reply most middle-aged mothers of four can relate to. "If this book were true to my life, I'd have to add lots of spicy sex scenes! And maybe even throw in some leather and a few whips. You know us suburban Moms," I say, as she sets her fork down with renewed interest, "we're as frisky as wild ponies!"
Cut to me and the executive director of our non-profit organization in the conference room of a Midtown investment bank. We're making a pitch for them to sponsor our "Stand Up for Heroes" night. I'm 50 percent sure they've agreed to write a check just to get me out of the room, because by this point in time, the TV makeup looks like it's applied to a Galapagos turtle and the bankers are staring like geologists studying a topographical map.
With one sponsorship in the bag, we take a Starbucks break. I massage my dogs and wonder how my chicer Manhattan sisters seem to spend all day in heels so effortlessly. I'm the one who gets the stiletto stuck in the subway grate when I try to copy the grown-ups.
It's now the end of the day and I've crisscrossed the city to meet my hubby for a drink near his ABC News offices. One fake lash is now half unglued and curled off my lid like a shrimp. The other half refuses to budge when I tug. I've learned the hard way not to mess with any of this industrial make-up until I get home to a hot wash cloth. Anything short of the right removal tools and my face will resemble a Jackson Pollock painting.
"What's wrong with your eye?" my husband asks, squinting, patting himself down to find his reading glasses (I've been tempted to duct-tape them to the bridge of his nose). When my pores come into focus, he recoils. I've firmly moved into Night of the Living Dead territory, but I'm too tired to care. He shoots me a sympathetic look.
We sip our wine and wait for the traffic to subside so we can head home. Somewhere north of Harlem, my head lolls to the side and I am drooling on my sweater. Next thing I know we're pulling into our driveway. One of my twins gives me a hug with a skeptical eye while the other is quick to bring me back to reality.
"What's with the Halloween makeup Mom? I'm starving."
This article originally appeared in Manhattan magazine.