Every week I toggle between two worlds. There’s the “suburban mom” me in sneakers, and the Manhattan me in Christian Louboutins—though I should mention, they’re often stuffed in my backpack as I hoof around the city. Although I live in Westchester, 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 Girl,” 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 Carolines on Broadway folks to discuss the star-spangled lineup for our annual “Stand Up for Heroes” fundraiser on Nov. 8 at the Beacon Theater, part of the weeklong New York Comedy Festival. Andrew Fox, the show’s creator, wants to talk about stacking the night with artists like Bruce Springsteen, Ricky Gervais, Jon Stewart, Patton Oswalt and Robin Williams. Not bad company for an old lady in sensible footwear. “Nice look,” Andrew mutters wryly, gazing at the lace-up shoes I’ve already abandoned my heels for. At the same time, I wonder: Is one of my lashes coming unglued, or is that just my sagging lid beginning to impair my vision? Note to self: Ask Ali Wentworth for the name of her eye surgeon.
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 on the side of the plate-glass window where the A-listers sit, in a public urination-like crouch as I swap out the sneakers for my city shoes. I remove the Mister Rogers cardigan I’m wearing over my Narciso Rodriguez fitted 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.
One of the questions I know I’ll get is, “Did you write this about yourself?” No, it’s not a roman à clef, I’ll say—I’d have to add lots of spicy sex scenes for that! But there are bits and pieces of me within the pages—“me” being the wife of journalist Bob Woodruff, the former co-anchor of ABC’s World News Tonight, who was critically wounded by a bomb in Iraq six years ago. So it’s a natural question to be asked, since the novel deals with a family and resilience. And I’d better get used to it—you write about what you know.
Cut to me and the executive director of our nonprofit organization in the conference room of a Midtown investment bank, 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 has sunk into my wrinkles and the bankers are looking at me the way geologists examine a topographical map.
With one sponsorship in the bag, our executive director and I take a Starbucks break. I massage my dogs and wonder how my chicer Manhattan sisters spend all day in heels, and seem to do it effortlessly. I’m the one who gets the stiletto stuck in the subway grate.
By the end of the day I’ve crisscrossed the city and arranged to meet my hubby for a drink near his ABC News offices. By this point, one fake lash is hanging off my lid, half unglued. “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 Fairway, my head lolls to the side and I begin drooling on my sweater. Next thing I know we’re pulling into our driveway. One of my twins gives me a hug with gimlet eyes, while the other is quick to bring me back to reality.
“Nice Halloween makeup, Mom, I’m starving.”