by Nancy Martin
I am so hot. I mean, hot, hot, hot! Much hotter than, say, Katie Couric.
"Are you okay?" my husband asks nervously."You're all red."
Last week, after I gave a library talk on a warm Saturday afternoon, one of the organizers came up to me afterwards to offer me a Kleenx, her face full of sympathy. "I felt so sorry for you!"
Yes, I've been having hot flashes. Turning red and sweating buckets as my hormones bounce off the charts. Yes, it's the "M" word. Gentlemen, you are excused from today's blog.
To make matters worse, this year's fall fashion police insist I must wear "layers." To be fashion forward when I attend an Ann Arbor, Michigan book festival next week, I'm supposed to put on a knit top and an over-sized "grandpa" cardigan sweater with a thick belt and--oh, why not?--a coat on top of it all. Let me tell you how much that is not going to happen. I mean, NOT!
I'm lucky if I can stand to wear a t-shirt and shorts here in my office. I have the AC turned down low enough to threaten the entire east coast electrical grid. I keep a glass of ice water within reach at all times. (Some day, I'm going to knock it into my keyboard, mark my words, then you'll really hear some screaming.) In desperate moments, I've been known to clap one of those gel-filled ice packs to my neck and pant like Rin Tin Tin.
And of course--like everyone else in a nation that has nothing better to be concerned about right now--I've been reading and watching all the preliminary coverage of Katie Couric's debut on the CBS news. I can't help noticing that Katie and I are approximately the same age.
And I wonder if she'll have hot flashes on television?
I don't think it will matter if she does, because the deck is already stacked against her. Katie can't win. If she flashes, everyone will call it flop sweat. If she's too perky, she will be condemned as fluff. If she's too serious, everyone will say she's overcompensating. If she wears a business suit, she's trying to imitate the men. If she dresses too casually, she's too girly to be reading the updates from Iraq. If she asks one single insipid question of a world leader, she'll be drawn and quartered.
Media moguls will assess every blink, cough and throat clearing. The voting public will count the number of times she smiles when she says "Bush" or "Clinton." (Did you know somebody really did a study and discovered that Peter Jennings was more likely to smile when he spoke about Ronald Reagan--thereby, so the logic went, encouraging citizens to vote Republican?) And surely somebody's got a spreadsheet all ready to keep track of what shoes Katie wears and when.
Even Barbara Walters--the first woman to at least share the anchor desk--wonders what Katie's going to wear on her first night in Walter Cronkite's chair.
Does Katie have the gravitas to give us our evening news between all those commercials for Depends and Metamucil and denture adhesives?
Will she show her famous legs?
(Me, I kinda liked Bob Schieffer, and I'm sorry he must be displaced. He did a great job. And, like, j'adore his pastel ties!)
Everybody's acting as if Katie's debut is the most important feminist issue to come along in ages.
Whereas, over on The View, people are hoping Rosie O'Donnell will trigger a cat fight. And why not? Put more than two women in the same room, and the fireworks are bound to start popping. Hey, who doesn't want to see Hillary Clinton take off the gloves with Nancy Pelosi? Or even Laura Bush? Put a couple of females on public display together, and the world assumes there's an undercurrent of competition or jealousy or adolescent conflict going on behind the scenes.
Oh, come on.
All I really want to know is what Katie plans to do when she's hit with a hot flash.
Can you hear the likes of Dan Rather if he'd suffered the same indignity? "Hoo-eee," he'd say as he mops his brow with a red bandanna, "this chair is hotter than Texas asphalt in July!" Tom Brokaw would have headed for those cool Montana hills a heck of a lot faster if he'd been forced to cope with The Change.
But Katie's going to have the real thing. And I'm very interested to see how she plans to cope. Because that's news I could really use.