Friday, October 12, 2012

Mrs. Amanda Jones

I try to act cool, an act that, for me, defies the laws of physics.   I noticed her immediately, how can you not?  She simply beams.  Her eager blue eyes are bright, and when her lips part in a smile they reveal gleaming white teeth, a smile that, unlike most, flashes not only her top, but her lower incisors as well.  Smiling I will soon find, is as much a part of her existence, and almost as crucial, as breathing or the beating of her heart.

"Is she looking at me?"  I ponder as I rustle through the well-worn daily paper strewn carelessly across the assignment desk.  I  check my hypothesis, as my cynical squinty green eyes are caught, just for a second, by hers.  I quickly, and awkwardly drive my attention back to an article about budget cuts, or a garden variety petty crime.  "She IS looking at you!" the little man in my brain shouts.  I quickly fondle my nose, then let the same hand drift casually to do surveillance on my zipper.  "Nose clean?: Check, Zipper up?: check." 

"Chris, This is Amanda Chamberlain," Announces Don Kauffman, the assignment manager at 2News, "She will be working on the desk."  The "desk," is sort of command central for a television newsroom.  Amanda will listen to police scanners, call police departments to check on crimes, and send photographers to breaking and other types of news.

"Awesome," I say as I take her hand in mine, "it's good to have you,"  I  can tell she is young, maybe just out of college, or completing her first job.   Most fresh-faced new employees struggle in those first few months in the so-called "real world." Everything is just so big, from the job they are thrust into with little or no experience, to the characters they will meet, particularly in a television station, crammed tightly with bulging personalities.  To be 21, still bunking with your buddies from college, shooting beer bongs on Saturday night, and sleeping on a Futon, then to be tossed carelessly into this bizarre, alter universe of television news:  A wild landscape of time-warping deadlines, lights, sets, squawking police scanners, and explosive egos, must be a mind-spinning proposition.

I recall my first day in a newsroom.  Think of it like this:  You are rushed into a cavernous mansion, shrouded in complete darkness, your job: Stumble to the kitchen, find the recipe and the ingredients, and whip up a nice Creme Brulee, of course, do so with the lights, and have it ready in one hour. 

On Amanda's first day it is clear she has an innocent gravitas, marinated in maturity, but not spoiled by cynicism.

As the first few weeks click by, it is clear this job is not grinding her up like it has so many others in the past.  An assignment editor, is at the convergence of everything in the newsroom.  Think, water treatment plant.  All the s%*t eventually ends up in, on, or around the plant, and the "desk." 

"Why aren't we on this!  Do we have anyone on this!"  Is the most common refrain fired at whoever stands naked (figuratively) as sentinel on the desk, particularly when a breaking News graphic flutters across the screen of a competitor.

"Seriously, that's news?" is a common refrain that an editor might be poked with by a crusty photographer, on the jagged end of a 14 hour workday and unhappy with his most recent assignment.

Amanda manages to handle the S*#t, with her smile disarming, and lighting the way.

Uncomfortable confession alert:  I Googled her.  OK, I admit it, and, it turns out, Amanda has a sizable Internet footprint, and I am stunned when I  stumble upon, her modeling portfolio that can be described in a word, two actually: Holy Mackerel !  As I tick through the pictures, I am floored by a photo of her graced in a striking blue dress, and platinum blond hair, her eyes gazing skyward, her chin lifted delicately by the palms of her hands.  "Dude," I alert the nearest male standing nearby, summoning him to glance over my shoulder at my computer screen, "check her out!"  She is stunning.  

I now concludes this completely base, sexist, misogynistic objectification of women portion of the blog, I now return you to your normal programming.

As Amanda begins a pretty meteoric rise At 2 News, she find herself first simply booking guests for the morning news show then producing, then even hosting and reporting, I continue to be quietly intrigued by her.

As the days continue, I find myself always aware of Amanda.  I'm not melodramatic or creepy enough to profess that I track her every move, in reality it is more subtle than that.  As I go about my work, I can always sense her presence as she floats through the office.  Like incense filling a room, you smell it's aroma in the air, you know where the scented stick is smoldering as it dances gently in your subconscious, but it doesn't stop you from reading a book, painting a picture or preparing your morning coffee. 

Some time later, by chance really, Amanda and I are, side-by-side as judges, in what can only be described as the most outrageous singing contest in history.  After the wild competition comes to an end, Amanda and I find ourselves tucked away at the back of a restaurant/bar, our conversation: magnetic, connected, uninterrupted.   When our knees accidentally (or on purpose) tap casually together the deal, as they say, is sealed. The big pronouncements that follow come quickly and with ease.  "I  love you.", "Why don't you move in?", "Will you marry me?"  


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