Back from New York now…and still laughing about my presentation at the Princeton Club. It went just fine. In fact, my audience got so involved that they started arguing with each other about my thesis and I had to wave them down several times and say, “Hey, can I get to my next point here?” It was far more PARTICIPATORY than I had expected. My publicity person at Princeton has promised me that the crowd at the Princeton Public Library will actually let me finish my sentences.
I did have an odd experience at the Princeton Club, though. I mentioned, as part of my presentation, that my husband is the minister of our local church. Afterwards, a whole handful of people came up to me and said, “So your husband’s a minister? That must create some interesting tensions between you. How do you deal with that? What kind of argument do you have with each other? How do you manage to have a life together?”
I answered as well as I could. And then said to the friend who went with me, “Um…did I say anything that suggested I’m not in sympathy with my husband? Anything that implies I don’t agree with him?”
“No,” she said. “It’s just that you have a Ph.D. and a university job and wrote a book for a university press and you’re obviously articulate and smart, so they figure you can’t possibly be in agreement with him.”
And she’s right. It was one of those eye-opening moments where I suddenly got a glimpse of my world through the eyes of someone who doesn’t understand it at all.
The entire day was an exercise in stepping into different worlds, as it happens. I did an in-studio interview on The Gist, hosted by Michelangelo Signorile, a sharp intelligent host who seemed to have READ the BOOK (they don’t always) and had insightful questions for me. Then I had a phone interview with the Washington Post, which also sent a wonderful photographer to do a shoot. She said, “Let’s go find an interesting wall to shoot against.” We ended up standing outside a white-brick garage wall, where she took scores of pictures while saying things like, “Shake your finger like you’re scolding someone! Now hands on your hips, chin up, tilt your head to the right! Let’s try hands in the air! Turn sidewards to me and look thoughtful!” She didn’t ever say, “Work it! Work it!” but otherwise I felt quite model-like. And quite silly, doing this out on the street in the middle of Manhattan. In fact a little circle of people gathered to watch us. My friend, who was entertained by all this, said, “Do you want me to tell them you’re not really a model?” “No,” I said, “we’ll just let them assume.”
The Post interview was long and interesting (the reporter was very well-informed and asked great questions), but seems to have gotten carved down to the absolute minimum. That’s how it goes. Anyway, the photo and abbreviated interview will run in the Post on Sunday and can be seen online right here.