Do You Want to Know Oprah?
Setting: London & europe, summer 1994
Song/Dance: The Macarena
Siting: Lady OPRAH
Along with 3-6 friends (varied on the week), I lived in a flat, nicknamed “the cupboard” because it was minuscule, in Earl’s Court. Our kitchen was a 4x4 closet. The view from the only window was a rust colored brick wall. I adored everything about living in London. The energy of the city captivated me.
Bloody Old England
The mornings started with a run through Kensington Gardens and then off to my internship. A 20 minute tube ride to St Paul’s Cathedral station landed right at the office in the meatpacking district. I would change from walking shoes to heels before the train door opened and the conductor announced “mind the gap please.” Emerging from the subway into the damp, gray atmosphere my stilettos clacked along the narrow cobblestone sidewalk lined with charming row houses. I passed hard-faced smiling butchers in bloodied aprons headed to the local neighborhood pub for a pint after the night shift.
Would you believe I did not have a phone that summer? The only phone available was at work. Once there, I was in communication with family and friends from the States. One morning a fax buzzed through from my parents. They were coming to visit London and then we would rendezvous in Italy! Ooh la la!
The folks arrived in July and after a tour of Stonehenge, dinner at Bibendum, seeing the play Blood Brothers for the 5th time, and jamming to the Eagles at Wembley, I sent them on their way.
My heart beat fast as I touched down at the Firenze Airport___what a thrill! It didn’t take long for Mom and me to find the Armani shop.
Resplendent with our acquisitions, Mom, Dad and I headed to Il Latini for an early dinner. The historic, tiny trattoria had an excellent reputation, 5 “stars” and not too many dollar signs in our guidebook, which is like hitting the jackpot. ***** $
The aroma of simmering garlic and olive oil was thick as we entered the restaurant. The white-haired Senior Mr. Latini was stationed below rows of prosciutto ham hocks lining the ceiling and cutting the paper-thin slices to be enjoyed with sweet, tangy melon. The antique wooden chair squawked as I scooted up to the white table cloth. Dad sat with his twinkling eyes toward the entrance. Mom and I were facing him, our “loot” in the seat to his right. We ordered a carafe of local wine and a bottle of Pellegrino.
Dad says, “You are not going to believe this, Oprah Winfrey is walking through the door.” And sure enough she breezed right by our table with her entourage including Bob Greene, the trainer.
Now I grew up “on” Oprah and have been a disciple since her show aired. In college, I would not schedule any classes between 4 and 5 pm because Oprah was ON! I could not believe my eyes.
We were star struck as we sipped vino and considered introducing ourselves.
At the time I was a smoker so when I noticed one of the gentlemen in her party go outside for a cigarette I thought, “Here’s my ticket!”
Frabrizio was perched alongside an orange Vespa about to light up a Marlboro. He was tall, dark and handsome with green eyes. I fumbled in my purse for a Virginia Slim as I eased over to him, smiled, and asked for a light while trying to act cool.
“Si,” he said. “Grazie.” We glanced at the activity on the street and the passersby.
I introduced myself and deduced that he knew some English.
“I see you are with Oprah?” I announced.
“Si, we are designers shopping for her home in Miami.” Wow this was right up my alley___I am a design major! Maybe I could use this in a paper for my internship. I shared with him my love of art and Oprah.
Fabrizio took a long puff in on his smoke and casually said in a heavy Italian accent,
“Dooo you waaan to know Oprah?”
“Fantastico-of course I do!!”
We walked to the private room next to ours and the group was at a large rectangular table. I felt lightheaded as we got closer to Ms. Winfrey.
Here we were-in the moment of meeting Lady O. Fabrizio introduced me to her and I said: “I am such a fan, it is so nice to meet you! Isn’t Italy awesome? You look tired.”
Yep. That’s what I said. I told Oprah Winfrey she looked tired. I clearly had been smelling the garlic fumes too long.
“Well we have been very busy travelling, collecting accessories and are eating way too much,” she said. That is all I remember. The room began to spin as my face got hot and I knew I needed to remove myself from the scene. She was very accommodating and kind during our lengthy conversation.
So I now have a lifetime quest to redeem myself and meet her again. I would thank her for being an inspiration and guiding light.
I would not trade that moment for anything. Get out there. Never pass up an invitation because you just may run into Oprah!
Be prepared to meet all kinds; if you are introduced to someone you admire, have a question ready to ask. And remember, they are just people too.
Open up to opportunity and make connections___life is directing you to where you belong.
As Ms. Winfrey said in December’s issue of O Magazine, “All roads lead to the home that is you!”
Addendum: Indeed, The World is Connected
Here you have a family from North Carolina (my mom grew up on a tobacco farm)___dining in Florence, meeting a US star at a restaurant (the owner’s daughter attending college in Greensboro NC) indirectly because of being a social smoker (which we all know is a bad habit).
For further reading about my European Travels, click here .