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Live Wire: Long-Winded Short Stories

Live Wire: Long-Winded Short Stories PDF

Author: Kelly Ripa

Publisher: Dey Street Books


Publish Date: September 27, 2022

ISBN-10: 0063073307

Pages: 320

File Type: ePub

Language: English

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Book Preface

“Please, please. I need to push. I’m begging you. . . . I need to push.”

I know what you’re thinking. And you would be wrong. No, I wasn’t in labor. Just stay with me, and it will all make sense, I promise.

“Can I just get a minute? Maybe we should push the announcement. Don’t you think I should push?” The question was one posed by me, to my editor, to my agents, my PR team, my manager, Mark, and anyone else who would listen. “I mean, what difference does a day make?”

The answers came universally and swiftly, “No. We don’t push. We stay the course. We announce tomorrow, 9:00 a.m.” Never one to trust the experts, especially ones I’m paying, I pushed back, “Really? You don’t think the Prince Harry of it all will suck the wind out of any announcement?” You see, I was set to announce my book on the same day that Prince Harry was announcing that he was going to be publishing his very important and revealing memoir. We wouldn’t be publishing at the same time, but we were going to be telling the world about our impending books on the same day. This seemed wrongheaded to me.

Hosting a talk show for the past twenty-plus years and interviewing many, many authors has made me skeptical about publicizing my publicity. No, I’m not clever enough to come up with that on my own. My dear friend and former publicist, Stan Rosenfield, coined that phrase to mean when called upon to promote oneself, one must never promote oneself. That’s what people like me are for, but here I am. Paging Stan!

So, it already felt gross to put out a press release announcing my book. But since I was being gross already, I thought, if a press release falls in the forest and nobody, you know, whatever the rest of that stupid phrase is . . . But did I want my little quiet announcement overshadowed by THAT BIG GIANT GLOBAL ANNOUNCEMENT? ’Twas a royal pain in my arse. We would have to let Prince Harry go first.

But none of my love for things having to do with the British royal family negates the fact that I’ve spent the past year and a half of my life, and I mean almost every day, writing this collection of essays. A year and a half of my life! I had to have my desk chair at first reupholstered, then eventually replaced, due to the overuse. I also had microneedling on my rear end, which had taken on the shape of my chair from chronic sitting. How I suffered to bring you this future award-winning work of art!

Also, I’m not a writer. Not in the sense of writing for a profession, but I’ve written plenty of forewords for other people’s books, not to mention cover quotes, speeches for other people’s book tours, and my fair share of talks for New York’s 92nd Street Y. I’ve also written some scripts that you’ve never heard of, but let me state, for the record, that I have no expertise in the world of books, or publishing. As a matter of fact, I don’t have any expertise in most of the crafts in which I’ve earned a living for the past thirty-plus years. Some people are gifted. Some people have ghostwriters. And some people are me.

I’m also incredibly risk averse, and frequently prone to regret. So, I was about to call this whole thing off, even though I was 99 percent done, due to the chatter of the press release ratcheting up.

Personally, I think my very perceptive editor was on to me and sensed I might pull the plug on this entire thing. And she was not wrong, as the idea had crossed my mind several times. It’s crossing my mind now, even after the announcement. In fact, I wish you would put this book down right now and walk away. Go ahead, I’ll wait.

It’s a funny thing to write a book, especially one of personal essays, which I thought would be easier, and frothier, than writing a memoir, which seems like a nightmare of an idea. But once I got started, I realized right away that organizing life events in a series of short stories with a beginning, middle, and end was way more complicated, and rife with land mines than I anticipated. I thought it would be an easy, breezy, funny jog down memory lane. But some of the memories weren’t easy, breezy, or funny. Some made me depressed. Some made me angry. Some left me stunned at myself, for accepting such unacceptable treatment, for such a long time.

Writing a book is a lot. Like, A LOT. Now that it’s done, that I’ve done it, I feel I owe it to you, and to me, to be as honest as I possibly can without violating any of the myriad NDAs and confidentiality agreements I had to sign with my current employer. There were several times in this process when I regretted the decision to do this at all because (a) I don’t know what I am doing, (b) just because I like to read books doesn’t qualify me to write one, (c) so many of my friends have done this and have encouraged me to do the same that I fear I just caved into their peer pressure, and (d) I am too old to fall victim to peer pressure.

But, and there is always a but . . .

What I realized in my recollections is that often things that appear easy are really quite difficult. And while nobody’s life is perfect, there were times when I was called upon to make mine appear as close as possible. I did my job day after day, making it look fun and easy when at times, and let me be really real here, it was none of those things. But as a woman, I stood up and did the job I had to do. Playing a character is what all women do, but playing yourself on television is the hardest role I’ve ever had, especially when I started before I even knew who I really was.

Maybe that’s why I decided to call the book Live Wire. Because Becoming by Michelle Obama was already taken. And my editor thought Uneducated was too derivative.

Because I’m a fatalist, when things started to feel comfortable, I started looking for signs that I should stop, pull out (tee-hee). I checked fortune cookies, read horoscopes, and asked Audrey Slater (my stylist who seems to know things), but the most prophetic input that I received came from two surprising and very unlikely sources. And although I hate to name-drop in the introduction, I fear I must.

Mega-bestselling author James Patterson and former president Bill Clinton (perhaps you’ve heard of them?) were on our show to discuss their thriller, The President’s Daughter, a follow-up to their best seller, The President Is Missing. When we went to commercial break, Ryan Seacrest, my colleague and longtime friend, piped up with “You know, Kellyripa here is writing a book,” enthusiastically, pointing toward me, so they would know who he was talking about. AS IF!

As if either of these men would be the least bit interested in my little womanifesto.

Mr. Patterson and President Clinton both smiled congenially. “We know,” they said at once. Oh no. My blabbermouth had infected everyone I work with. I have been obsessing about this book hoping someone might love me enough to step in and say, “ARE YOU CRAZY? DON’T RUIN YOUR LIFE BY WRITING A BOOK. YOU’VE LASTED THIS LONG. WHY NOW?” You know, like they did when I tried to run the New York City Marathon. But instead, I’d been subjecting everyone to the story of my stories. Including poor Ed Connolly Jr., the producer in charge of this segment, and possibly the nicest man on earth, who had clearly been regaling these two literary titans with tales of my upcoming publication.

Out of an abundance of politeness, James Patterson then asked, “Are you writing a memoir?”

“No, no, it’s not a memoir, it’s a collection of essays. Kind of funny, kind of tough stories about my life and childhood and work and you know, that sort of thing,” I stated, in the staccato of a person who has just found out how truly uninteresting she is. Not to mention how insecure I am chatting about writing with two well-published authors. Not just flash in the pan authors, mind you, but one author who is a former president of the United Sates and Rhodes Scholar and another who has written 114 New York Times best sellers, but more importantly wrote the “I want to be a Toys “R” Us kid” jingle as an ad executive. I know when I’m outmatched.

Consternation fell across both men’s faces, as they spoke in tandem, “Why wouldn’t you just write a memoir? It’s so much easier than a book of essays. Yeah, a book of essays, finding the in and out. Oh my. Who’s your cowriter?” The sweat came from my feet, and like a geyser, moved all the way up my body to the top of my head. Hopefully, it’s just menopause, I thought to myself, but I knew that was a lie.

“Oh, um, I am just writing it myself . . . I don’t have a cowriter or anything.” A look of shock landed on both their faces that was hard to describe, although Patterson’s was more one of concern, and Clinton’s was more amusement. I was left to wonder why this stupid commercial break was so long.

So obviously, that was a pretty big sign that I should just give back my advance and give up on my dreams of retirement or best sellers. But I didn’t. Still, the process has been a little bumpy. You should know that by now, you’ve gotten this far in. It’s not too late to quit. Put it down. I’ll wait.

I WENT INTO WORK ON THAT TUESDAY, JULY 20, 2021, DREADING the inevitable. I would announce that I was releasing my first book. A collection of personal essays. A not memoir. I hoped that my tiny announcement was not totally swallowed whole by the GIGANTIC ANNOUNCEMENT from Prince Harry the previous day. I also made sure to preorder his tome, because we promised each other we would preorder each other’s books. I’m kidding, calm down, or you’re definitely not going to make it through the first essay.

Having just removed my PPE, because nowadays working in a television studio is like working in a surgical unit, I was touching up my high-definition makeup, when Live! executive producer, Michael Gelman, came into my dressing room. He immediately struck an impossible yoga pose. His signature squat, in a wide, second position, with his knees quietly tucked behind his shoulder blades. (I know, it doesn’t make sense.) There is something about the door jamb of my dressing room that compels Gelman into a yoga position usually found in the Kama Sutra. Have you ever seen a grown man in a sports coat and skinny jeans doing a solo reverse cowgirl? Certain things cannot be unseen.

Just then, I heard a thunderous crack, and assumed Gelman’s pants had finally succumbed to the pressure. But it was the boy wonder, Ryan Seacrest, bounding out of his dressing lair, squirting something that looked like a urine sample into his hot water. “Hey, we are definitely getting preempted. No doubt. They haven’t even blasted off yet. Are you watching?” What I was watching in front of me was far more intriguing than yet another billionaire space launch, I have to be honest. Give me Kama Sutra Gelman and Seacrest the Urine Sampler over Blue Origin Bezos shooting into space any day of the week. Unless, of course, I’m asked to join in on the space launch. In that case, it’s bye-bye G-man, hello G-force! For a naturally risk-averse person, I sure do love the idea of going into space. And not just substratosphere. I want the full O. As in orbit. Especially now that they’re letting anyone apply, even without a mastery of math and physics. I mean, one no longer needs to be an astronaut to go, but I would rather travel with an astronaut or two on board, just in case there’s intergalactic fuckery.

“Hey, um, are we preempted?” Clearly, if our little television show was getting kicked off the air, I wouldn’t have to announce my book! Then, I could give the money back.

Twenty-plus years of doing this show, and I’m still shocked that there is no sense of urgency backstage on Live! As Frank, our stage manager, gave us the thirty-second warning, I spied Lauren Travaglione, my long-suffering, one-woman, joint chief of staff. She was on the phone with someone, and nervously chewing on her thumb cuticle. The only sign that the shit is hitting the fan is that thumb cuticle. I usually start my day by reading my horoscope, followed by Lauren’s thumb, to judge just how awful things might get. I heard Lauren’s voice elevate, “I need to know right now! We’ve got ten seconds!” I looked toward the thumb—uh-oh . . . that fucker was raw.

We began to walk into the studio, since the show open had begun. I looked back toward Lauren, who said, “Hold off until tomorrow!” Then, her thumb gave me the finger.

We sat at our host chat desk, inside the studio, which, before the pandemic, would have been filled with about three hundred enthusiastic audience members. Now, however, our six in-studio producers were forced to be the members of the audience, albeit exceedingly disinterested ones.

We all sat in nervous awe, waiting for the Blue Origin rocket to launch. We carried on like the show was not preempted, because it wasn’t in a handful of markets in America and three in Canada.

“Hey, can we take a shot of Blue Origin to see if it took off yet?” Ryan asked with his characteristic enthusiasm. That was when our director, Brian Chapman, took the feed from the network to the studio floor, and our audience at home.

Immediately, I was spellbound. Right there, on live national television, and on computer and TV screens across the globe, sat the Blue Origin rocket, which was clearly shaped like a large penis with a rather bulbous head.

My eyes darted around the room, looking to see if anyone was seeing what I was seeing. Was this a joke? Was the control room pranking us by showing us an old clip from Austin Powers? Was Jeff Bezos influenced by all those “back massagers” he sold, then stuffed into boxes to deliver to his clients? Wasn’t anyone paying attention? Was my book announcement preempted by a vibrator?


I heard all six of our producers and three camera people burst out laughing, then, “Excuse me, Kellyripa, what was that?” Ryan giggled.

What? What’d I say? Wait, did I say that out LOUD?! (See? I’m a live one.)

As unreal as the entire shot looked, I couldn’t help but hold my breath watching mission Blue Origin ascend above the clouds.

Even though it wasn’t my first penis of the morning, I was still in awe.

Then, just like at home, after a mere three minutes, the bulbous head of the shuttle came floating back down to Earth, attached to three mega parachutes. What I’m certain was anything but, sure looked like a soft landing to me.

Speaking of soft, my book announcement went from getting upstaged by a prince to being eclipsed by the king of dildo memes.

All of this is a roundabout way of saying: This book was hard for me to write. It was hard for me to announce. I kept getting blocked. Prince Harry. Mark. My kids. Bezos’s cock rocket. But, because I am me and because I never take the easy way out, I didn’t write a memoir. I kept going and wrote these essays, myself, because I figured that my life, as I’ve lived it, as I see it, is hard, too. But it’s easier if we share it.

So, strap one on, folks. I apologize in advance. Actually no, I don’t.



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