Whoever thought I couldn’t possibly cry for a country I’ve never been to, especially for one that isn’t suffering from war, famine, genocide, drought, poverty or the Tea Party, sorely misjudged me.
For four days last week, I wept openly while watching Oprah’s TV shows shot during her recent visit to Australia. I’m not sure if it was for Oprah, the 302 audience members who were along for the ride, or for the Aussies whom the editors of the show led me to believe have done little else in their lives besides watch Oprah and wait for her to show up Down Under, but I went through several boxes of Kleenex and roughly a dozen sleeves of Oreos (I couldn’t find any Tim Tams).
I’m not a particular fan of Nicole Kidman, Hugh Jackman, Keith Urban, Russell Crowe or Olivia Newton-John (although to be honest, what’s there not to like about Olivia Newton-John?), and yet when they got up on stage outside the Sydney Opera House with a children’s choir and sang “America the Beautiful” (except, you know, it was sung to a different tune and the lyrics were all about Australia instead of America), I sobbed. And when some woman who, if I heard correctly, drove 30 days just to get somewhere to where she could mail a letter to Oprah stood up in the audience as a special guest, I thought I’d have to call a plumber to turn off the waterworks from my eyes and, yes, my nose.
Some guy learned how to scuba dive in literally 15 minutes so he could propose to his girlfriend underwater. Jay-Z surprised a school full of underprivileged boys, who, along with their teachers, were all later gifted with laptop computers. One woman told Oprah before she told her husband that she was pregnant after struggling with infertility for two years. Oprah cuddled two aboriginal toddlers so precious they put the Gerber baby to shame.
Why I cried, and for whom my tears were actually shed, when Bono and the Edge gave Oprah a guitar backstage at a U2 concert in Sydney is beyond me. I mean, who, exactly is the biggest star in that scenario? Bono was bowing down to Oprah, and she gushed over his sunglasses. It might be a draw, which is something to which I’m guessing neither is accustomed.
I cried when Oprah cried because the letter “O” was lit up on the Sydney Harbour Bridge in her honor, mostly, I think, because it’s so rare that special things happen to Oprah. When Oprah, her staff and viewers broke a world record for how many people climbed the bridge at once, I also cried. And when Oprah got annoyed because the helicopter meant to get a shot of them posing on the bridge but had to refuel first, resulting in her waiting at the top for an extra 21 minutes, I cried for the pilot. After all, it can’t feel good to be the person who keeps Oprah waiting.
To be completely honest, all of my crying wasn’t even reserved for the actual show. I was fast-forwarding past one of the promos for what was coming up in the next segment and my eyes welled up during that, too. It was something about a bald man, his wife and a YouTube video.
Fortunately, from years and years of watching Oprah, I am actually able to deconstruct and understand the reason for my tears. Some of them were undoubtedly from envy; I’d love to travel to Australia, particularly as Oprah’s guest. I’d also love to have Oprah surprise me and come over for dinner just as she did with two Aussie viewers, just as long as it wasn’t left overnight and just as long as it wasn’t one of those days when my toddler thinks she’s being clever by emptying out the contents of her toy bins on every available walking surface in the house.
What vindicated my emotions ultimately, though, was catching up on “Season 25: Oprah Behind the Scenes,” on the new Oprah Winfrey Network, over the weekend. In the episode that went behind the scenes of Oprah and her best friend Gayle’s “camping” trip to Yosemite National Park — you know, they roughed it like most of us do when we camp, with roasted sea bass and rosemary potatoes, a crew to shop for their gear and groceries, and producers on hand to keep the crowds away at bay when they went sightseeing — a production assistant lamented that the park ranger they surprised didn’t have the proper “Oprah” reaction upon seeing the television icon.
In other words, he didn’t cry. But that’s OK. I did enough for the both of us, and then some.
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