My daughter Charlotte loves the news. She is certainly the best-informed fourteen-year-old I know, and she has a better grasp on what’s going on in the world than most adults.
While on her 8th grade trip to Washington D.C. a few months back, they took a tour of the Pentagon. When the tour guide asked if any of the gathered teens knew the name of the Secretary of Defense, Charlotte was the only one to raise her hand. When she correctly answered Chuck Hagel, the tour guide asked, “young lady, what’s your name?” After Charlotte answered the tour guide continued, “well Charlotte, I ask that same question several times a day, and maybe once a month somebody gets it right. What do you want to be when you grow up?” Without hesitation my daughter replied, “the President of the United States.”
The tour guide smiled and said, “I’ll have to remember your name because you’ve got my vote.”
My work takes me to New York City from time to time, and last summer I brought my son Lewis along when I was speaking at a conference. Last week while planning a similar trip, I asked Charlotte if she would like to accompany me; she enthusiastically agreed.
Charlotte gets her news from several sources. When she was in fourth grade, I came downstairs one morning to find her reading my Wall Street Journal. She looked up at me and said, “this paper is pretty good.” She watches the morning news shows on BBC America and Fox. Her favorite show however is something called The Five which runs from 5:00pm to 6:00pm every afternoon on Fox News.
A brief aside on news… I have a friend in New York City who is a Vice President for a popular entertainment network. She and I were talking recently about the evolution of news in our lifetime and she described it perfectly. She said, “there isn’t any just news anymore. Just like those frozen yogurt places, everyone now gets to decide how they’d like their news served. You can get your news leaning to the left (MSNBC) or leaning to the right (Fox News) or you can get it covered in comedy (The Daily Show or Colbert Report).”
We both agreed that the least colored news still comes from the BBC, but that few Americans have a taste for news without some kind of entertainment mixed in. Have you ever seen someone dispense a bowl of fro-yo and completely skip the “fixins bar?” No, I didn’t think so.
As the trip to New York drew closer, I explained to Charlotte when I would have to be working, and when we would be able to do fun things. Listening intently to the schedule she noticed a pretty big hole in the late afternoon on Wednesday.
This was exactly what she’d been waiting for.
We were going to be staying with my wife’s sister on 48th street near 8th Avenue – basically the northwest corner of Times Square. Charlotte put all this information together and said, “Dad, I want to go over to the News Corp building and meet all the people on The Five.”
I explained to her that famous people sightings are common in Manhattan, but to strategically seek out specific people at specific times and in specific places is much harder. Raising only her eyes from something she was reading, she looked at me and said “Dad, get me to the building… I’ll do the rest.”
At 5:00am this past Wednesday, we pulled out of the driveway and headed to the city. We stopped in northern New Jersey where I had a lunch meeting. Charlotte sat down the street at a Starbucks, drinking Frappuchinos and doing her summer AP History homework.
By 2:00pm we were crossing the George Washington Bridge into Manhattan.
We parked the car, caught up with my wife’s sister Carrie, and hung out for a little while. A few minutes before 4:00pm, Charlotte tapped her left wrist and said “Dad, we’ve got to go.”
Her plan was simple. She had heard that some of the hosts of The Five sometimes hang out at the studio door in the hour before the show. If she could find the studio door she could find the people. She reasoned that, “they have to go in to do the show, and when it’s over they have to come out. I will introduce myself, shake their hand and say hi. Then they will have to let me take a picture.” She was so sure of herself that if disappointment came, it was going to be crushing.
Carrie’s apartment was only three blocks from the News Corp building, but as we walked I tried to manage her expectations. New York can be a cruel place, no matter the depth of your belief or tenacity.
As it often is in July, New York was hot, and the three-block walk had us sweating by the time we arrived at our destination. We entered the main doors of the building to enjoy a few minutes of air conditioning, while Charlotte walked right up to the security desk to inquire about the location of the studio door. They were not helpful.
So, out into the street we went…
and after a little detective work we found it.
Just as she predicted, there was Bob Beckel, sitting in a chair right outside the studio door.
Beckel was talking to someone already, but as we waited, Eric Bolling came walking up. Charlotte stepped forward while assertively saying “Mr. Bolling.” He stopped and we had a nice 2-3 minute conversation.
We then turned to Bob Beckel who was very gracious, and in the absence of anyone else approaching him, we had a fifteen-minute chat with him, which was ended only by a producer coming out and dragging him into the studio.
While all this was happening, I got a text from my nephew Nate who I was trying to meet up with. He suggested a bar literally fifty feet from where we were standing at the studio door. So, as the program got underway, we went to meet Nate.
Nate and I chatted over beers and Charlotte enjoyed a Shirley Temple.
At 5:50, Charlotte said to me, “Dad, I’m going across the street to meet the other people as they come out of the studio.” Off she went.
While I was finishing up with Nate, she managed to meet Greg Gutfeld.
Ten minutes later when I caught up with her, we both noticed Dana Perino as she walked out of the building.
When all was said and done, she met and got pictures with four of the six stars of the show.
I saw this picture on the Internet earlier this week:
As morbidly funny as it is, it is also sad. Children, even fourteen-year-old girls, still possess the optimistic wonder and hope that fades with every year we grow and mature. Charlotte wasn’t afraid of New York City nor the “famous people” she sees on TV every afternoon. She wanted to meet them… and she did.
The next time somebody suggests to you that something isn’t possible (even if that somebody is you), ignore them… anything is possible, and you can make it happen.
Copyright © 2014 - Stephen S. Nazarian - All rights reserved.