Monday, September 8, 2008

Phoning Molly

Molly Ringwald was coming to town, starring in a touring production of Sweet Charity, and the young men of the San Jose media community were freaking out.

"One of them said he's afraid he'll start drooling halfway through the interview," said the PR agent, who was clearly enjoying all the hoo-hah around her latest assignment.

As the senior journalist in the bunch, I had a distinct advantage. About the time that Molly was making her mark in The Breakfast Club and Pretty in Pink, I was in college, and in that superior way that college men adopt, had no time for some teenage actress.

Looking into Molly's post-stardom bio, though, I found something pretty intriguing. She had a propensity for hooking up with (and, on one occasion, marrying) novelists, and had surprised everyone in Connecticut by writing a series of book reviews for the Hartford Courant. Apparently, the woman who always played the strange-but-smart girl actually was a strange-but-smart girl. That afternoon, I called the interview number - a rehearsal hall in Boise - and we were introduced. After covering some expected subjects regarding the show (singing in her dad's jazz band, honing her dancing skills), I told her I was a novelist and really appreciated her enthusiasm for the form.

"Oh!" she said. "What kind of books do your write?"

"Literary, mainstream. They're sort of slice-of-life, a lot of contemporary issues."

"So what's your latest about?"

"It's called Frosted Glass. It's about a Silicon Valley woman who..."

You can see where this was going. I had succeeded in getting myself interviewed by Molly Ringwald! Sadly, on the cusp of launching into a digression about mythological motifs in modern narrative, a little switch went off in my head, and I realized two things: 1) I had been granted only 15 minutes for this interview, and 2) I had not yet obtained enough material for my article.

"Geez, Molly, as much as I love talking about my writing, I think I need to ask you some more questions about the show."

"Oh. Okay. Sure."

She actually sounded disappointed - and it's easy to figure why. Considering the cold realities of a national tour, she probably had to conduct one of these interview sessions for each new city - repeating the same snappy quotes to several different reporters at a sitting. (And I hate to think of the lame questions the droolers came up with.) I flatter myself to think that she much preferred talking about my latest book.

Thanks, Molly, for turning the tables. Don't you forget about me.

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