So, over the weekend, flyers appeared in the downtown of my hometown, Iowa City, Iowa. They depicted a golden cornfield that spread beneath the words: Keep Iowa Nice, Call ICE. Then the poster showed the ICE hotline. I made a public post on Facebook, where I called this stuff disgusting.
Not for nothing, people pay attention to public fb posts. This is the second occasion the press has contacted me about one of mine. This time it was a local TV station who wanted to hear from me, as a private citizen who was concerned about the flyers. I said, “D’Ohkay.” They said, “Let’s meet in a hour.”
Now, I must pause here to say that I have not cut my hair since before Christmas. I’m teaching a double load of accelerated classes online. I’ve got a yoga injury to my hamstring. Any makeup I own has probably cracked or molded. And in fact, I suspect I look a bit like a foundling. “James!” I said. James is my husband. “James, I need the mall!” It had been snowing all day. The roads looked like frosting. But James dropped everything, so he could drive my Florida ass through the snow, to the mall’s quick-clip salon, where I said, “Please. I have to be on TV in an hour.” The stylist arched an eyebrow. The ladies with the tinfoil in their hair looked up. The stylist asked why I would be on TV, and I told her. And she said, “What are you going to say?” And I had no idea.
She said to me, “ICE isn’t bad. Illegals are dangerous.” And I started to talk. I talked to the whole salon. The lady snipped the scissors with a little more force than she needed. But maybe she was just rushing. She gave me a nice do. And besides, in a way, she also gave me my news spiel. So I gave her a good tip. Then I scrammed off to Walgreens, where I bought some reasonable makeup and one of those Flawless Baldy Magic devices that will painlessly rip the hair off your face for only $19.95. Back in the car, now, I looked up immigration stats on my cellphone. James almost drove into a median.
I clutched the armrest. I’d never spoken extemporaneously on TV. What if I froze? What if I said something wrong? What if I said something inane? And then I said to myself, “Meggie. This is a test. Can you be more than a Facebook crank?” And I talked some points over with James, who is the best idea-man and sounding board ever. And then he dropped me off at the interview site. And then the TV lady, who was very nice, stood me out in the falling snow, where I wore my navy-periwinkle peacoat that puts some navy-periwinkle in my eyes. And she asked me what I thought, and I said: “Well. These flyers aren’t Iowa nice at all. It isn’t nice to terrorize and detain our immigrants. And really, true Iowa Nice is about our abolitionist heritage and our legalizing gay marriage before just about anybody else. And if you want to talk about nice, the word, it actually has two meaning, where it an also imply clean or well-appointed. So what exactly are these guys trying to cleanse here?” And then, after some more questions, I said, “The fact is that, according to the Cato Institute, undocumented immigrants commit 60 percent fewer crimes than their so-called native-born counterparts. And if you want to talk about native-born, most of these southern immigrants have far more Native American blood than any of us true migrants.” So there. And the journalist said, “That was very eloquent!” And I said, “Thank you.” And then James and I left her to celebrate at the Basta Italian restaurant.
Well. I told you everything I said, because you can’t see it on TV. You can’t see any of me on TV. After all my prepping and primping and periwinkle pea-coat parading, I didn’t show up in the news spot at all. It was a good story. The piece featured comments from actual Hispanic people—and I can’t fault anybody for replacing me with them. But you know? I think I also over prepped. In fact, I think I over-lectured for a 5-second time spot. And I might also have lectured at 500 mph. Sound bytes are tough, dearies. I think I’ll stick to essays. But I tell you what: I delivered a deposition on an hour’s prep time. And I did not freeze, and I did not say something wrong, and I did not say anything inane. *And* I have leftover fettuccini in the Fridge; an “oh, sh*t!” make-up kit in the bathroom; and absolutely no hair on my face. Except my eyebrows.