J. E.: (clearing throat) J. E., I’d like to establish up front that I watch Love Connection, myself, just to reassure you that this isn’t going to be one of those holier-than-thou interviews. So what’s your main reason for watching Love Connection?
J. E.: It’s on during my dinner hour. Which means I’m usually waiting for a pizza delivery from Ralph’s, or Chinese from West Side Cottage, or Mexican from Ariba!Ariba! I hate to cook. But I get really hungry. I love to eat.
J. E.: Yet you’re not overweight. Why is that?
J. E.: I swim. Anyway, I’m voraciously hungry. I can’t concentrate. I can’t even talk on the phone. I feel helpless because I have no control over how long I’ll have to wait for the delivery. Twenty minutes, or forty? I once waited ninety-five minutes.
J. E.: Ninety-five minutes? Wow!
J. E.: But that’s not all. I can’t control whether the food will arrive hot, lukewarm, or ice cold, or whether it’ll even be my order. Will it be egg drop soup, not wonton? Mushroom pizza, not onion? Bean burrito, not beef? Bean, I say. I spell it out. B-E-A-N. They deliver beef one out of every three times. I haven’t eaten red meat in years. I can’t eat a beef burrito. I’d get sick. I call the restaurant. They argue with me. Beef they say, you said beef. I argue back, Why would I say beef when I don’t eat red meat? I wait another thirty minutes for them to return with the bean burrito.
J. E.: To return to Love Connection?
J. E.: Love Connection distracts me, takes the edge off. It’s like a TV beta blocker.
J. E.: A TV beta blocker! Wow! Now, my next question … it’s very personal, but I think it needs to be asked. I’ve heard from reliable sources that you had a bout with depression this year. So I’m wondering whether the … depression … contributed in any way to your watching Love Connection?
J. E.: (Very long pause) I went to a psychopharmacologist who put me on Prozac. It made me worse. I shuttled around from one arrogant psychopharmacologist to another, spending a fortune, taking various pills. Nothing helped. Take me off all your goddamned medication, I said. I wanted to be me again. I was so overmedicated, I was a zombie. I couldn’t do anything: write a letter; make a phone call; pay a bill; walk across my living room. But I could always watch Love Connection.
J. E.: Thank you, J. E., for your honesty. So, does Love Connection help you to feel better about your own life?
J. E.: Yes! I remind myself, while I’m watching it, that no matter how bad things may get for me, at least I’m not one of those desperate people who believe they’ll find true love on a Love Connection blind date. I’m not the 22-year-old blonde aerobics instructor who was “immediately turned off” to her date, “the minute he stepped out of his car, because he brought me one red rose instead of, like, a dozen, which is a real sign of a cheapskate.” And I am not her date, who was then humiliated on national TV. And I am not a member of the Love Connection studio audience, that childish, sexually frustrated mass of humanity shouting, Number One, Number Two, Number Three, as they help the person choosing a date to decide among Kimmie, Kammie, Pammy, Billy, Bobby, or Buddy.
J. E.: Wow! I appreciate how candid you’re being. Because I’ve heard you can be difficult during interviews.
J. E.: (Long pause) Difficult? Who said that? (Pause) Okay, let me guess. That guy from the right-wing Staten Island newspaper? The one who drooled and put his hand on my knee. (Pause) Okay, don’t tell me. I’m sure it was him. (Pause) Okay. Forget it. Maybe it was someone else. It’s just because I’m principled, idealistic, direct, and honest. You know, Edith Wharton was thought to be difficult, too.
J. E.: Really? Edith Wharton?
J. E.: Yes.
J. E.: Speaking of Edith Wharton, J. E., did you see the movie of Ethan Frome?
J. E.: Yes.
J. E.: What did you think?
J. E.: Liam Neeson was great. What did you think?
J. E.: Same thing. But anyway, here’s another Love Connection question. What do you think of the show’s host, Chuck Woolery?
J. E.: Pure, unadulterated sleaze. That absurd pompadour, those capped teeth, his snide, condescending comments.
J. E.: You don’t find him sexy?
J. E.: No. Yuck. What a thought. (Long pause) But you find him sexy, don’t you? That’s why you asked, isn’t it?
J. E.: No, I don’t find him sexy.
J. E.: I don’t believe you.
J. E.: This is ridiculous. Let’s move on.
J. E.: You’re lying. Chuck Woolery turns you on.
J. E.: Please. I have one last question for you.
J. E.: Shoot.
J. E.: Off the top of your head, why else do you watch Love Connection?
J. E.: Because … I’m immature?
J. E.: Really? I’m surprised to hear you say that. Critics call your writing highly intellectual.
J. E.: I don’t mean intellectually. I’m pretty mature intellectually. But, here’s one example. I still get crushes on rock stars. That’s somewhat immature.
J. E.: Somewhat? That sounds very immature to me.
J. E.: Having a crush on Chuck Woolery isn’t exactly the height of maturity, either.
J. E.: (Long pause) Let’s get back to this issue of your intellectual maturity, shall we?
J. E.: Whatever.
J. E.: (Long pause) Well, critics have referred to your work as cool, cutting edge, fiercely intellectual …
J. E.: So what’s your point?
J. E.: My point …
J. E.: Look, I’m not trying to be difficult here. And I’m sorry if I insulted you about Chuck Woolery. I was just being honest, speaking my mind.
J. E.: You didn’t insult me, J. E., since Chuck Woolery means nothing to me.
J. E.: Right.
J. E.: Look, all I’m getting at is this—being so intellectual and all—what’s the deal with Love Connection and this so-called great intellect of yours? I mean, what gives?
J. E.: Well, as a cool, cutting edge intellectual, I appreciate both irony and camp. Love Connection is an ironic, campy comment on the decline of Western Civilization.
J. E.: Oh, come on, J. E.—the decline of Western Civilization?
J. E.: I’m serious.
J. E.: Well, what about feminism?
J. E.: Are you asking me if feminism is an ironic, campy comment on the decline of Western Civilization? What a weird question.
J. E.: No, that’s not what I’m asking. What I’m asking is—some critics have described your work as having a feminist stance. So where does Love Connection fit into that? That’s what I want to know!
J. E.: There are moments when feminism enters the world of Love Connection, like the time the travel agent from Venice Beach was enraged because her Love Connection blind date expected her to go into the mosh pit with him in her high heels.
J. E.: He wanted her to go into the mosh pit with him?
J. E.: Yes. In her high heels. But there’s one other thing I have to say about why I watch Love Connection: There’s something unfulfilled within me, a part of me that’s always yearning, although what it is I yearn for, I don’t know. But for thirty minutes, Love Connection temporarily appeases my yearning, in a way that Prozac never did.
J. E.: That’s a powerful statement, J. E. I think this is as good a place as any to wrap things up. Thank you! Really! This has been a fine interview. I apologize for being defensive about Chuck Woolery. (Laughs)
J. E.: (Laughs) Way to go, girl! Way to go!
J. E.: This interview should certainly put an end to those rumors that you’re difficult.
J. E.: Like I said, they called Edith Wharton difficult, too.
J. E.: By the way, J. E., I just love your earrings. Where did you get them?
J. E.: One night, when Love Connection was over, the yearning returned. I took a long walk. I passed a street vendor. I bought these from him, and at that moment, my yearning was temporarily appeased.
J. E.: Well, they’re great, especially with your Louise Brooks haircut. What are they made of?
J. E.: Papier mache.
J. E.: Wow! They’re better than Prozac, too. (Turns off tape recorder)