In Her Words
Martha Stewart and Me
My name gets me into the audience of a Martha Stewart Show
-April Daniels Hussar
The email arrived about a month ago from a friend of mine … The Martha Stewart show is looking for people named April for Martha’s ALL APRIL show on April 1st!
Why, I thought, giddily, THAT’S MY NAME! How about that? I eagerly clicked the link and filled out the ticket request form. I will confess to you, dear Bettys, when it came time to answer Do you subscribe to any Martha Stewart Living publications? I, like a total and complete idiot, opened up another browser, subscribed to Martha Stewart Living, and then went back and clicked the YES box. I know. LIKE THEY WOULD REALLY CHECK.
I should probably say here … I have a complicated relationship with Martha Stewart. (Of course, it’s made even more complicated by the fact that she does not have a relationship with me, at all. Hi, Martha!) Prior to my SUBSCRIPTION, I did indeed buy her magazines now and then. When I was planning my wedding, I pored eagerly and lustfully over the exquisite perfection on the MS Wedding pages. In fact, my mom and I modeled my own handmade wedding dress off one we saw in MS Weddings. I even once applied for a JOB at MarthaStewart.com. So yes, you could say that I’m a fan.
On the other hand, I am also not a true fan, because I find the aforementioned exquisite perfection, well, distressing. Even if I didn’t work full-time, I would never, ever, EVER find the time to appliqué hand-blown Easter eggs. I just don’t have that gene. So, much like perusing the pages of Vogue makes me feel fat and poor; perusing the pages of Martha Stewart Living makes me feel sloppy and lazy. You see the dilemma.
But I digress … I WAS GOING TO THE MARTHA STEWART SHOW! When I got the email confirmation, I felt like Charlie with the golden ticket. First off, they wanted to know if I had a story to share about how I got my name.
Well, I was born on April 18th.
So …. Yeah.
I emailed my mom and dad (who have been divorced just about my entire life – naming me was pretty much their major collaborative accomplishment) to see if perhaps they could come up with a better story, one that would set me apart from all the other Aprils that were sure to be there with April birthdays.
Because T. S. Eliot called April the cruelest month.
No. I have always loved the beginning of spring.
Martha Stewart is a criminal.
(As you can see he missed his true calling as a comedian.)
My mom wrote:
OH MY GOSH! Because you were born on Easter and because your dad forbade me to name you Rose!!
Ok, well, whatever, I was going to not only be in Martha’s hallowed studio but surrounded by APRILS. What a wonderfully bizarre way to start off my favorite month – the obviously superior month.
The day dawned. I had been instructed via email to “dress to impress” – which apparently in TV-land means NO LOGOS (darn, there went my plan to wear my “ARE YOU READY TO BETTY” T-shirt, send millions of Martha fans to BettyConfidential.com, and immediately become the Betty founders’ favorite person. Foiled!), no black, no white, and lots of BRIGHT colors. So basically I had nothing to wear. I settled on a cute dress and boots with a bright fuchsia cashmere cardigan that – dig the irony – I originally bought last year for my MarthaStewart.com job interview! I know.
I arrived outside the Martha Stewart studios in Manhattan as instructed at 8:30 a.m. I made friends with the April to my left, who, as it turns out works for COACH (Hi April, remember me? Your new best friend?). She was not born in April. Neither were the two Aprils right behind me. But the April in front of us was – in fact THAT VERY DAY was her birthday. “Is that why they named you April,” she mocked, and I heard myself in her exasperation.
YES, PEOPLE, THAT IS WHY THEY NAMED US APRIL.
We made our way inside, where, after passing through security, we were handed bright yellow Lands’ End raincoats and nametags that read, “HI MY NAME IS … APRIL.” I know. Of course, I had to update my Facebook status immediately:
8:46am – April Daniels Hussar: is at the Martha Stewart show with a bunch of Aprils! All Aprils! Too bizarre.
9:03am – Susan L: Fun! Where are u sitting ? I will look for u in the audience
9:16am – Gabrielle C: awesome!!!!!
9:22am – April Daniels Hussar: We haven’t been seated yet — we’re all wearing matching yellow rain coats and name tags! Too funny.
9:23am – Gabrielle C: that is the coolest thing ever! and sooooo martha stewart-y
9:23am – Bridgette R: Sounds culty, have fun!
Bridgette, you are totally right – it did feel culty!
I spent the waiting time just gawking at all the APRILS everywhere … look, that April is having her photo taken in front of the giant picture of Martha Stewart! Look, that April is actually an “Aprille!” FINALLY – the last group of Aprils was ushered into the hallway. Then up some stairs. And then up some more stairs. And, at last … we emerged, into the bright beautiful perfect gloriousness of the Martha Stewart studio set, where the rest of the Aprils sat waiting, a shining vision of cheery yellow. I tell you, it was an awesome sight. I want to live here, I thought, as I was herded to my seat, as I gazed at the perfect stage kitchen, the perfect stage crafts area, the perfect stage greenhouse area … it was a dream-come-true of utter domestic bliss. Truly.
Various PAs milled around, instructing us perkily yet firmly to hide our bags under our chairs, to zip our raincoats up just a bit more, to make sure – “THANKS LADIES!” – our nametags were visible.
I marveled at the activity on set … is that fellow polishing the leaves of that plant? Is that woman dusting the already spotless counter with her scarf?
And then it was time … 5 – 4 -3 – 2 -1 … SHE EMERGED! There was Martha Stewart, in the flesh, walking across her blissfully perfect studio, acknowledging our enthusiastic standing ovation (as per the stage manager who waved his arms wildly). My first thought was Wow she’s really pretty! Yes, Martha Stewart is a looker, people. Much prettier in person I would venture.
The rest of the show was a delightful blur. They played April Fools jokes on Martha - Look! Green vegetable dye in the eggs she just cracked! An audience plant (comedian April Winchell, posing as Martha’s “crafter’ guest) blew embossing dust all over the place! Oh, you tricksters, you! Anil Kapoor (the game-show host from Slumdog Millionaire) taught us how to make Black Daal, and April Bloomfield from the NYC “gastro pub” the Spotted Pig made cheese beignets with Martha (which, to my dismay, we did not get to try). They told us when to say MMMMMM, and we cheerfully obliged (though the words “trained seal” did flash across my mind more than once). As instructed, we took our raincoats off for segment 5, hid them under our chairs with our unsightly bags, and then put them on again. We were a very obliging group of Aprils.
And, of course, as with all good things, the show came to an end. They corralled us into a group photo with Martha, who then disappeared back out the way she came. They ushered us Aprils out in groups, handed us goodie bags, and sent us on our way, clad in yellow slickers.
Until next year, Martha?
(p.s. – you can watch the full episode at MarthaStewart.com. And no I don’t think you can see me … I managed to get seated in a camera-blind spot!)