The following is an excerpt from my upcoming memoir “Jerry Springer Got Me Pregnant and Maury Povich Will Prove It” which will be coming out just in time for the holiday season in late January. It will make the perfect gift for National Weatherman’s Day on Feb. 5 (screw you, Weatherwomen).
This was August 14, 2003 and my then-fiancé T and I were talking politics and drinking beer at the Hyatt Regency in Buffalo. The city was largely unaffected.
I looked up and saw Jerry enter the room.
“Look there’s Jerry Springer.”
T gave me a look as if to say ‘big deal,’ thinking I was referring to an episode of the Jerry Springer Show on the bar’s television. He swiveled around in his chair and caught sight of the trash TV icon.
Jerry wore a simple pink polo shirt and khaki pants. His hair was perfectly conditioned.
He talked on a cell phone to some stranger in Michigan who didn’t believe the cell phone’s owner that Jerry was there. I wanted to throw my chair and yell obscenities at the cell phone’s owner as a way of paying homage to Jerry, but I saw none of his bodyguards and it wouldn’t have felt quite right without being restrained by them afterwards. I mumbled a quiet, respectful “I’ll bleeping kill you, you bleeping whore.”
“What?” T asked.
A group of young people holding out pens and folders encircled Jerry. Buffalo was also the destination for Young Democrats attending a Young Democrats Convention. Howard Dean seemed to be the favorite although I noticed a few John Kerry buttons. Of course we all know how well things turned out. But I don’t hold Jerry responsible. I never would.
While Jerry signed autographs and basked in the attention of his admirers, I wondered about Reno. Not the city in Nevada, but a transsexual who appeared on Jerry’s show. It just so happened T and I had watched that particular “classic” Springer episode earlier in the day.
Reno was a woman who lived as a man and had sexual relationships with other women who didn’t know Reno’s biological gender. Reno thought it was best to come clean with Danielle, the woman he had been seeing for two months and recently slept with because he thought Danielle should know.
And what better place for total disclosure than the Jerry Springer Show?
Danielle came out to cheers and took her seat next to Reno.
“Ain’t I been good to you baby?” Reno asked holding onto her hand. “The best you ever had?”
Danielle smiled and said “yes” knowing that since this was the Springer show only good surprises were in store for her.
“Well, I’m a woman.”
Jerry handled it perfectly. Usually his golden nuggets of wisdom are saved for the “Final Thought” segment at the end of the show, but he unleashed them left and right, many of them landing squarely on Reno’s ass.
“You have the right to be who you are. . .” Jerry began. I started clapping, a few woo-hoos followed.
“But when you sleep with someone, they have the right to know your gender.”
Yes, Jerry. Slam dunk.
And then the power went out.
T and I were left to wonder whether Danielle and Reno could work things out despite their differences. If these young kids couldn’t make it work, then who could? I wanted to have faith in love. I wanted to believe that even with deception, mangled English and public humiliation, loved prevailed. I wanted Jerry to tell me.
I knew there was a reason why Jerry and I ended up in the same hotel bar miles away from our respective homes in the middle of black-out and Young Democrats convention. It couldn’t just be coincidence.
With the repetitive “Jer-ry. . . Jer-ry. . . Jer-ry” running through my head, I stood up from the table.
“Whoa [Speaker7],” T said. “Where are you going?”
I looked at T and bent over to cup his face wondering how he would react if I told him I really hated Indian food although we continued to celebrate our anniversary at the Indian restaurant where we had our first date. If Reno could offer full disclosure to Danielle didn’t T deserve the same?
“Ain’t I been good to you baby? The best you’ve ever had?”
“You’re drunk, aren’t you,” T replied.
I stumbled over to the crowd surrounding Jerry. I felt I could get closer by body-slamming people. Finally I was face-to-face with my hero, and then my mind went blank, my vision blurred. I squeaked out “Reno?”
Jerry looked perplexed
“I’m sorry, honey, what did you say?”
“Reno. What ever happened to Reno?”
Jerry studied me a moment and said “I think the power outage was mainly limited to the northeast. Thanks for watching.”
And then he was gone, swept up in a tide of Dean supporters.
I turned and T was beside me.
“Let’s go,” he said.
I was disappointed. T said if I cared so much, I could just order a copy of the classic episode and find out the ending that way.
I wanted to believe that Danielle and Reno were sipping pina coladas and laughing about how Danielle called Reno “Fuckin’ disgusting” on the show.