Existential Friday

Last Friday was one of those days when I asked myself, “Why am I here?” Not in the existential sense, but literally.

Why am I at a restaurant in West Hollywood in the middle of the day when I should be home doing real work?

I had been invited to interview Brooke Burke at Cecconi’s restaurant in West Hollywood. She is working with Oral B and Oral B is working with Operation Smile. In retrospect, Operation Smile on its own was a good reason to be there. Oral B is giving Operation Smile enough funds for 100 surgical procedures to correct facial deformities. It’s wonderful, but I didn’t know that when I said I would go.

In all honesty, I’m sort of fascinated by Brooke Burke. She’s my age and also from Tucson. She used to play with one of my good friends when they were kids. Brooke turned out to be very nice and honest about how it’s not easy to be a working mom with four kids. The interview went well, and as a bonus, I had a lovely breakfast and was able to chat with a group of interesting writers who had come for the interviews.

Later, after trying to run my family errands in West Hollywood and being stuck in traffic most of the morning, I picked up my kids from school and took them to a birthday party. After a couple of hours we picked up my husband and headed back to West Hollywood for another event where I was again posed with the question, “What am I doing here?”

Whenever I get an invitation to an event I’m always skeptical because I automatically think of Woody Allen in Annie Hall quoting Groucho Marx. “I would never want to belong to any club that would have someone like me for a member.” Or, during my most insecure moments, “I would never want to go to a party that would have me on the exclusive guest list.” Wow, was I wrong here (like I am most of the time).

The family and I went to a giant, over the top, fabulous party for The Hub, a new network that is the joint venture of the Discovery Network and Hasbro toys. It launches Sunday, Oct. 10. I must say, I have mixed feelings about a network co-created by a toy company. There is already so much product placement in television shows. Now there are shows based on existing products including Transformers and GI Joe.

But on the other hand, they do sell Sesame Street, Dinosaur Train, and Sid the Science Kid Toys. What’s the difference? And not only that, the Hub is bringing back Fraggle Rock and Batman Beyond. And we do love the Discovery Channel. Already, my kids can’t get enough of a Hub show we previewed called “The Wot Wots.”

It was hard to ponder these questions too deeply with a glass of wine in one hand and a crab cake in the other. My kids didn’t know where to look or what do first. When we walked in to the outdoor party there was a giant Transformer next to a steep slide that my younger, daredevil son figured out was even faster if he took off his shoes. Next to that was a giant screen showing a loop of all of the Hub shows. After staring with their mouths open they soon were stuffing them with fruit on a stick and chocolate covered marshmallows.

Hopped up on sugar, my boys jumped in the ball pit and hopefully got a little exercise wading around.

As a family, we completely lost our minds. My husband has Celiac Disease and could only safely eat one hors d’ oeuvre so instead he feasted at the dessert and sundae bar. No gluten in ice cream, chocolate, raspberries, and (hopefully) M & Ms. My kids wouldn’t eat anything but sweets and I stuck to Chardonnay. But the worst part was when I left my husband and sons in a line to play a life-size Connect 4 (for the new show “Family Game Night”) while I stalked Eric McCormack. He was there to promote the original Hub show “Pound Puppies” where he is the voice of an animated puppy. After circling him for a few minutes I said something nonsensical and managed to blurt out that I wanted to have my picture taken with him. For what? My scrapbook. Oh, no for my blog. I’m now one of those people who post pictures of herself with celebrities. Nice.

At the end of the day I sat in my living room surrounded by the gifts that Hub and Oral B had presented me and my family. An electric toothbrush, a belly belt that will flatten my stomach, board games, toys. Most of it is going to the women’s shelter, but we’re keeping one of the board games, a “Wot Wot” toy for each child, and the belly buster for me.