By Tracy Clark
“I’m ready for my closeup, Mr. DeMille.”
I had the great honor and pleasure recently of taping an author segment for my local PBS station WTTW to run during their upcoming annual mystery marathon. I’m a longtime PBS mystery fan and love the programming, so I was jazzed to be invited to take part. It was great fun. Everyone was so nice. Cameras rolled. I was miked up, made up, dressed up. I was not ready.
Anyone who knows me knows I live like a troll under a bridge. I am a writer. Writers are like winter bears who creep out of a dark, dank cave once a year with sweat-stained novel pages clutched in their paws to blink at the sun like we’ve never seen it before. The light hurts our eyes. Stuff’s way too green. There are chirpy little feathery things out in the world yapping about worms and whatnot. Most of us are way too cynical (jaded?) to appreciate any of it.
So, lights, camera, action was an adjustment. Pleasant after the fact, a little terrifying in the moment. Anyway, I survived. I didn’t faint, my eyes didn’t glaze over, I didn’t go catatonic like Cindy Brady did on that game show episode of “The Brady Bunch.” I did the thing. I think. I had a moment to talk a bit about my work, my books, and then to extoll the virtues of my favorite PBS mystery series “Father Brown.” (I may have mentioned Mrs. McCarthy’s award-winning scones.) I say may because I have absolutely no recollection of what I actually said while the cameras were rolling. Shout-out to the consummate professional Cheryl Hamada, my interviewer, for moving me along and making me feel comfortable. I hope I made sense. If I didn’t, don’t tell me, just let it goooo.
Anyway, the second coolest thing about the day was the fact that the taping took place at the Red Lion Pub in Chicago. The Red Lion’s a real English-style pub with a uber-cool library feel.
There’s dark wood everywhere, slouchy chairs perfect for easing back in to read a book, vintage art on the walls, delicious fish and chips, an impressive-looking bar. Oh, did I fail to mention it’s known for being, like, haunted?
Chicago has a reputation in some paranormal circles for being kinda spooky. Something to do with ghosts liking to travel by water and us being like right on the lake. So, apparently, first stop Chi-Town for the USS Poltergeist! One of the more famous spirits at the Red Lion is a young woman who hangs out in the 2nd floor bathroom crying and wailing to beat the band.
Weepy Wendy (I named her that—I’ve no idea what name she goes by, and I’m not asking) is a real jokester, too. She, reportedly, loves to lock the door to the ladies’ room so you can’t get in. (Personally, I’d be more concerned with being on the inside of the ladies’ room when this happens, but that’s just me.) Wendy’s not alone at the Red Lion. She has friends. But in addition to the yummy fish and chips on offer, there are also good hamburgers on the menu at the Red Lion, so you decide what’s important to you.
Luckily, I didn’t see Wendy or her friends during my brush with celebrity. If she was waiting for me to trek it to the 2ndfloor ladies’ room to freshen up my camera-ready makeup (that’s for another blog entry), she was sadly disappointed. I’m from Chicago, Wendy. I’m way ahead of ya.
Anyone out there ever had a close encounter with the otherworldly?