First, Joel Stein, famed columnist from “Time” Magazine and all around cute, tall, good guy, promised me he’d drive closer to my side of town than the first time we met.
I ended up still driving 45 minutes from my house to a rapist coffee place. I didn’t get raped, but I felt like I might, the vibe was not 100% unrape.
For this reason, I parked my car in the valet parking inside the building, which cost me $16.00. I sure hope my husband doesn’t read that.
Joel was late, upping the rape possibility factor.
When he got there, I asked him if we could go somewhere where Jodie Foster’s character in “The Accused” would not have to lawyer up. He said “yes” and we walked next door to a waffle place where I put away my Barbie mace and Hello Kitty pink tazer gun.
I ordered a fruit plate with a side of bacon and a latte, but I quickly asked Joel if it was okay if I got bacon. He asked me if he was the first Jewish person I’d ever met. I said no, I sleep with a half Jewish husband every night, but I didn’t know if he ate pork and I didn’t want to gross him out.
Joel said “Bacon is delicious. Everybody eats bacon.”
Joel ordered iced tea and a red velvet waffle with cream cheese frosting on it. This is 10am and no, we were not high on ganja. This was Joel’s real, grown-up order.
And his gentle palate can’t handle coffee, he only drinks tea. Did I mention he’s writing a book on becoming a man?
Here were my interview questions and Joel’s answers (paraphrased because I didn’t have a recording device. Just weapons.)
Heidi Ferrer: What is the title of your upcoming book?
Joel Stein: “Man Made.”
Me: What is it about? Is is humor writing?
Joel: It’s stupid adventures of me trying to become a man. The kind of stuff I write.
Me: If I ever get a book published…I mean when, will you blurb me?
Me: Yay. Has having a young son (Lazlo, age 2 with wife Cassandra Barry) helped you on your quest to become a man?
Joel: That’s in the book, because I was freaked out by having a boy.
Me: Really? Why?
Joel: I didn’t know what to do with a boy, how to raise one. I wasn’t good at traditional boy things growing up…sports, camping…those “boy” things were difficult for me.
Me: Do you consider yourself a writer or a journalist or both?
Me: Was your book your idea? Did you get offered the job, or did you have to pitch it to sell it to a publisher?
Joel: I pitched it in New York to 9 editors in one day. I started at 7am.
It was set up, my people set it up like a silent auction, they all had to bid by the next day, but couldn’t know what the others bid. One bid was way higher.
Me: I heard a rumor that you’re going to replace Andy Rooney on “60 Minutes” now that he’s retiring. Is that true?
Joel: No, my parents would like me to. I don’t know if “60 Minutes” is going to replace Andy Rooney’s job at all.
Me: So it would have to be a write-in campaign for you to get it?
Joel: (Laughs) Yes, a write-in campaign of just me and my parents.
Me: I think you’d be good in that job. Do you have a 5 year plan for your career?
Joel: No, I don’t know if magazines will exist in five years.
Me: So, no five year plan?
Joel: I guess you could say I don’t believe in them.
Me: Have you ever been yelled at or assaulted for something you’ve written?
Joel: Not hit. Being yelled at is assault.
Me: True, it’s verbal assault.
Joel: Never physically assaulted. I have been yelled at a lot for stuff I’ve written.
Me: Would you ever take your son Lazlo to Hooters?
Me: But the chicken wings…never mind. Would you ever take your son to a strip club?
Joel: No. Well, I thought it would be funny to take him when he was a baby, because that was his food (i.e. milk). But they probably wouldn’t let a baby in there, would they?
Me: How am I supposed to know, Joel? (*voice inside my head: It’s not like I just wrote a blog about falling in love with a stripper named Yanna!*)
No, they don’t allow a baby in a bar.
Would you encourage Lazlo to become a writer, someday? If not, what would you encourage him to do?
Joel: He can decide to do whatever he wants.
Me: How long do you get to write your columns in “Time?”
Joel: As long as I want. I have a column every other week, but I can basically do it on my own timeline.
Me: Are the ideas for your columns yours, or do you get an assignment?
Joel: The ideas are mine. That’s part of the job. But I do have to run it by my editor.
Me: Do you mind if I ask how much you’re paid for it?
Joel: No, you can ask me anything. That depends. I’m paid by the word.
Me: Seriously? Who decides how many words are in each column?
Joel: They decide how many words they want in advance.
Me: So you agree to terms before you do the work? It’s like being a hooker!
Joel: (laughs) It’s exactly like that.
Me: Do they reject your ideas sometimes?
Joel: Yes. Sometimes they reject a whole column and I have to re-write it. They give me ideas. There are really three editors. And the copy desk.
Me: Do they ever make it funnier?
Joel: No. It’s not that kind of a magazine.
Me: Did you really appear on “Hot Hot Hottest Hotties” on VH1?
Joel: It’s not called that, it’s those “I Love the 80’s” shows, I’m a talking head.
Me: Yeah, I know those, where you make fun of Heidi Montag or reality people.
Joel: (nods) I still do them.
Me: You still do them? Why?
Joel: Because I show up for an hour and they pay me $1,000.
Me: Oh, that’s good. Sure, why not? Do you drink sweet drinks like what you’re eating? (red velvet waffle) Things with little umbrellas in them?
Joel: No, I don’t like sweet drinks, but I do have the palette of a six year old.
Me: What do you drink, “manly man” drinks like whiskey?
Joel: I like wine, but for my book, the Macallan guy came to my house.
Me: In a Scottish kilt?
Joel: Yes. He gave a tasting to my friends.
Me: I’ve seen that guy at the Playboy Mansion once for a tasting with my friends. He’s good. We took a bus. Did you pass out?
Joel: Yes. Before my friends left. Luckily, I was already at home.
Me: Nice. I understand you taught a humor writing class at Princeton. How did you get that job?
Joel: Someone suggested I apply for it and then they rejected me a few times. But then I did it and it was awesome.
Me: What did you teach the young students?
Joel: About Life. And Love.
Me: *snorts coffee through my nose laughing*
Am I doing anything right as far as humor writing on my blog?
Joel: You’re doing all of it right. You would get an “A.”
Me: Can we be BFFs?
I paid the check. Thank you, Mr. Joel Stein, for being the first official interview subject on Girl to Mom EVER! How did I do?
Now, pretty please, tweet this today with something funny and a tiny url?