Rage Against The Clock
A couple of weeks ago I was on Good Morning America.
Lemme back up.
A couple weeks plus three days ago, I was on a call with a couple of my colleagues and a potential new production partner to talk about what kind of content we’re looking for. At the end of the call, the woman mentioned that she was going to be in New York the next week to break a world record on Good Morning America. Then, she asked if anyone wanted to join.
Looking back at this, it occurs to me that she may have been kidding, inviting total strangers to join. But at the time, all I heard was “world record". Frankly, if I had really heard the “Good Morning America” part I would likely have put two and two together and realized that i would have to get up at the ass crack of dawn to participate and I would’ve immediately declined.
But I didn’t. I enthusiastically volunteered, the only person from my team who did so. Because honestly, how many times do you get asked to help break a record in your life? I think usually zero and only sometimes one, and I wasn’t about to pass this up.
I didn’t find out what the record was until Monday of the next week. On that Monday, I received a hefty email full of details, clearly written by a really talented but really obnoxious GMA producer. It gleefully announced that we would be “Racing Against The Clock to break the record for number of cookies frosted in a hour!”
I’m not gonna lie, I was relieved. I had agreed to participate before I knew anything about the actual record, and in previous four days I had managed to convince myself that whatever it was was spider-related. Number of spiders on a human body, number of spiders you can eat, amount of collective pain caused at one time by spider bites… whatever it was, it was gonna be fucking terrifying. It was a welcome update. Cookies tend to bite way fewer people than spiders.
I woke to my vibrating alarm clock at 4AM. I have a vibrating alarm clock now so as not to wake my long suffering roommate who shares a wall with me. I also have my normal alarm, which goes off at 7, but this has become sort of a backup measure. Now, I shove a little plastic thing under my pillow and then wake up thinking my mattress is attacking me. It works really well.
Of course, It was 4:30, so the subways were fucked up. You can’t even be too angry when the subways aren’t running properly this early in the morning. This was the time when they were supposed to be free to fix the signals and clear the garbage on the tracks and change the subway oil (I dunno what subway maintenance entails.)
I shared a remarkably full shuttle bus. I managed to get on the A at Jay St. Metrotech, transferred at some point, and found myself sleepwalking through Times Square under the freakishly convincing manufactured daylight.
When we all walked into the studio, it was decorated like crazy for this thing. Big cutouts of gingerbread men were everywhere, stations were set up for decorating. On massive screens hung all over was a big graphic of a round cookie with clock hands, with a headline that read “Race Against The Clock.” Of course the typography made it look like “Rage Against The Clock” which is how this 90s child read it in her head multiple times before, eventually, her brain caught up.
We went through a quick rehearsal, most of which involved me sitting on a chair, waiting to be told to move to another chair. The highlight of the rehearsal was the camera guys, wide awake at this ungodly hour. They spent most of the rehearsal giving each other shit, loudly, and making crass comments about “frosting someone’s cookie.” The mothers in our group did not look pleased. I, on the other hand, felt a deep camaraderie with them and was disappointed to be whisked back to the greenroom post-rehearsal.
When it was actually time for the show, they came to the greenroom to herd us back in to the studio. I had tried to lose the costumer but I didn’t make it out the door without him forcing a Santa hat onto my head, squishing my hair, which to be honest I’ve become really vain about lately.
I took my agreed upon place behind one of the six tables that had been set up.
On my left was a group of three girls who were clearly the popular girls from their respective high schools 8-10 years ago. Somehow they had managed to sneak past the costumer and got to make their television appearance WITHOUT a Santa hat. I was extremely jealous.
On my right was a guy who hadn’t been at the rehearsal. It seemed like he was a last minute addition, so I smiled and gave him the quick rundown of what we needed to do.
The director counted down, then gave us the signal that we were live, and, right on cue, our newest table-mate began humming.
It wasn’t a song, it was just a low volume humming. Every four minutes or so he would stop to take a breath and I would pray that it wouldn’t start again, but it always did. The intensity of the humming would ebb and flow, but it was always there.
The other thing about this guy was that he couldn’t ice a cookie. And look, I’m not a snob about decorating cookies, but this guy was hopeless. It turns out the Guinness Book of World Records is really strict about these things so only cookies that were frosted all the way to the edges were counted towards our total. The proceedings were all overseen by two Guinness adjudicators, who wore fancy blazers and looked like they regularly got the crap beaten out of them. I referred to them as the Guinness Debate Team and got a few laughs, which, frankly, is all I’m ever looking for. Throughout the hour, they were reviewing each and every cookie and rejecting the gingerbread men that were not positively struggling to hold the weight of a snowdrift of frosting.
My table buddy was not reaching the edges of his cookies, if you know what I mean. We had to keep giving the cookies he handed to us back so he could put more icing on it. It happened enough times that it blew my brain. And while the explosion in my skull happened, it was accompanied constantly by the humming. I don’t mean to be dramatic but it was, frankly, apocalyptic.
In the end, the whole event really wasn’t that glam. Leslie Mann showed up for a minute, not sure why, and we got a quick glimpse at Robin Roberts, which was thoroughly underwhelming. I was hoping she’d be a bit tipsy (isn’t GMA the show where the women drink wine in the morning?) but she seemed like she was as sharp as ever.
By the way- are all just not commenting on her name? Robin Roberts? I feel like her parents should get a lot of grief for that. I feel like the kind of parents who name their daughter Robin Roberts would name their son Robert Roberts. But I just did some quick research, and her brother is named Lawrence, Jr.. So it’s really just her that was christened with a dumb first name.
Long story short, we beat the world record to a bleeding, diabetic pulp. I ended up in an apron absolutely covered in frosting. And then, to celebrate, I went to work. Because, after we raged against that clock, it was still only 9AM.