It was 1989 and when men in the Times Square section of NY asked you that kind of question they invariably meant something tawdry.
“It’s Joan Rivers,” he said.
Well, that was different! I grabbed two tickets and called my then fiancee. “Can you sneak out of work?”
I could hear his shock over the phone. My prim and proper hubby-to-be worked 60 hours a week and never snuck out of anything.
“We get to see Joan River’s brand new TV show being filmed!”
Twenty minutes later we were online at a theater in midtown. You see, we loved Joan. She was fresh, and bratty, and downright funny. We looked for Joan’s guest spots on Carson, because she made Johnny look insipid by comparison. He was California, urbane, smooth, a martini at the 19th hole kind of guy. She was city, New York City. Ethnic, glamorous, sometimes classless, but warm and welcoming. You always had a feeling you could talk to her.
And talk we did.
She warmed up the audience by asking if we had questions. I asked how Melissa was — inordinately proud she was going to my alma mater. Later, I said, I couldn’t see because of all the equipment in the way.
Joan was approachable. She wounded with quick jabs of wit, but smiled so sweetly afterwards, you just had to forgive. She was everyone’s mother — and everyone’s friend, even if you only saw her on TV.
The reality show with Melissa and Joan living together was clearly, at times, a bit less than real. I couldn’t believe Joan really went in search of pot or lived in that small basement bedroom. But the love, frustration, and worry Melissa and Joan exhibited for each other, showed us how great their relationship must be.
The road for Melissa is going to be hard. I know, I also lost a mother who was my best friend. Sweetie, we’re sending out a whole lot of love to you. Life will never be the same, but your mom taught millions of women, including me, to be strong just by her example.Taught us to not give up on our dreams, not fall down when people laugh at us instead of with us, to get up when life deals you lower than low blows, and that an artist can keep trying and inventing, and moving with the times, up until their last breath.
Being her daughter must now make you the strongest woman on earth.
In fact, that’s the word, I’d use to sum up Joan more than anything else. And wherever she is now, I know she’s talking, and laughing, and still showering this planet with her special brand of love.