Paul Hollywood, Queer Eye, and Sit. Stay.
It started with Cesar Millan and The Dog Whisperer. I wanted Cesar to walk into my house, stage an intervention, take control, and get me to behave—Sit. Stay.—so my life would fall into some sort of order. I watched how he took out-of-control canines and transformed the lives of the owners by supposedly showing them how to be the boss of the dog but really showing them how to be the boss of themselves and their lives. I wanted a boss in my life because I certainly hadn’t signed up for the job. (It wasn’t until last week that I realized I was the one spending my money! I thought money disappeared! It didn’t matter how hard I worked, I was always behind because my money was always disappearing! And guess why!! Someone—moi!—was spending it! You may think now that a 12-year-old is writing this piece, but I’m tell you something: I’m not 12! I’m 54!
Then there was Paul Hollywood on The Great British Baking Show. I am single and cook for no man, but I wanted to cook for Paul Hollywood and have him examine my efforts with his lion gaze and to call a spade a spade: soft in the middle, rough around the edges, flat out terrible. I wanted to try to please Paul Hollywood, to hone my baking skills until that handsome guy decided that what I had done was so amazing I deserved a handshake! I wanted to be asked to shoot for the moon. I wanted someone to hold me to achingly high standards because being held to such heights implies the faith I can get there.
I wanted Paul Hollywood to reach over my tray of brownies and to grip my hand in his because he was so happy for us both. I wanted him to shake my hand because he’d gotten to taste something spectacular and I’d made it! I had done what he’d thought I could and what I hadn’t quite believed of myself! I baked the brownies of a lifetime because someone was waiting to celebrate them!
The Fab Five and Queer Eye regularly make me cry with their devotion to their wild selves and to those of the people into whose lives they cyclone. I fantasized about coming home one day and finding them in my bedroom, tearing it apart, making fun of my wardrobe, loudly wondering where the real Anne was in the mishmash of possessions. I wanted them to see me, to love me, to show me the road home to myself the way I’d seen them do episode after episode. I wanted them to watch me entertain my friends at the end of the show. I wanted them to cry. I wanted them to hug each other, verklempt over the changes they had wrought to me and my surroundings.
The call to excellence is a brilliant sound. Watching TV can be a passive act, a numbing, a way to disappear, but these three shows, this posse of men, wake me up. They give me hope that tomorrow may contain even more wonderful surprises than today did, especially if I am bold enough to work for and expect wonder and miracles.
And I am. And I do.