Oprah Winfrey and the Stanford Who's Who

Are you in the Stanford Who’s Who? Some 70, 000 people are, apparently. And all of them grateful, dynamic wonder-folk. This was the impression given to me by Laurie Landford, a nasal New Yoyka, who rang me the other day, out of the blue.

She asked if I still worked in journalism and I said: “Yes, I do. Well, kind of. No, yes, I do. I’m a journo.”

“And your current employer?” she said.

“I’ve just started a new job,” I said. (Praise The Almighty. I love you God. You’re the best). “But I can’t tell you about it because it’s a really big secret and I don’t want to get fired.”

“I see, I see,” she said. “Well, based on the information you’ve given me I would say you are definitely someone that will continue to have a large impact in your field and, yeah, we would like to include you in the 2011 Stanford Who’s Who Australian Section.”

Who me? I thought. Based on the information I’ve given? Shit, I’m even more impressive than I’d realised. But just as my ego was inflating a niggling little doubt began to deflate it; in effect this meant my mood was unchanged. Were those alarm bells I could hear? Temporary tinnitus?

As well as networking opportunities with tens of thousands of “like-minded people”, Laurie told me I would receive airline tickets for two to one of several top destinations. Ace, I thought: free air travel, because I’m famous and in Who’s Who. The same thing happens to Oprah Winfrey, who I’m sure is in Who’s Who.

She’s certainly in Australia. Coverage of her visit has been so overwhelming that, if you’re reading this anywhere in the southern hemisphere, you’ll probably hate/love me just for mentioning it. The economic case (state and national tourism bodies sponsor The Chat Show Queen’s tour to the tune of $4 million in return for $634 gazillion-billion-trillion-bazillion in free overseas advertising) seems sound. In return, the Aussie taxpayer gets minute by minute updates on Oprah’s surf-learning, koala-hugging, Uluru-watching, sunset-admiring, hot-air-ballooning, wine-region-visiting, crayfish-eating, lesbian-rumour-denying, cover-shoot-declining jaunt.

That will be me soon, I thought. Things are changing.

Laurie sniffed; I think she had a cold. “I just need you to decide between the Platinum and Gold packages, the first being $781 for five years and the second being $589 for five years.”

“I see,” I said, the tinnitus building. “Umm …”

“Is it the money?” said Laurie.

“In what sense?” I said.

“Does it seem expensive?” she said. “We need your decision today so we can meet our print deadline.”

“Um …” I said.

“I’ll tell you what we’ll do. I’m going to take the price down to $389 for the Gold membership – you can still get your plane tickets AND can upgrade to a Premium for free after three years if you choose to. But you can’t tell ANYONE about this deal we’re making.”

“Sure,” I said. “Um …” I was thinking about John Travolta, who captained one of the two (cough cough) Qantas 747s that carried Oprah’s 302 hyper “ultimate fans” from the States to Australia to join their idol. Imagine that. John Travolta. I could network with him directly if I was in the Stanford Who’s Who.

“I’ll need an address to send your paperwork to,” said Laurie. “Can you give me that? There’s some stuff you need to sign.”

“Umm, sure,” I said. “It’s seventy six D-A-R-” That’s when I hung up, mid-spelling-out, to avoid confrontation.

Have I made a mistake? Have you? Is anyone out there in the Stanford Who’s Who?


First published on Innocent in Australia, 2011.