Trisha nudges me awake. The cameras are rolling.
I look around dutifully. Nothing but the cat tracing slow circles in the bay window.
Trisha says remember to make a good impression.
I stifle a groan, then go about making a good impression. Smile. Murmur good morning. Rub her back before rolling over and lifting out of bed with a stretch, the way you’d expect someone to rise in a cartoon. Every movement predictable. Slide feet into slippers. Rub eyes. Am I overdoing it? I pad into the bathroom, then the kitchen—yes, “pad,” the most acceptable way to move in the morning—and pour the coffee. The cameras will have followed me here. Trisha will enter any moment, containing her yawn with the back of her hand over her mouth.
Trisha enters, yawning, the back of her hand over her mouth.
“Coffee? How lovely,” she says as if rehearsing lines for a play. She kisses my cheek, then leans back against the counter with the mug wrapped in her hands. We’re both angled out to ensure this conversation can be captured. If we turn our backs for too long, they might have to shoot it again. And that would be forced and uncomfortable. Luckily, I acted in college. I know how to cheat to an audience.
We go through our ritual of talking over our to-do lists for the day. The cameras will follow us everywhere, although (as Trisha has reassured me many times) they’ll end up editing most of it out. Still, you don’t know what they’re going to choose. Act natural. Don’t do anything you wouldn’t want broadcast on national television.
I made that mistake once during an argument about the cameras. Back when I was still trying to reason with her, arguing that if there was a film crew, why hadn’t we ever seen anything on TV? She’d begun to cry, saying she’d worked so hard to protect me, making sure I’d never catch the show because it’d be too painful for me to watch our lives back that way. I’d grabbed her by the shoulders and shaken her a little, saying, “Trisha? Trisha, for god’s sake,” and she’d stumbled back, looking as if she didn’t know me. “What if everybody sees that, the way you grabbed me?” Then she regretted getting meta because you’re not supposed to get meta. It’s one of the rules, like giving daily confessionals where you speak about things that have already happened in the present tense.
It’s easier to go along. Like this morning, the two of us sipping our coffee with such ease it’s like we’re made for this. They want us to “be ourselves” anyway. It’s called “reality” for a reason.
So when we’re talking, we don’t break the fourth wall. Sometimes, I almost forget we’re being watched. That’s good, Trisha tells me.
Because the thing about the cameras is you have to pretend they’re not there.