If we can make it there…

After the trip to L.A. in January 1991, our next travel opportunity turned out to be to New York for talk show appearances. There was a lot of wrangling with our publicist as to when we would go, exactly which shows we would be on, and things like whether the show would pay for more than one chaperone to accompany the three of us (an issue that would come up more than once). For quite a while we weren’t sure whether we’d be headed to New York once, twice, or not at all, and my journal from that time is filled with page after page of possible variations in terms of flights, drives, and taping locations.

In the end, we wound up with two short trips, one in early June for CBS This Morning, where we would be interviewed by Harry Smith, and the other later that same month for The Joan Rivers Show and an assortment of other smaller interviews.

Looking back on my journals, Thirteen didn’t have all that much to say about any of the actual interviews, just that they generally went well or were fun, etc. I was surprised to see that I spent way more time describing the hotel room we stayed in for the CBS This Morning appearance than I did talking about the actual experience of being on the show. Then again, interviews were kind of old hat for us at this point, after answering the same questions so many times, and our travel experiences sometimes had more novelty for us than the actual media appearances (for example, LaGuardia airport was apparently Thirteen’s first experience with automatic faucets/toilets, which is an event in my life I did not know I had a record of…)

Me, Sarah, and Amy in a chance photo-op with Charles Gibson, while we were in the building doing an interview for CNBC.
And the three of us with Joan Rivers, who was gracious enough to meet up with us after the show for a quick photo. (My journal notes that we also met her dog Spike.)

The second New York trip was by far my favorite. Even though we had a ton of interviews to do for various magazines and news outlets, we also had enough free time to visit two of the coolest places a kid could go in the city (at least, according to Thirteen): the Hard Rock Café and FAO Schwarz.

And scattered among all the travel and interviews, we finished out our last weeks of eighth grade, signed countless yearbooks (and in my case, had to draw in them too — “at least I learned how to draw Buster Bunny in 15 seconds”), had a major water gun fight on the last day of school (actually inside the school, file that under Things That Absolutely Would Not Happen These Days), went on summer vacations with our families, and tried to mentally prepare ourselves for our next big adventure: starting high school in the fall.

20/20, in 2022

(You’re welcome, by the way, for not making the obvious “20/20 hindsight” reference in the title. Seriously considered it, though.)

When I think back on the entire experience of making “Buster and Babs Go Hawaiian,” there are 3 main events that stand out: the trip to L.A. and meeting Spielberg; the premiere of the finished episode, of course; and the airing of the 20/20 segment. It was by far our most involved media appearance and, quite frankly, probably the one that the most people had heard of and watched regularly, at least in our area. (And until it aired, none of our other national TV appearances could be set for firm dates, so I’m assuming they were given exclusivity.)

One of the details I’d forgotten about in the saga of 20/20 is that issue with the air date. On April 5, 1991, our publicist, Valerie, told us it would air on the 19th, so we immediately set about telling… everybody. Family, friends, teachers, local newspapers, local radio and TV stations. After all, as Thirteen noted in her journal, we were told that “the only way we won’t be on 20/20 on the 19th is if there’s a national disaster or something.” (We were somewhat familiar with this, since a planned article in TIME had been derailed by the start of the Gulf War.)

Ten days later, Valerie called back with the words “I’m a messenger from hell.” The air date had been moved from the 19th to the 26th. There was not, as far as we knew, a national disaster, and all of us ranged from irritated to furious, since we’d been waiting for this thing for months already and, more importantly, we had to call everybody and their brother back and tell them, uh, yeah, it’s not the 19th after all. Of course, like a lot of snags in big events, in the long run it was so unimportant that I’d entirely forgotten about it until I reread my journal—but Thirteen sure had some all-caps lines in those entries at being forced to wait.

Mom had to make a whole new sign to hang in the window of the family business. (Note the original date blotted out in the article.)

Friday, April 26, 1991:

It’s 6:20. Only 3 hours and 40 minutes left until showtime.

(Yeah, we were a little excited. I’ll spare you the running journal entry complete with timestamps…)


The title of our story is “When Dreams Come True.”

I still can’t believe it. I mean, us on 20/20. This is just so cool.

The running gag in my journal entry became how many times I kept writing “This is just so cool” or variations thereof. For anyone who cares (and I’m not sure I’m even among them), the grand total was 9.

I think the big impact of the 20/20 airing wasn’t so much anything about the segment itself—though of course it was well done, and even Thirteen notably had no complaints about it—but the fact that it was a show we already watched every Friday night in our house. It was part of our normal media landscape, and now… there we were, on the screen. It might be hard to fully understand this, in the age of YouTube and viral videos, but back then, being on TV was big, and not just in the “I’m famous and people recognize me in the grocery store!” kind of way, but in a more internalized, personal, “this feels not entirely real, but apparently it is” kind of way. We were now a part of what we watched. (That would be true to some degree again when “Buster and Babs Go Hawaiian” finally aired, but we were so involved in that whole process that the premiere felt more like just wrapping things up.)

At the time of posting this, “When Dreams Come True” is available online for those of you who haven’t seen it. (I should note that I’m not affiliated with the YouTube channel that posted it, but do check them out, like, subscribe, etc. They’ve got some fun old commercials posted too.)

If/when the video below disappears, you can also check out the segment’s transcript below.

See what you think, but… y’know, I think it’s still pretty cool.