There I was dressed like a biker chick in my motorcycle boots and leather jacket (my usual flying ensemble) as the paparazzi photographed my twenty-six year old colleague, Jordan Brown and I, as if he were my “boy-toy,” while we checked our bags at LAX.
This was just the beginning of what was to become an enormous, life-altering trip on a four-country tour of duty through Eastern Europe as a US Special Diplomacy Envoy. (Stop laughing.) Now I’ve taken many a press tour in my day to promote various career accomplishments including The Nanny, NY Times bestsellers Enter Whining & Cancer Schmancer, and The Cancer Schmancer Movement. But nothing rivaled the pace, the publicity or the opportunity afforded me by the US State Department to spread my message overseas for better women’s health awareness and empowerment as well as my vision to make the twenty-first century the “Century of the Woman” by creating more female friendly societies worldwide.
From the moment our feet touched Romanian soil, it was non-stop go, go, go! I was particularly excited to begin our trip in Romania, as it was the birthplace of my dear departed Great Grandmother Esther who came to America in search of a better life and three generations later, I am the first of her offspring to return. (And as a US Diplomat no less; only in America!)
I’ve always been very curious about Romania. I like that they are the fifth Latin language. I wondered if their Romanian faces would resemble mine. They are an upbeat, positive energy people, and although they are not the most financially successful of all the newly democratized nations, there are all the hallmarks of a Renaissance taking place. Great restaurants (mostly Italian), wonderful culture, and many upwardly mobile people involved with international business.
The city feels like a sprawling one with no real center to it, unlike other European cities. In that regard it reminds me of Los Angeles which is a collection of individualized towns connected by highways and mass transit.
The State Dept. organized many events like the Breast Cancer Awareness event where I pulled a lever that turned the Arc de Triomphe pink, (a smaller version of the one in Paris). I did tons of press about the importance of Breast Cancer awareness as well as ALL women’s cancers. I visited students at schools of every level, enlightening young women of all ages to “Take Control of Their Bodies”. I met the women movers and shakers in the television media, many of whom were survivors themselves and urged them to use their TV-Q to bring women’s health issues to the forefront of everyday living.
The most amazing evening I experienced in Bucharest was the night we got tickets to the Romanian Philharmonic. Nestled in a glorious dome roof concert hall, this magnificent orchestra played. It was Mahler’s “Symphony # 3,” touted as being one of the most difficult pieces ever written to perform. I’d never seen quite so many instruments on a stage all at once. Plus there was a choir and an operatic soloist.
I can’t even fully describe in words the feeling that prevailed over us all. Bathed in the glory of a composition so sweeping, so full with feelings, performed by such consummate musicians in an architectural temple of human accomplishment. And I leaned over to Bobbie Ashkin our house photographer, and whispered, “This is the best of humanity.”
Photos by: Fran Drescher, Bobbie Ashkin, Jordan Brown
Read more about Fran’s Tour of Duty here.