No Stars for Connie Chung
By Michael Finkel
It was quite possibly the most hallucinogenic thing I’ve ever seen, not counting my experiences on hallucinogens. Check that. It was the most hallucinogenic thing I’ve ever seen, including all experiences on hallucinogens. The sky was pulsing in great van Gogh swirls of nail-polish pink and glow-stick green. It was the northern lights, the aurora borealis, in full astral splendor.
This was in 1994, in Lillehammer, Norway. I was there, working as a minion for CBS television’s coverage of the winter Olympics. The CBS headquarters was essentially a windowless basement bunker. I’d stepped outside for a bit of fresh air when the heavens exploded. I watched, alone, for a few minutes, then decided I needed to tell someone else about this, perhaps even gather a camera crew to record it. So I walked back inside. And there, sitting not 20 feet from the exit, was Connie Chung.
I’d been in Norway for a couple of weeks by this point, and hadn’t actually uttered a single word to Ms. Chung. Now, however, I did.
“Have you ever seen the northern lights?” I asked her.
“No,” she said. She was dressed smartly, anchorpersonishly.
“Well, they’re out right now,” I said, excitedly. “They’re incredible!”
She gazed at me with a blank look on her face.
“I mean they’re literally right outside that door,” I continued, pointing at the exit. It would have required approximately 10 seconds for her to walk and see the lights. But she just sat there. I was a young man at the time, not so jaded as I am today, and the thought of a journalist not being interested in experiencing something new — something so amazing and just outside the door — was beyond my comprehension. I couldn’t let it go.
“You don’t want to see them?” I asked.
“No,” she said.
I still couldn’t let it go. “No?” I said, perhaps a touch impudently. “Why not?”
“These shoes are uncomfortable,” she said, “and I don’t feel like walking in them.”