Barbara: Speaking of different roles, with all the focus that the show and the magazine have had on marriage and motherhood, how do you feel about never having experienced either?
Oprah: I used to get that question all the time: Why haven't you married Stedman? Actually, Stedman asked me to marry him, and at first I said "Yes!" but it turned out that I wanted to be asked to be married more than I wanted to be married. Had it not been for big-mouth Gayle King over there, it wouldn't have become the big public thing that it became. Gayle was there when he asked me, and then she went on TV—she was anchoring the news back then—and told everybody. And it became this big hoo-da-ha-da thing.
Gayle: I was so excited!
Barbara: How long ago was that?
Oprah: 1993. My friends were going togive me a party. Remember that, Gayle? Everybody was going to give me a—what do you call those?
Gayle: An engagement party. A shower.
Oprah: It was a shower. And I was saying, "I don't want this, I don't want this." And Gayle says, "Oh, everybody gets cold feet." And I say, "I don't have cold feet—my feet are stuck in a cement block surrounded by ice!" It just felt like the wrong thing for me. This was at the same time that I was supposed to have the book coming out. We were in Miami, in the back of a limousine, coming back from the party with the big shrimp, and Stedman asks, "So when is the book coming out?" The book was coming out September 14 or something, and our wedding had been scheduled for September 8. We had a date and everything. So Stedman says, "Well, I don't want to have my wedding in competition with your book." And I remember thinking, "Yes! Really? Okay, great! I ended up canceling both, and we have not discussed it since that day.
Barbara: But you're still together.
Oprah: Still together. And what we have discussed is the fact that had we gotten married, we would definitely not still be together. Because instinctively, I understood that to do what I do every day is so nontraditional that it would have been difficult to try to conform to a traditional way of being. And Stedman's a pretty traditional man. You know, the show became my life. It became my children. And I knew I was not the kind of woman who could get home and make sure dinner was on the table. I do that when I feel like it, and if I don't feel like it, there's some Raisin Bran in there, get yourself a banana, and that's it.
Barbara: How do you feel about not having children?
Oprah: Really good. No regrets whatsoever. Gayle grew up writing the names of her would-be children, making little hearts and putting children's names in them. Never occurred to me to do that. I never had a desire. And I don't think I could have this life and have children. One of the lessons I've learned from doing the show is just how much sacrifice and attention is required to do the job of mothering well. Nothing in my background prepared or trained me to do that. So I don't have any regrets about it at all. And I do feel like I am a mother in a broader sense—to a generation of viewers who've grown up with me.
Kristy Nicholas: You are.
Oprah: I have deep, deep love and affection for the people who've grown up watching. And when the show ends, it will not just be about my ending. I feel like it will almost be the end of an era for people who were 10 years old when the show started and are now 35—the kids who used to come home from school and watch with their mothers. We've been on longer than Bonanza was! It's a relationship.
Kristy: What will you do the morning after your last show?
Oprah: Sleep in. Because that's going to be a really big party.
The one show Oprah wishes she hadn't done
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