The O Interview: Gayle and Oprah, Uncensored
Oprah: Okay, $482.
Gayle: But who's counting?
Oprah: I had $482 just sort of stuck into a coat pocket.
Gayle: In your pants pocket. You know how sometimes you just find a five? Or a 20 is like, whoo! She pulls out $482.
Oprah: Okay, you tell the story.
Gayle: In 20s. And I'd gotten to Chicago on a Super Saver ticket; you know, back when you had to buy 30 days in advance for a decent price. She was living in Chicago, and I was married, and we had scrimped—I remember that once Billy and I didn't have $10 to go to the movies. He was in law school and I was the only one working. So for her to pull out $482 was like, wow! She goes, "God, where'd this come from? You want it?" And I went, "Oh, no. No. I'm good. I'm fine." But I'm thinking, "God, that would pay the light bill, the phone bill, the gas bill." And she just puts it back. It's probably still in that damn pocket. She was just extending a gesture, just being nice: "Oh, you want it?"
Oprah: But years later, she said, "You remember that time you pulled out the $482?"
Gayle: I said, "I wanted that money so bad!"
Oprah: "I needed that money so bad, but I wouldn't take it." You know what that's like? That is incredible for somebody like me who lives in a world where everybody wants a piece of you. I mean, people feel they deserve a piece of you. Strangers think that.
Gayle: Now I happily accept all gifts. [Laughter] No, but I just wouldn't have felt right.
Oprah: She's never asked me for a dime. There is a level of mutual respect that comes from being with somebody you know doesn't want anything from you but you. There will never be an ulterior motive. I have to say, this would have been a much different relationship had that ever happened. Not that I wouldn't have done it, but in order to have a real friendship, you have to be equals.
Gayle: That's not necessarily financial equals.
Oprah: No, equal in respect. I can't put myself in a position where I need you to do things for me, or expect you to do things for me with any kind of strings attached.
Gayle: Yeah, I never feel lesser than, or one down. Never.
Oprah: But let me just say this, too. The person who has the money has to have a generous spirit. Early on, when I started to make a lot of money and we'd go shopping, I'd say, "Look, the deal is this: If you see something you really want, I'll get it. I don't want to play this, 'No, no, no, you don't have to buy that for me,' because I'm really willing to get it for you." I do that now with all my friends.
Lisa: That makes sense. Otherwise you would have all this money and nobody to enjoy it with.
Oprah: What you don't want is a situation where the person always expects that you're going to be the one to pay. Otherwise you're just the bank, and nobody wants to be seen as an ATM machine.