The Fonz and I

by | Nov 10, 2023 | Blog, Write Now Columbus - Current Essay

Written By Kathryn Haueisen

Last week I had a moral dilemma. I won the Write Now Columbus complimentary Thurber
House ticket to see Henry Winkler being interviewed by Pulitzer-Prize-Winning Journalist
Connie Schultz at the Ohio State University Mershon Auditorium. This was a stop on his book
tour to promote his newly released, Being Henry: The Fonz . . . and Beyond. I was really looking
forward to the evening, in spite of the stuffy nose and annoying other symptoms that moved in
with me the day before the event. I was pretty sure it was a cold, likely the result of temperatures
rising and falling by 20 or more degrees every few hours. But what if it was COVID?

It would be socially irresponsible to attend the event if I had COVID, even with a mask. I
debated not testing, figuring ignorance would enable me to blissfully attend with a semi-clear
conscience. I could hear my parents’ disapproval of that option swirling around in my head,
chastising me from their graves. So, I tested. It was negative. Phew.

Wednesday, November 8, I, and my brother, along with an estimated 900 other Happy Days fans
of Fonzie enjoyed his interview with Schultz. I only knew Winkler from Happy Days and more
recently, some television commercials. I did not know he wrote children’s books. Nor did I know
he struggled with dyslexia issues and struggled to find himself after his role as the adolescent
with an attitude came to an end after eleven seasons. He credits his mental health therapist for
helping him create the post-Fonzie life he’s now enjoying.

Winkler was charming, witty, funny, and energetic. While seated across from one another,
Schultz would pitch him a question. He’d answer it, and then jump up to roam around the stage,
embellishing his answers with whatever crossed his kangaroo-like mind, hopping from one story
to the next. Then he’d sit down for the next question before repeating this pattern. Being 78 years
old hasn’t slowed him down much. He can still pull off the famous Fonzie persona with ease.
Thurber House pulled off an amazing event, with volunteers everywhere greeting and assisting.
My brother claimed his copy of Winkler’s book within a couple of minutes at a table stacked
high with Winkler’s books. We settled into the last two seats open near the back of the
auditorium, laughing and clapping away the next hour.

After the program the staff invited us to wait in line to take a photo with Winkler. The line was
already really long before we found the end of it. Though I was certain I was dealing with an
annoying cold and not COVID, I was ready to get home to more hot tea, honey, lemon, and cold
meds. We skipped the line, but I am grateful to Thurber House for providing this enchanting
evening. I shall remember it for years, along with a new book to read and old programs to watch.

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