The Book Signing

The Pioneer Woman was in town yesterday as part of her cookbook tour. The shindig was scheduled to start at 6pm. I had a plan - I was going to leave work early in order to have time to get home to freshen up a bit and pick up Molly and get to the bookstore by 5pm. I figured I’d be home by 7:30 or maybe 8pm.

I got home in record time. Molly was just waking up from her nap, which was perfect. I got my stuff together, which included a fully loaded bag for Molly with diapers, milk, snacks, and even jarred food for just in case; and my tote bag with my cookbook for signing, MP3 player for the car, Blackberry, wallet, and the box containing the earrings that I made for her, see my crappy camera phone picture below. I did take better shots with my real camera, but I haven’t downloaded them yet.

K, so we’re at the bookstore and I am waylaid by an employee asking if I’m there for the book signing. I confirmed that I was and after also confirming that I had my book already I was given a neon green slip of paper with a sticker that was now my ticket for the signing. I headed to the coffee shop to get a snack for myself and a cold beverage and then headed in the direction of the chattering magpies who had already assembled in the back corner. Here’s where I got my first sign of foreboding - they had only set up about 30 chairs and all were already occupied. And there were about 50 other people gathered around those chairs. I maneuvered around to a place at the left side, in a row of stacks to stay out of the way of the employees who were marching up and down this narrow path. Since I had the stroller I was super conscious of space and the potential for annoying people.

And then The Waiting began. Not too long into the wait I saw my friend Kris and waved her over. Having her with me helped keep time moving - we had a nice conversation. Molly was well-behaved and charming to the ladies around us. You can sort of see the growing crowd in this shot, also taken with my phone because I figured with Molly there was no way I could actually use a real camera so I didn’t bring it.

This is just about 1/3 of the crowd at that point, maybe 5:45pm or so. To the left of that shot is the rest of the crowd, the seating, and the podium. And more were pouring in. I speculate that there were about 300 people there. I was told that each color group of tickets was 50 people. They easily had about 7 color groups of tickets and maybe more that I didn’t see.

Promptly at 6pm, Ree arrived. Everyone started taking pictures and she grabbed her camera and started taking pictures of us. Here’s the one shot I got of her doing just that.

She spoke for about 2 minutes then took questions for about 5 minutes and then they took her to the opposite end of the store to set her up for the signing while they then started organizing the masses by the colors of their tickets. Yellow was lucky - they went first. Then I think it was orange, purple, biege, magenta (Kris was that color), and then my color was called.

The employees were smart and used the stacks to weave us through the store to get to Ree. I got in line at about 6:30pm about 2 sets of stacks away (closer to the signing end) than where I had been standing for the first part. It took an hour to get a little less than halfway. It was at this point that I started to consider bailing because of Molly.

She was a trooper. Despite not being able to feed her any kind of dinner she held up really well. Add to it the stifling heat - it had to be 90 degrees in our corner of the store because of all the bodies and talking. And Molly wanted to be held, which made it even hotter for both of us. Fortunately, the gals in line with me were very sweet and tried to help keep her happy. A friend from my church was two people behind me with another friend of hers. And it turned out that one of the two directly behind me also went to my church so the 5 of us enjoyed our time in line together, talking about church stuff, TV, books, shoes, etc.

At about 7:30pm I noticed that Beau had called me so I called him back. He asked how it was going and I explained that I was only about halfway through the line and that Molly was done. He asked if I wanted him to come get her. I was reluctant (she was my conversation prop for when I got to the signing table, but I’ll explain more about that in a minute), but she was so miserable that I said yes. About 20 minutes later I saw Beau and Jesse headed my way. The ladies around me all kind of swooned at my rescuing hero. It was hilarious. They all said he gets major brownie points for coming to get Molly. I agreed. And they cooed over Jesse’s cuteness, too. At that point I considered asking them to stay, but I knew that Jesse would get too antsy, so they left. And I felt naked without Molly.

What was I going to do when I finally got to the table? I was counting on having her there to help with the small talk. I stink at small talk. I’m too shy and I stumble and I have a hard time making eye contact and I’m a complete dork in these kinds of situations. I was doomed.

By 8:45 I was next in line. I had my book out and ready and my little jewelry box, too. So I get up to the table and ham-handedly place the box on the table. “This is for you,” I said to the table. Ree thanked me sweetly and started to sign my book while I stumbled around for something to say. “So you flew in yesterday?” I asked, already knowing the answer because she said that at the beginning! D’oh! “Yes, and I fly out tomorrow,” she replied. “But I’m coming back in September with the family to do some home school touristy stuff!” I told her that’s a good time to come because it isn’t as hot. Really? That’s the best I could do? Where’s Molly? Then my friend Kris came to the rescue with her camera - she took a picture of me with Ree and then I think (hope!) I thanked Ree and I walked off.

I am a total dork. But my cookbook is signed and Ree couldn’t be more lovely and gracious. The line behind me went back to where I had started so I think she had about 90 minutes to 2 more hours of signing to get through. She took time with each person who wanted pictures, took several of her own, and smiled through the whole thing. Her face must hurt after all of the smiling she does at one of these things.

Later, in the car, I thought of the perfect thing I could have said to her, “Ree, thank you for helping my family to eat really well during our 3 blizzards this winter.”