Wednesday, May 5, 2010

mobs of people - pioneer style

Last night i went to a book signing with the Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond.
I've read her blog for a few years and really enjoy her recipes so when i found out that she was going to be in Fairfax, VA i decided to go. I had several important meeting yesterday that couldn't be postponed so i couldn't leave work until 3:30. I figured on afternoon traffic so the plan was to get there at 5:30, but the traffic gods smiled on me and i got there at 5:00.
Good thing, too.
Arriving 1 hour before the scheduled start time, i received ticket number 200. Wow; there were a lot of people there. It was a bit of a mob because the bookstore only anticipated 50-100 people. Really? In fact the manager had never heard of her and apparently didn't look her up. Don't you think that if you are hosting a book signing that you would want to know more about the author than her publicity blurb? Though the staff seemed a bit shell-shocked, the crowd was mostly well behaved and jovial.
Of course, if you are 5'3" the event looks like this:
I brought a book to read while we milled about waiting. Almost on time the manager did an introduction and the Pioneer Woman emerged. At least i assume she did cause people clapped, hundreds of cameras started flashing and someone with a different voice started speaking.
Let's see if we can find her by holding the camera up over my head:
There she is!
  - over there, see?
 I was surprised by how soft-spoken Ree is; you would expect someone louder given her writing style. Also her accent was interesting, not really strong and sort of a mix between midwest and southern (which i guess if you look at the position of Oklahoma in the country, makes sense). She spoke for a few minutes, took a couple questions and got to the signing pretty quickly. They called us by color tickets (50 tickets to a color) to line up. By my count they had at least 8 color groups so there the line snaked in and out and around every corner of the store.
It was kinda crazy.
Every once in a while as you turned a corner you could see progress:
is that the signing table?
Yes, it was a long time to stand around and be in maze-like queues and yes, it got hot and stuffy and yes, some people don't seem to understand that if their Screechy McWhiny toddler goes off like an ear-piercing fire alarm every 10 minutes for a sustained 7 minute scream they should Go Home because he is not gonna calm down and yes, some people thought it appropriate to get five books signed at once (sure i can see 2 - if i had the money i certainly would have gotten my beloved BFF one and maybe even 3 if you had 2 sisters, but don't you think FIVE is kinda selfish and ridiculous considering that there are at least 400 people in line?), but overall it was a fun experience.
I like the communal experience of large groups of people that are all interested in the same thing (sporting events come to mind) cause it is easy to start chatting with complete strangers. I like watching group dynamics. Plus, i was able to read 163 pages of my book.
And, in the end, i did indeed get my cookbook signed by the author who was gracious and took a minute to not only chat with each person she saw, but had someone (publicist, maybe?) ready to take a picture on your camera. [and i just realized that i get to count this as a new thing in May as i have never gone to a book signing before!]


Meg said...

You were definitely good to get there early! I was in the "green" group and didn't meet Ree until 10:30 p.m. What a long night! But very fun and worth it.

I can't believe the store only expected 50-100 people?! Were they crazy? They did seem a little shocked to see the crowd, and maybe nervous. I would totally be, too!

I'm with you: there's something so fun about a large crew of people gathered for a common purpose. My boyfriend and I made friends with all the people around us, and we've even swapped messages since then! :)

Rea said...

NUTS!! I already have her book, but I would have sent $$$$ for a signed one!

Megan said...

so jealous - love pw!