I thought I was in pretty good shape and all, from years of running road races and marathons, but nothing prepared me for the endurance sport known as “Waiting on Line for More Than Two Hours to Get a Damn Book Signed.”
Of course, it didn’t help that I was wearing three-inch white wedge sandals instead of my more comfortable running shoes. But, I wanted to look my best, as I was meeting Teresa Giudice from Bravo’s The Real Housewives of New Jersey. She and her husband, Joe, were making an appearance at Di Paolo’s Bakery in Verona and Teresa was signing copies of her latest Italian cookbook, Fabulicious (2011: Running Press. $20).
Granted, I am more of a fan of The Real Housewives of Orange County and The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. Since it never seems to rain — or snow for that matter –in southern California, these shows always get me through the cold and dreary New Jersey winters. I salivate over the gorgeous summer clothes, the perfect mani/pedis, the palm trees, the fantastic beaches, the spectacular mansions, the yachts. And frizzy hair has never been spotted in southern California. There are rumors that it’s banned there, but that has never been actually proven.
The real irony here is that I offered to stand on line to get the quintessential New Jersey Housewife’s autograph for a friend who lives in California. She happens to LOVE the table-turning Teresa Giudice and, in her own words, likens her to a character from a John Waters film. She cannot stop thanking me for getting her a signed copy of Teresa’s book. This could come in handy when I need a California-related favor someday.
As cookbooks go, the book is beautifully done. The chapter names are cute: “A Ph.D. in Pasta,” “We Do It My Way,” and “Growing up Giudice.” The recipes are interspersed with photos of Teresa, her husband, four daughters, parents, and in-laws. Some of the photos are tacky (such as the one of Teresa applying her makeup) but the family snapshots are candid and a nice touch. The recipes looks delightful, too: “Love Me Tender Eggplant Caponata,” “Roasted Asparagus Alla Parmigiana,” and “Holy Cannoli Cupcakes.” (More on them later).
The crowd, not surprisingly, was mostly women but what DID surprise me is that it was a mixed bag of not only middle-aged housewives and grandmas but lots of younger, high school and college-age gals. I didn’t think this show was that popular with the younger crowd, but there they were in their short-shorts and minis and their heavily-lined eyes, trying to out-Giudice Teresa.
Everyone who braved waiting in line got an adorable little pink box with two Holy Cannoli cupcakes inside. Normally, something called a Holy Cannoli would not be found in my food vocabulary, but I was so famished since I didn’t have time for dinner that I just had to polish one off. I was not disappointed. I had to exercise some self-control not to devour the other one, which I was saving for my husband.
I got to meet Teresa, got my book signed, got my Holy Cannoli cupcakes, so what’s my beef? I guess I’ve been a little out of the loop when it comes to book signings. The last book signing I attended was for punk musician Johnny Rotten at a Barnes & Noble in the West Village during the 1980s. I forgot how long I wanted in line for that one, but I was in my 20s and my feet were a lot younger. Plus there were a lot of really cute punker guys on line to help me pass the time.
The Giudice book signing was advertised from 6 to 8 p.m. on July 27. One of the owners of the bakery told me that two elderly women actually showed up at 2:30! I asked him what they did for 3-1/2 hours and he said they just hung out and drank coffee and ate cake. It must be nice to have that much leisure time.
I got there at 6:15 and the line was already snaked around corner for about half a mile. Time I actually got inside? 9 PM! From what I observed, they were only letting about three to four people inside at a time. If you’ve ever been to Di Paulo’s, you know that it’s not a very big place. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great bakery. My husband and I stop there often after our long runs for coffee and they made our gorgeous wedding cake. But as a venue for a celebrity book signing? No way. The organizers really should have picked a larger location such as Calandra’s in Caldwell.
And once they herded everyone inside, they should have managed the crowd a bit better. I understand that everyone and their grandma wanted to stop and have a lengthy chat with Teresa but it’s impossible to do that in a venue like this. It’s not a private luncheon with Teresa. There were hundreds of people waiting to get inside, get their autograph and photo, and go home.
So my take on book signings in general is:
1. Wear comfortable shoes. Unless you don’t have a life and can get there 3 hours in advance.
2. Bring cash. Checks are frowned upon, even if you live in-state.
3. Bring lots of patience, you will need it.
4. Bring something to eat and drink.
5. Make friends with the people on line. Who do you think is going to take your photo or hold your place in line if you have to run to the bathroom?
6. Learn where the bathrooms are.
7. If you’re an author who’s a rising star, it helps to have your own reality show if you want to draw the crowds.