Friday, September 2, 2011

A New York Book Signing

On a recent Saturday night, I joined my fabulous agent, Carolina, in attending a book signing at a trendy bar in Manhattan. Now, previous to this evening, the only book signing I had attended was one where I was the designated signer; a quiet, civilized affair in a back room at Barnes and Noble. This new book signing was a whole other well of ink. Apparently, when you're a famous author whose best-selling book is about to be made into a major motion picture, your shindigs are slightly more elaborate. It also doesn't hurt if your chosen literary genre is chick lit. Who knew.

Here's the skinny: Emily Griffin (of Something Borrowed fame) threw a huge shindig at a glossy little chic locale called Pranna to celebrate the release of her fifth book, The Heart of the Matter. Also on the author's upcoming publicity agenda was the soon-to-be-released film based on her first novel, Something Borrowed, which will star Ginnifer Goodwin and Kate Hudson.  If that wasn't enough excitement for the evening, at 10pm, the ladies-only signing was to open up to admit everybody's single male friends (as if anybody has THOSE in this city), a deejay was to start spinning (do the whipper snappers still use the term "spinning"?), and all the single ladies would live happily ever after in wedded bliss.  And buy Emily Griffin's books.  Yeah . . .  You see where I'm going with this.

Now, good news first.  I truly believe that any experience, no matter how crazy or lame or boring or stressful it is, can be overcome and even made fabulous by good company.  Case in point: running a marathon (see my blog about the adventure).  Long story short, I had a great time doing the marathon because of my fun running buddy.  The same is true of Ms. Griffin's book signing.  Carolina invited her friends to join us at Pranna for some book signing fun.  There wasn't much book signing going on as far as we knew, but the company definitely made the evening worthwhile.

Now, the bad news.  I'll start with the promotional materials.  On Emily Griffin's website, the invitation to the shindig that says things like, "A girls' night out, matchmaking, and book signing event", "Meet Emily's most eligible bachelor friends", and "VIP gift bags to the first 100 girls who purchase Heart of the Matter".  Anybody see something WRONG with these blurbs?  I looked around the packed bar.  I did not see a GIRL anywhere.  I saw smart-looking, well-dressed professional and, I'm assuming, upwardly mobile New York women.  I saw no girls anywhere.  And as for Emily's eligible bachelors?  (I looked at the pics online.)  Most of these women could do so much better.

In spite of the lame invitation, we smooshed into the crowded bar and joined a line to purchase Emily's new book.  The line, by the way, was moving NOWHERE.  Supposedly, there were passed appetizers with which to bide our time, but only one of the four of us managed to snag a piece of unimaginative chicken before the server was swallowed up into the undulating high-pitched mass of black cocktail dresses and perfectly coiffed hair.  As we chatted, we slowly inched closer and closer to the books-for-purchase table as we were jostled side to side by women squeezing their Physique 57ed bodies toward the bar for one of the assortment of pink cocktails that were being promoted.  Again, I'm assuming if it were a male author and a bring-your-eligible-single-women-friends shindig, the cocktails would not be pink.  But, obviously, that kind of event practically never happens.  Don't get me wrong, I will drink a pink cocktail if someone gives it to me.  But really?  I prefer a brown one.

Finally, we reached the table and a few of us purchased the book and collected the "VIP goodie bag".  Then, we looked for the "I-have-purchased-the-book-now-I-want-the-dang-author-to-sign-it" line.  It was, literally, about twice as long as the first line.  At this point, I gave up.  Well, my feet did, anyway.  I apologized to Carolina and her friends for my crassness, made a beeline for the restroom, and swapped my patent leather LaDuca design collection Kill Bill pumps for my ratty gym sneakers.  It was fashion suicide in a bar full of trendy New York women, but I didn't care.  My dogs were barking.  (I know, I'm cheesy).  When I got to the top of the stairs, I couldn't be sure, but my friends seemed to be even further from the front of the line than before.  Oy.  We stood and chatted, looked around, chatted some more, and passed another hour in virtually the same spot.

Eventually, some announcements were made (some kind of raffle) and there was a flurry of pictures and activity toward the front of the bar.  Not like we could see what was happening through the jungle of Diane Von Furstenburg, but apparently, something was happening.  I wasn't too excited about it, but I was slightly curious (Carolina told me later that Hilary Swank was in attendance - she's in the Something Borrowed flick, so maybe that was it).  Oh well.  I guessed I'd read about it the next day in Star magazine (not like I read that, ahem).  We stood for a little while longer and Carolina looked at me, "Okay, I'm done".  I sighed in relief, "Ugggh.  Me, too".  I wanted out.  Somehow, the scene was beginning to depress me.  I didn't know why, but in the middle of the snowballing party atmosphere, I was getting a little sad.  As we squeezed our way toward the door, I saw the first of the "eligible bachelors" arriving.  Yeah.  Not so much.  I said goodbye, grabbed a cab toward New Jersey, and pondered my feelings about the whole shindig.

I had some sort of itchy feeling about the whole atmosphere.  First off, I despised the promotional verbage because I HATE being called a girl.  Girls' night out.  Girls just want to have fun.  Valley girl.  "I'm a pretty girl, mama."  We are WOMEN, women.  If you are over 18, and I was pretty sure EVERYONE in that room was, you are a woman in my book.  Somehow, I find the wide use of the term slightly degrading to our sex.  If we call ourselves "girls" while men never call themselves "boys", what does that say about our continual fight for equality?  Shouldn't we make it easier on ourselves and step up to the grown-ups table?  Secondly, I was slightly depressed by all of the seemingly fabulous single women that surrounded me at the signing/matchmaking party.  If you didn't know, fabulous reader, single women outnumber single men in New York City by over 210,000.  That's pretty shitty odds if I do say so myself.  And this party was a prime example of the marriage crisis we have in Manhattan.  Not that I'm saying that New York women need to get married (trust me, that's a whole other blog), but if they want to, folks, the pickings are slim.  And the women are brilliant.  Well, the ones I met that evening were, anyway.  I guessed that was what bothered me about the shindig.  Well, that and I NEVER even SAW the author's face.  Seriously, that place was that packed.  Not that I'm a big chick lit fan (some would argue that Griffin is not chick lit, but by the attendance at the party, I would disagree), but I would have liked to at least see the author in the flesh.  Alas, no.  The party was 0 for 2 in my book.

I pensively rode home to Jersey and thanked my lucky stars for 1) buddies that can make any experience bearable and 2) the fact that I'm not single.


Hiatt's blog said...

The hardbodies from American Psycho. Sounds horrible (but very well written). : )

Brittney said...

I read Griffin's first book, Something Borrowed, and hated it, it had a very shallow view of womanhood (girlhood?) and singledom so this event doesn't surprise me. The most annoying thing to me is The Heart of The Matter is a title of an amazing Graham Greene novel, one of my favorite books, and she is ruining it.