On a recent evening, I joined my fabulous agent in attending a book signing at a trendy bar in New York City. 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: The author threw a huge shindig at a glossy little chic bar to celebrate the release of her most recent book. Also on the author's upcoming publicity agenda was the soon-to-be-released film based on one of her previous novels. 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 more 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 article 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 this book signing. 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 the invitation to the shindig, it said things like, "A girls' night out and book signing event." 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 City women. I saw no girls anywhere. And as for the gentlemen who would arrive after we had imbibed a few cocktails? 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 the author'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, the cocktails would not be pink. 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 my agent 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 City 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 (My agent told me later that a B-list celebrity was in attendance - so maybe that was it). Oh well. I guessed I'd read about it the next day in a trashy magazine (not like I read that, ahem). We stood for a little while longer and my agent 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 more men 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. I find the wide use of the term 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 women that surrounded me at the party. If you didn't know, fabulous reader, single women outnumber single men in New York City by a pretty large number. That's pretty icky odds if I do say so myself. And this party was a prime example of the marriage crisis we have in New York.
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 in New York 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. Not that I'm a big chick lit fan, 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 Weehawken and thanked my lucky stars for 1) buddies that can make any experience bearable and 2) the fact that I'm not single.