December 6, 2009 by skwishface
Nestled deep within the soft chewy nougat center of my soul rests a tiny pungent kernel of crippling shyness. I coat it in layers of sass and pepper and hope nobody notices it’s there.
But sometimes the flavor will out. And the only way to keep from just standing in a corner with big eyes, picking my nose like an overwhelmed kindergartener, is to completely. Spaz. Out.
I blink alot. Talk too fast. Sweat. Comb comb comb my hair with my fingers. Generally act like a goob.
I figure it’s my own internal karmic system. When you spend alot of your time doing a passable impersonation of this:
Eventually, you will involuntarily become this:
The universe craves balance. Sigh.
Have you encountered The Pioneer Woman? Long story short, she’s a city girl who fell head over stylish heels for the Marlboro Man. Umpteen years later, she’s a ranch wife and mother of four with a magnificently popular website. The lady cooks, and it’s gastronomically inspiring.
The book-signing was at Book People, where all such events in Austin are held. It’s a three-story literary fortress that embodies the very Austin-ness of our town, balancing all that is weird and quirky (fridge magnets based on a local homeless transvestite who ran for mayor twice, for example) with heaps and scads of legit classics and useful info, a massive kids’ section, oh and a coffee shop. In short, a very dangerous place for me to be.
Apparently, nobody told the folks at Book People that this cookbook author has a bit of a following. They started handing out color-coded wristbands for the book signing at 4pm that day. When I got there at 4:30pm, they had already given out over 200. The poor scruffy hipster boy handing them out looked awfully shellshocked. And when they actually had to mobilize the tattooed be-aproned troops to manage the crowd of hundreds? Well they were very frazzled under their facial piercings that night, let me tell you.
In preparation for this event, I crocheted a set of hats for the PW’s kiddos. I know she has two boys and two girls, because the internet told me so. Here’s where I started to wig out a little. How awkward is this? “Hi, we’ve never met, but I have a present for your children. I promise it’s not coated in anthrax!” (most likely, I didn’t actually say that.) Alls I know is, if a stranger approached me with gifts for my kids, I would be equal parts creeped out and embarassed. This is partly because I’m terrible at accepting gifts.
Did I take pictures of these hats? Nope. Completely forgot. They were colorful variations on these designs. Did I take pictures of the book signing, and PW receiving my gifts along with a none-too-subtle business card? Nope. Completely forgot. My inner Jerry Lewis loomed large throughout this process, and pushed such common sensical thoughts right out of my head. Basically, I was freaking out.
Meeting new people. New people whose achievements I admire. New people upon whom I will thrust pieces of my craft in the hopes that my work is good enough to earn a smile.
Conditions were perfect for a full-on shyness attack.
Luckily, the Drummond family (PW’s crew) are lovely, gracious people. The entire cast of characters was in attendance, milling about the place and generally being charming and pleasant.
The Marlboro Man, who is every bit as ruggedly handsome as his wife claims.
The Punks, two wholesome-pretty girls all leggy and polite and wearing fabulous boots, two rambunctious boys all frogs n’ snails n’ puppy dog tails seemingly everywhere at once. These kids had impressive good manners, smiling through what has to be a weird experience full of strangers who seem to know who they are on sight and want not only their pictures, but their autographs.
A truly charming lady whose resemblance to the Pioneer Woman was too strong to be anyone but her sister, who gave me a t-shirt and chatted happily with me while I came out of my spaz-attack after meeting the lady in question.
PW’s mom, who is about nine feet tall and coo’ed over my baby girl (who was in attendance along with my very supportive mother-in-law) and jokingly requested that I not let her daughter see the baby. Apparently the hormones are in an upsurge and the constant parade of cute babies is getting to be almost comical.
And then there was the Pioneer Woman herself. All gracious smiles and fabulous earrings. Signing a bajillion books with more patience and enjoyment than I think I could’ve mustered. When it came to be my turn to step up, I’m not sure what happened.
I spoke. I know that. Words of some kind came out of my mouth. Nothing too terrible, because security didn’t march me out of there. The gift bag with the hats was handed over. Books were signed. The Girl, fast asleep in her Grandma’s arms, was admired.
What I wanted to say to this woman I admire was “Hi, I love your site, you inspired me to actually bake from scratch! In appreciation, I’d like gift you with hats for your kiddos. That’s what I do, see, on my Etsy shop Angry Baby. Hats for kids crocheted from 100% all-natural materials. I hope you enjoy them as much as I’ve enjoyed your work. Thank you so much!”
What I actually said was more along the lines of “HELLO! Blargy blargy hats hats hats! Lookit baby! We takey picture with you LAY-DEEEE!”
Oh well. At least my kid was cute. And the lady really did have fabulous earrings. Which I would have complimented if I could have gotten my tongue to do anything but flail about madly. Let’s focus on the baby and the earrings, shall we?
Long story short (too late), it was a very frought evening, but only in between my ears. Out in the world, it was a gathering of folks who love to cook and chat about life. The two hours in line were full of laughs and fun. The Pioneer Woman and her family seem like truly sweet people, and I just hope I didn’t freak them out too much.