Monday, May 17, 2010

Wasted Away Again in Author-Stalkerville

I will shamelessly take a page from Jen Lancaster, and in the spirit of My Fair Lazy (on sale now!), I will say "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times" in lieu of saying, 

"Holy shit that was close!"

I made my pilgrimage.  I went to Mecca.  I saw Jen Lancaster.  This is my story.

Let me preface all of this by saying that as much as I talk about wine and my love of it, I really only drink a glass or two of wine every couple of weeks.  In the summer, it might go up to one glass a few days a week when Current Husband and I sit on the back porch after the offspring are in bed.  However, I have a little problem on special occasions, because I am having So-Much-Fun-Best-Time-Ever that I don't want it to stop, and that's when things get fugly.

Last summer, my friend and fellow Chi Omega from Iowa State, we'll call her "Pat" because she prefers not to be called that name, sent an e-mail to me that said, "Are you reading Jen Lancaster?  Because you should be.  She reminds me of your writing, but she doesn't have kids.  Her website is"  I thought, "Aw, that's nice" and went to Jennsylvania, and I've NEVER. COME. HOME.  I went into full Jen stalker mode, read all of her books, follow her website religiously, follow her every Tweet, and think she is just brilliantly funny.  SO, when Jen had a new book coming out and scheduled a signing in Chicago on May 14, I thought "I need to be there, and "Pat" needs to go with me."  She agreed.  We made plans.  I was so excited, and then thought jury duty was going to prevent me from going, but it all worked out.  My friend got here Thursday night so we could leave first thing Friday, and then THIS happened:
 It's Colores Del Sol Malbec.  Delicioso.

Not thinking we would have a three hour car ride each way, we decided to split a bottle of wine and stay up until 1:30 a.m.  I went to bed thinking, "Oy.  I need to get up in five hours to get Oldest Daughter to school.  Not fun.  When will I recover my sleep so I am in top form for Jen?"  The alarm went off exactly when I thought it would, and I was really, really tired.  It took lots of coffee all day, but we made it to Chicago at around 12:30 or so, and got to our hotel and checked in around 1:30.  We headed to Borders, got our blue wristbands, which would guarantee our seating in the front by Jen, and headed out for lunch.  My friend said, "Hey, it's a special occasion, let's go to the Ralph Lauren restaurant!" and I said, "Super!" because I'm thinking, "Hey, it's a classy place, how much trouble can we get into there?ANSWER:  Lots.

The restaurant is full, but the maitre d' informed us that we could be served lunch at the bar.  Oh.  The bar.  Of course.  That will be convenient for the wine we plan to drink.  A nice, chilly, refreshing glass of chardonnay, or two.  Okay.  To the bar!

We both order lobster bisque and some Caesar salad, and "Pat" sees her favorite Chardonnay on the wine list.  "Should we go ahead and order a bottle?  It will be cheaper," she asks.  Well of COURSE, we should.  It's the economical thing to do.  It is about 2:30 p.m.  My cell phone call log shows the first of three ill-fated dialed calls to CH happened at 4:24 p.m.  Here is a recap of what happened in those 114 minutes.
  • We split an extremely chilly, refreshing bottle of wine.
  • We had heartfelt, intense discussions about things of which I have no recollection.
  • At one point, my friend, holding her glass in hand, takes a long, hard look at me, smiles, and says loudly, "You have a LOT of balls, wearing THAT shirt in HERE!" referring to my black Lacoste shirt I have on in honor of my JenQuest.
  • The bottle was empty, and our bartender asks, "Do you want a glass of wine?"  We say yes.  I finish my glass.  He comes over to ask if we want another, and I knock over my empty glass, laugh as only an intoxicated person can, and yell "YES!"

 It is about 3:30.  
I should be clued in by the fact 
that I am starting to look like Tip O'Niell 
that I will no longer pass any sobriety tests today.
  • The gentleman next to us at the bar is eating a lovely salad, alone.  We both stare at his food and comment on how delicious his salad looks.  He starts talking to us, and tells us he writes songs for Jimmy Buffett.  He does look very parrot-heady.  I try to start talking about the creative process and just end up laughing because I am so full of crap, and my friend tells him something about how she'll write a book and get an Oscar and and meet Chris Martin and the guy, Roger Goolgolgol (we couldn't quite process the last name so we called him Jimmy Buffett), starts eating his salad, looking straight ahead, and saying "It's not gonna happen.  It's just not.  It's not gonna happen." and I say, "Hey, aren't creative people supposed to support each other's dreams?" and Jimmy Buffett says, "Check please!" and then my friend starts writing my blog address on napkins and gives him one:

 Let me help you: 
" your pic will appear soon.  
She will be famous!!!"  Yeah.  We went there.
  • We think we are quietly discussing how to get a picture taken with the bartender, when someone about 10 feet behind us says, "I'll take the picture."  We look around.  Lots of people in RL are starting to look our way.  Frequently.  They are not smiling.  We give the volunteer the camera and a napkin with my blog address on it.  His wife returns and is wearing a fabulous dress that I learn she bought at Ann Taylor for $5.  That is all I remember of that 10 minute, lively conversation with these lovely people.  Other than the fact that "Pat" and I are yelling, and having So-Much-Fun-Best-Time-Ever.

 But we are smiling.  It is 4 p.m.  
Why is bartender not smiling so much?

We take the Chardonnay Mobile Unit out into the streets of Chicago.  We start texting people.  My friend Nancy had the misfortune of texting me at that moment, and here is the content of the texts I sent her over the next 5 minutes: (Actual texts)
First Text:  "Dudei have g6t to sober up bfre this happens. My friend just accidentally texted her dentist."   (Interesting how I can spell "accidentally" correctly, but spell "got" with a number.)
Second text:  "Qqka.gtpojmwagptamtwoldjmtgp.msidgoieulc.p;"  (Thought I was so hilarious I showed it to my friend before I sent it, like "Isn't this just about the funniest thing ever?" I then send her a photo of us on the street.
Third text:  "Nope" (In response to her seeing the pic and saying, "Yeah, it's not pretty.)
Fourth text:  "Wish u wer here!" (Most likely received right about the time she thought, "Thank God I am not there".)

This all takes place out on the street, where my friend is also texting people, including her dentist.  She texts a friend we are supposed to meet, and the friend, we'll call her "Reba" for fun, texts back and says, "When you say you are at Michigan Ave and Whatever street, do you mean in a hotel, or a bar, or actually out on the street?" and we laugh and laugh and laugh and send back a text saying, "We are on the street!"  

 "Pat", laughing and holding up lamppost.  
Perhaps trying not to pee.  I know I was.
We decide it would be appropriate to go to Borders and see where exactly Jen will be so I can stake out my most optimal stalking position.  Instead, we get distracted by all of these crazy books!  In a book store!  Aren't they SO funny!
Practicing invading Jen's personal space on a poster.
Knitting for Dummies!  GTFO!  
I have to take a picture! 

A kids book about Self Esteem?!  With Baseball?! 
SO FUNNY!  Let me take a picture!
Um.  Can't really explain why this is on my camera.
Wacky AND Wonderful? STFU! I'm in!
And Jay Mohr, MY parents drank TOO!
It's about 4:25 p.m.  See the look of sickly desperation 
coming over my face?  The fun may be 
starting to end right here.

We leave Borders to meet our friend at a bar near Borders.  But we realize after we leave that we have to use the bathroom, so we inexplicably go into a hotel nearby.  "Pat" has developed a really aggressive case of the hiccups.  We make a beeline for the restrooms, and then SCREEECHHH!  We see an American Girl display that says they are giving away a doll.  Sign us the F up!  Even DRUNK mommies know you don't pass up a chance to win an American Girl doll for the kids!  We write illegible entries, laughing and hiccuping, and then make our way the bathroom.  It is 4:27.  Since CH thinks the hiccups are so funny, I decide to call him so he can hear "Pat".  He answers, and I say, "LISTEN TO THIS!" and hold the phone up to the bathroom stall where she is peeing.  I'm laughing.  I bring the phone back to my ear and say, "Isn't that so funny!" and CH is all "What, her peeing?" and I say, "No, she has the hiccups!" and he says "How long have you been drinking?!" and I say "like forever!  She told Jimmy Buffett she's going to win an Oscar!  I have to go!" and he keeps saying over and over, "Be safe, okay?  Be safe." and I hang up on him.  I call him two more times and tell him the exact same things - hiccups, so fun, Jimmy Buffett.  He pleads with me to be safe every time I hang up on him.  Poor CH.

We make it to the bar and our friend "Reba" walks in.  We are SO HAPPY TO SEE HER!
Yay!  Our designated walker is here!  
She'll get us to Jen!  After just one 16 ounce Blue Moon!
WHEEEEE!!!! So-Much-Fun-Best-Time-Ever!!

Our other friend, "Bob" has met us in Borders!  Yay!
Behind us is The Holy Rail, and the velvet rope
keeping us from Jen.  Thankfully.

We get to Borders, and find out that despite the sales' clerk's promises, we will not be seated in the front by Jen.  They are expecting 500-600 people, and we just missed getting on the main floor.  They velvet-roped us off from the main event.  We are standing behind a rail, and I am indignant about it.  Things are getting a little....foggy.  I can tell my situation is going south quickly, but I am trying to rally.  A lovely girl is handing out bottles of SmartWater, and I am clutching mine like it is a rosary.  I hold on to the rail.  It is only 6 p.m., and Jen isn't coming for another hour.  I start drinking water, but it is about one hour too late for hydration for Julie The Wife.
 UH OH.  This is EXACTLY how I felt at this point.  

Everyone was blurry.  Images of people were swaying in front of me.  I grabbed the rail, and it became Holy to me as Jesus appeared in Borders about the same time Jen did.  Coincidence?  I rested my head on the rail, and a cold sweat broke out.  Jen started speaking, and reading from My Fair Lazy.  I wasn't listening to her.  Jesus started clicking his tongue and murmuring gently at me.
ME:  "Help me, Jesus!"
JESUS:  "Julie, what were you thinking?  You know you can't hold your liquor anymore!"
ME:  "Lesson learned, Padre!  Now help me get focused here."
JESUS:  "Jen is coming.  You need to get it together."
ME:  "I can't miss this!  I've been waiting to meet Jen!"
JESUS:  "I think you are going to throw up in Borders, Julie.  Lick a Dirty ashtray.  Old grease in a deep fat fryer..."
ME:  "Shut up, Jesus!  Holy shit, I think you're right."  Must.  Leave.  Now.

I look at "Pat" and we lock eyes.  We stand for a moment and her eyes get wide.  I say, "I have to leave now."  And I turn away from The Holy Rail and start parting the Sea of Women, stacked about 10 people deep.  "Reba" and "Bob" are coming up the escalator and see me, and their eyes get very large too.  They've seen me look like this, twenty years ago.  They know this look as well as they know the Chi Omega secret handshake.  "Are you okay?" they ask.  "No.  No I'm not." and I lunge at the escalator.  I take three escalators to the basement restrooms, the entire time thinking three things:
I got to the bathroom, got into a stall, and tried to regroup.  I apologized to Jesus for telling him to shut up.  I thought very sober thoughts.  And I kept thinking about Jen, upstairs with all of those other women who could wow her with their snarky brilliant comments, and I was going to lose my shot.  I stood.  I walked out and splashed water on my face.  I rallied.  But time was running out.  I ran from the bathroom back to the escalators, and got to the fourth floor just in time to hear her wrapping up questions.  I think she said her Twitter name is from a business name they have because Jen Lancaster is taken by someone on Twitter.  Then the Borders people said Blue Wristbands could get in line first.  My friends all looked at me, trying to decide if they should get in line with me.  I gave them the all-clear signal.  Before we knew it, we were at the table with JEN FRIGGING LANCASTER!
Yay!  Isn't she so adorable!  Look at how I am 
supporting my body by clutching my knees!  
I am thinking, "Do NOT fall on Jen!"

My friends tell me I talked to Jen for a bit, and they heard the words "stalker" and "four months".  I vaguely remember telling her I am her biggest stalker, and she said something like "I haven't seen you around the apartment" and I said something like "mumble mumble mumble Your Garbage" and then "I've been blogging about stalking you for four months" and she replied with what I want to think was "Oh, I know all about you, You're Julie the Wife" but it was more likely, "Well how nice for you".

I left the Table of Jen and turned, only to see Fletch, her husband.  I yelled, "FLETCH!" and my friends and I all gathered round Fletch for a photo.  Can I just say that I love Fletch?

Is it weird that I got closer to Fletch than Jen?  I told him that his photo of Alec Baldwin in the Hamptons without a belt was maybe funnier than some of Jen's stuff, and that's when the Borders employee lightly touched my elbow and said, "Okay, thanks for coming, Goodnight!" and I kept talking to Fletch about how CH has to hear about the blog from people and does he have that problem, and he sort of says, "Um, no" and the Borders employee starts looking stern and I think that's when they finally revoked my Borders Rewards card.  BUT?  I got this:

Swoon.  It was worth every droplet of cold sweat.  
Thank you, Jesus.

And Jimmy Buffett guy?  Sometimes you do get the award and go to the ceremony and meet the superstar, even if the odds are against you.  It IS going to happen.  It DID happen.  So there.


CeCe Savage said...

Three things:
1) I love the Ralph Lauren restuarant.
2) I practically grew up in that Borders. It's the first place I purchased a book with my own money.
3) This is the funniest story I've possibly ever heard! I can't believe you told her you stalked her. And I think I may love her too now because she didn't freak out that this drunk person was admitting to stalking her and mentioned her garbage! This is such an amazing post!

SueWags said...

Oh Julie! How I can, sadly, relate to such an experience! Was it something that was taught at the Chi Omega house?

I have taught myself when I'm having SUCHTHE BESTTIMEEVERMUSTHAVEANOTHERDRINK is when I shut her down. Except I sometimes forget my lesson.

And I stalk you like you stalk Jen Lancaster. Hell! I ordered one of her books tonight because JULIE THE WIFE told me to do so!

Did you know I get your Facebook status updates sent to my cell phone? That's kind of like snooping through garbage, right? :)


Anonymous said...

I should have remembered you are an entertainer and not a historian. I actually drink as much wine as you say you. BTW that last glass of wine and the Blue Moon were YOUR IDEA. Oh well . . . Pat

ajrhomberg said...

So funny Julie! I thought the funniest part was "Pat's" aggressive case of the hiccups. I am with CH.... I can pee my pants laughing at someone with an aggressive case of hiccups. :) My CH has the most obnoxious, loud, aggressive hiccup (notice it's not plural) at each first drink of a diet coke... it's hilarious every time!

Come visit me soon!!

Clare said...

Love it, Julie! My laptop started to sway and get blurry as I read it! I think I got contact drunk just by reading.
So glad you got to meet her, and of course, hilarity ensued. Now I must buy "My Fair Lazy".

Shiny said...

That is just too hilarious!! You are one tough stalker--I would'nt have even been able to recount this tale after, "so we entered the bar..." :D You are a riot!

Wendy Ramer said...

If I ever come to the Quad Cities, I'm so partying with you.

lauren said...

My experience was very similar... except at our book signing in St. Louis, there was a bar there... my new mantra is "Dinner first, then drinks"
Once you get to pages 130-131 in My Fair Lazy, you'll start feeling less bad about it... I had "drunk girl strikes again" regrets until I got there in the book.

lauren said...

Oh, and Julie... it could've been MUCH worse... My sister was a Pi Phi, so I had a Pi Phi song stuck in my head all day (seeing as Jen was a Pi Phi)... and I sang it to her, despite her protests of "No, no!"
BTW, I'm grateful for looking for Jen on twitter, because I found you and just about spit my wine on the screen laughing at this!

RubyTwoShoes said...

Wow, that was epic! (the blog post mainly, but the whole wine and stalker thing too) I love how those drinking sessions can so quickly turn from the 'best idea' ever to 'never again', well ,actually I don't love it, I hate it - but you made it thru! Phew....

ForeverRhonda said...

I am soooo supremely jealous. I am also not a big drinker, like a drink maybe every few months. And that is because sometimes I drink too much and have THE BEST FUN EVER! Then I generally don't remember it. But I always look really happy in the whatever.

A.R.Ambler said...

oh my goodness.
this is too close to home.
this means you need to come to IC so I can get you drunk. I'll do my best to find a brilliant author for us to do it in front of.

Julie, The Wife said...

@A.R.Ambler - Oooh loads of famous authors come to IC! Maybe during summer workshops this year at Prairie Lights!

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