I'm not usually negative about events. Even when nobody shows up. Come on, I’ve done plenty of events where there were only three people in the audience. They don’t surprise me. But that’s usually because the staff and bookstore more than make up for it with kindness, interest, and hospitality.
But last night took the cake. As you know, this year we thought we’d try *a few* events at chain stores. We still support the indies, but I’d met a woman from this year at BEA who wanted Panties at the store she worked at, Borders Rancho Santa Margarita, so we decided to book one. When we got the regional coordinator who didn’t even work in the store, he encouraged us to do even more of his stores. So, I said yes to one of their biggest/best at South Coast Plaza.
That’s how we came into these last two So Cal events. Now, here’s the lameness…
Yesterday I went online to look up directions to the store. I checked their events page. Nothing up there for our event. So, I called the store to see if they were even expecting me. Sure. So, I drove up. Traffic was insane so I called a half an hour prior to say I’d be ten minutes late. The coordinator asked how many chairs I wanted put out. I wasn’t expecting a large crowd so I said we could start with 15-20 and fill in more if needed.
I arrived right at 7pm to 12 empty chairs. No big deal, my grandmother and brother were coming with me so we could go out to dinner if nobody showed. But when I returned from the bathroom, two happy ladies, Brenda and Sue, were there with their flyers and had already checked out the panties on our website. In front of the 12 chairs was a little table with lots of Panties books, a stand up announcement (we were seated right by the door), and a chair. Not facing the audience. No podium. No microphone. Nothing. I let the front desk know I was here and the coordinator, Tom, and his long dark mane, came out.
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No smiles. Barely a welcome. Just a question as to whether or not I needed coffee or water and that I should get in touch with Brendan or John if I wanted anything else because he was going on his break. Poor Brenda and Sue, they were excited, but I was thrown off. And I haven’t been thrown off the entire tour. Not one iota. I’ve spoken to crowds of three, two crowds of five-seven, and did it with as much grace (if I do say so myself) as I did for the events where there were 25 or more. But this one, I showed that this was indeed not normal.
Thankfully Laurie Frankel, a sidebar contributor, and author of It’s Not Me…It’s You!: And Can We Not be Friends?: A Modern Girl’s Guide To Breaking Up was there. She and her friend Kelly added to Brenda and Sue’s enthusiasm and made this much more bearable. Even when we were overrun by a bunch of loud 12 or 13-year-olds. Kelly kindly got up and asked them to move from behind my head and told them that we were doing a reading. The kids stormed out of the store. Their noise was replaced by a variety of PA system announcements. Which reminds me, Lion King boy wasn’t even going to announce that we were starting the event (there were plenty of women in the store), until I asked him to. And I knew better than to ask him if he was going to introduce me to our five people because I really don’t think he even knew my name. Let alone anything about Sand in My Bra which wasn’t even in stock.
So, we read on. And it was all fine. I just wish we could’ve done more for Brenda, Sue, and Kelly, who were true fans. About half way through two other women came over and joined us because they heard us nearby. And they ended up buying a book, and really wanted to buy Sand. Ah well.
Still, it was great that my brother and grandmother came out. I read the word “bitch” at least twice, and said the F-word once. My grandmother was laughing, I apologized, and it made for a nice joke to the rest of the audience. Even though I don’t think I can be grounded anymore, I’m pretty sure she won’t remember it by the time we get home to tell my grandfather.
Oh, and Susan Schlosberg, if you’re reading this…. Brenda requested your story be read because they were originally from Ohio. I gladly obliged, and they had several chuckles. Even if they’d never heard of Morristown.
Back to the lameness….I can’t blame it all on the store. I had not been in touch with Laurie, and she had deserved more communication than I gave her. She was expecting a much larger audience, and for her, I apologize. It must’ve seemed much lamer to her than it was even to me. Well, who knows. She probably didn’t have evil thoughts of stealing six copies of Panties like I did. Because I was positive the staff wouldn’t have noticed at all.