I don't usually work the celebrity book signings at my place of employment. Actually, that's a misstatement: I usually avoid working the celebrity events. I hate crowds, and crowds of crazy fans are the WORST. Yesterday, though, I worked the Martha Stewart signing.
I had the crappy job of ushering people out of the area after they had their books signed. It's a necessary job, but I am such a marshmallow that I find it difficult to play Bad Cop. Here are fans, shaking and sometimes crying with excitement, eager to check their cameras and phones to make sure their photos came out, and I'm the pushy broad saying, "Move along. Clear the area." When lookie-loos pressed up in a crowd behind me, trying to get a glimpse of la Martha, I invoked the name of the fire marshal and said, "Come on, now, we don't want a repeat of the Jane Fonda incident, do we?" (The fire department showed up during that signing and cut it short, claiming there were too many people crammed into our event space.) Most people were OK with being told to go away, but as usual there were a few folks who think the rules don't apply to them. Several people kept hanging around, taking blurry, underexposed photos over my shoulder and whining about wanting to get closer. I wanted to shove them, but I settled for glaring and sighing loudly and pacing back and forth so that I ruined most of their shots.
One lady sniped, "I just love your job."
"Are you kidding?" I shot back. "Today I hate my job."
Towards the end of the signing, a 40ish guy and his two kids walked up behind me, hoping to spot Martha at the autographing table. The kids weren't very interested, but the man seemed fascinated. "I just don't get it," he said. "I know her books and TV show are popular, but I don't understand why people are all excited to meet her."
"I suppose it's like any celebrity," I said. "People who aren't fans don't see the attraction."
"Yeah, but it's her fans I don't get," he said. "The middle-aged and older women I can see, but there are so many guys in line. What men want to meet Martha Stewart?"
Oh, maybe men like Lucy's gay husband Tony. I knew Tony was going to be there because Lucy had forwarded me an email from him a couple weeks back, right after we started handing out tickets to the Martha Stewart event, in which he asked if I could "help a gay man out" by reserving him a copy of Martha's new book. I spotted him in line, and the next time I saw him, he was in an animated conversation with Martha at the autographing table. Then she was on her cell phone, and then she was handing her cell phone to him so he could talk. Then there was lots of jumping up and down and squealing. Tony, who's a big guy, practically ran up to me after he got his book signed and grabbed me in a bear hug. It turns out he had told Martha how much he likes her daughter Alexis' TV show. (I didn't know her daughter even had a TV show.) Martha was touched, then told him Alexis was at home, sick, and would probably love to hear that. So she called Alexis and handed her phone to Tony so he could leave her a message. Tony wasn't exactly crying over this up-close-and-personal interaction, but his hands were shaking and he was jabbering a mile a minute.
The word everyone used to describe Martha was "gracious." "Lovely" ran a close second. I have to say, she looks fabulous, and not just for someone her age. She bought four gardening books.