…on Jen Lancaster. It’s purely platonic, but she may or may not cause my heart to race, my palms to sweat, and my mouth to say really stupid thing about speed dating.
This all began last summer when for our third anniversary, Scott gave me two memoirs as a gift. The first, The Gastronomy of Marriage by Michelle Maisto, detailed the blending of two families and cultures through a culinary lens. The second, My Fair Lazy by Miss Jen is described by Lancaster herself as “One reality television addict’s attempt to discover if not being a dumb as is the new black, or, a culture-up manifesto”.
I’ll let you guess which one was my favorite.
In the month following, I devoured all four of her previous memoirs. It was love at first page turn.
When I learned Jen’s book tour would be stopping in Seattle to promote her first novel, If You Were Here, I might have done a back flip. OK…maybe it was a cartwheel. Alright, alright — a somersault. It’s not my fault my parents never put me in gymnastics. Let’s just say I was really excited, and spent weeks thinking of what I would say to Jen when I had my big moment with her. And more importantly, what I would wear.
The signing took place last night at Third Place Books in Lake Forest Park, about 25 minutes north of Seattle. And for the record, I couldn’t imagine a better way to have spent my last evening on Earth before the Rapture.
As I pulled into the shopping center, I had a serendipidous realization that I had been here once before — the Sally Beauty Supply in Lake Forest Park is the only store within a 50 mile radius that carries the Salon Bronze Spray Tanning System, and I had made the drive once before to get my hands on the coveted product. As shown by the screenshot from her blog below, Jen is a spray tan goddess. This felt less like a coincidence and more like, you know, destiny.
FYI – Her caption refers to the Chicago suburb of Lake Forest where she and her husband Fletch reside. Not Lake Forest Park, where the book signing took place.
As I was pulling into the parking lot, I saw a black luxury sedan stop in front of the book store. The door slowly swung open, and out stepped Jen herself, in all of her preppy glory. My heart began to beat through my chest. I was starstruck. More starstruck than when I saw John Mayer. More Starstruck than when I met Prince Charles in London. This is the big time. This is Jen.
I quickly parked and grabbed my makeup bag to do a few quick touch-ups. The end result was a tad bid “drag queen”, but I decided to roll with it and tease my hair to enhance the look. Because lets be honest — the only thing Lancaster loves more than a good spray tan is a fabulously large ‘do.
With a fresh coat of lip gloss and my weave in place, I quickly rushed into the store, and purchased her book. I’d put a lot of thought into my outfit (I decided to go for preppy/nautical look) and was careful not to wrinkle my skirt as I sat in my second row seat. I started reading the first chapter of the novel until I heard an uproar from the crowd — Jen had walked onto the stage.
Lancaster looked impeccable — just as I knew she would. She was clad in her signature pearls, complete with a spring green Lacoste polo, matching floral scarf, cute capris and her classic sunglasses as a headband look. Read more about Jen’s preppy style in her oh-so-fabulous fashion memoir, Pretty in Plaid, for which the tagline is “A life, a witch and a wardrobe, or, the wonder years before the condescending, egomaniacal, self-centered smart-ass phase”. Love it.
She was also toting an adorable Louis Vuitton handbag. It was all I could do to keep myself from squealing “Look Jen, look! We have matching handbags! See?! Let’s be friends!! Want to go drink wine now?!?”
Deep breaths, Katrina, deep breaths.
Jen said a brief hello, and thanked Seattle for the nice weather. She shared that after spending the day at Pike’s Place Market, she had acquired a Seattle Sunburn, which she thought sounded like a bizarre sexual act. Naturally, we all giggled uncontrollably. She then proceeded to read a sample from the new novel, and answer questions from the audience, which ranged from “How are your dogs?” and “How are your parents?” to “Was that antique you bought and posted on your blog really a Chinese Toilet?” and “When are you and Fletch going to have kids?”
In case your wondering, the dogs and parents are great, and no, the antique was NOT a Chinese toilet.
When asked about children, she merely laughed and rolled her eyes. I’ll take that as a “never”.
One woman raised her hand just to let Jen know she had driven over 18 hours from Canada to attend the signing.
But I digress, soon the moment we’d all been waiting for had arrived. It was time for all of us to meet Jen. I rushed into the line and instantly became extremely nervous and sweaty as I pondered what on earth I would say that would make Jen want to be my BFF and go out for a fabulous night on the town with me after we ditched all of these other peeps.
I observed the fans in front of me go one by one to greet Jen. She was warm, friendly and charming, graciously taking time to answer questions, and even asking a few herself while posing for photos and signing multiple books for each person.
Perhaps I should compliment her on her works? Confess my love for Bitter is the New Black and share how her opinions on The Real Housewives of New Jersey have shaped my philosophy on life? No, that’s what everyone else is saying.
I could always play the cool Seattleite card and recommend a great restaurant for her to try tonight. Perhaps the Pink Door, as I’m assuming she’s staying at the Four Seasons just down the street? (Jen has made her love for the Four Seasons known in several of her book and once posted on her blog that she would love to only include cities with a Four Seasons hotel on her book tour). Maybe she’d even invite me to dinner!! Yet, I worry she might find my inquiry about her hotel slightly bothersome and fear that I will become her next stalker.
It might be cute to bring up my dog. Jen is a pet lover and her dogs and cats are regular characters in her books. Her dog Maisy (a pitbull who thinks she’s a lapdog) and my pooch Jolie (a lapdog who thinks she’s a pitbull) are practically soul mates…
But I’m already known at work as the weird girl who talks about her dog way too much, and I don’t want to perpetuate the stereotype with Jen.
Alas, it’s my turn. I walk up to Jen, hand her my book and say hello with absolutely no idea as to what I should say to make a lasting, favorable impression. So in true Katrina style, I blurt out the first thing that pops into my head.
“This must feel a lot like speed dating.”
It’s funny, clever and I think Jen will definitely approve.
By which she clearly meant, No, this is not at all like speed dating and you’re making me uncomfortable.
Oh snap. Maybe it wasn’t so funny and clever after all. I quickly attempt to rebound as I stammer “Not that I’ve ever tried it. HEHEHEHEHEHEHE!!!!”
Which I’m pretty sure made me sound like a speed dating regular.
“It’s actually a lot of fun.” she replied while clearly giving me the this girl be craaazy glance. I’m assuming she means signing books is fun, not speed dating. Sure, she may be willing to steal a designer briefcase from a homeless man, but speed dating? She would never stoop so low.
We quickly snap a photo, she signs my book, and I scamper out of there, tail between my legs. At this point I’m pretty sure I’ve surpassed the woman who drove 18 hours from Canada on the “Jen Lancaster scale of creepiness”.
But at least I got an autograph out of the deal.
And a photo where Jen only looks mildly freaked out by your’s truly.
I’m usually a quite conversationally savvy person and can’t remember any other incident where I’ve frozen up and become so incredibly socially awkward. I suppose I was just paralyzed by my girl crush to the point of making inappropriate comments about being on a lesbian speed date. I left feeling extremely embarrassed and disappointed at the fact that Jen and I probably won’t be BFFs until next year, when she comes back for her next book signing. Sigh.
In the mean time, I returned home to share my humiliating story with Scott and my sister Hayley, while engaging in a Jen-approved activity.
Relax…the wine was left over from Easter and there was seriously less than one glass left in the whole thing. The bottle is actually really pretty and matches the green decor in our living/dining area. I’m thinking of removing the labels and using it to create some sort of homemade centerpiece. Maybe I’ll fill it with the tears I’ll shed over my botched opportunity at becoming Jen’s next gal pal.
1. What can I do to redeem myself next year? I’m considering purchasing a set of doggie pearls to give Jen for Maisy to wear so they can be all cute and matchy. I may also try to sneak Jolie inside in my purse. Because even if Jen hates me, no one can resist the “snuggle pooch”.
2. Have you ever frozen up in front of a celebrity? I once met the King of Norway and got so nervous that I accidentally said “goodbye” instead of “hello”.