Sitting at the sleek Hyatt bar at McCormick Place in Chicago, resting our weary bones after walking the National Restaurant Show for hours, I’d all but given up going to Anthony Bourdain’s book signing the next day. The guy at the book store had said only 100 wristbands would be given out, starting at 8:30am and oh, there would be a line at dawn, and pointed outside toward the steps. In the dark? While I’m usually sleeping? So much work to see . . . a person. A fucking person, that’s all.
But, Hubby said, that’s why you came, right?
With an audible sigh, I pulled from my beer and picked up cell phone to call Daughter, who would have good advice in this matter.
Voice Mail. More sighing, more beer. Harrumph.
I gave in though, Hubby convincing me I’d regret not making the effort and giving himself credit for doing anything for me,(and he is correct there, the great guy that he is) especially waking up at four to go see a guy talk about food. Hubby’s idea, the four AM thing.
So what kind of city cab is waiting outside the Intercontinental on Michigan Avenue at four in the morning? A race car driver wanna be, that’s what kind. Thankfully my stomach contained nothing ––not even coffee––as our foreign cabbie sped toward red lights, our necks whiplashing as he slammed on brakes, to take off again. I wasn’t in that much of a hurry, really. So in a blink we arrived at McCormick Place’s front door, dawn still around a corner somewhere and there, along the dark entry steps stood . . . no one.
My early morning dreams of campers, like those poor goofs at Wal Mart on Thanksgiving, were wrong, apparently.Luckily the revolving door was unlocked and we cruised right on into the building. 4:45 AM, and not a soul around. A few bleary eyed janitors, that’s all.
Well, I’ve always liked being first.
Hubby scrounged two chairs and we parked our weary and coffee-less butts at the very front of the stanchion set up to keep everyone in line.
And there we sat, for three hours. Eventually Starbucks opened and we had coffee, and the line began to form around seven thirty, and I read Bourdain’s Medium Raw, texted Daughter and friends and I felt kind of dumb. While optimistic Hubby kept saying, well we’re here, you’ll get in now, see?
Yes, yes. But you see the motivation here was not to simply see a guy talk about food. I wanted to talk to HIM. About MY book. I know, how many people do that. But when I’m driven to do something I follow it (even though the four AM thing nearly derailed me), lack of sleep and caffeine be dammed. Hey, I was first in line, move the hell over.
Proudly wearing my wristbands, at eight we rushed off towards the ballroom where his talk would start at ten. More waiting, more reading, more dread, what would I actually say to him anyway? And how would I say this thing that I wanted to say but didn’t know exactly, being the nervous little Nellie that I can be. Was it too early for a beer?
His talk was great, funny, right on and everyone howled with laughter. Then, hugging my copy of Medium Raw, I lined up without Hubby at the airport security style stanchions for the 100 person-only signing. The thing I was waiting for. I would talk to Anthony Bourdain!
I saw how fast things were moving and formulated a sentence––a question––he’d have to answer a question, wouldn’t he? My turn, the book ripped from my hands by one Bourdain worker bee and put on the table in front of AB, my camera grabbed by another worker bee, then I was next to him, frozen at first––I was Ralphie manhandled toward Santa in A Christmas Story. But wait!! I have to ask my question!!! (Gripping the slide) And like asking for a Red Ryder BB Gun I said: What advice do you have for a former chef in the eighties––I was in New Orleans while you were in New York––now a kitchen designer writing her memoir called Mis en Place: Memoir of a Girl Chef? (Breathe now.)A picture snapped while my mouth was open. Wait, I didn’t smile! And it was time to move away from the table, the next kid pushing up to see Santa.
As I walked away with book, my camera being handed back over to me, Anthony Bourdain said, “Take no Prisoners. Write it like no one will read it. That’s what I did.”
Okay then. I’ll do just that. And off I dashed to rejoin Hubby and get a beer.