4:30pm - show up for the book signing at Sur La Table...which is, of course, a high quality cooking equipment store. ...which I had thought was a restaurant. Matter of fact, I assumed it was a French restaurant, you know, with the "la" part in the name. Looking back I guess that wouldn't make sense, since 1) Gordon isn't French and 2) Gordon knocks the French every chance he gets and 3) it should've occured to me that no fancy high-end restaurant decides "hey you know what, let's have an event in the middle of service on a Thursday night; we'll being in hundreds of people to disrupt dinner and make people paying $40 for bottled water as miserable as possible. And let's make it a book signing, celebrating a book that shows everybody how easy it is to make fancy food, therein never having to go to an expensive restaurant again. You're welcome, guys!" Much like my decision to go to college instead of settling nicely into a life of petty larceny and small explosives, maybe I didn't think that one out.
4:31pm - entering the store, I immediately see I am out of place. Everyone's looking at me, rolling their eyes "yeah, I'm sure you buy $55 avocado slicers, dickwad." There's a big table stacked with copies of Gordon's latest book, "Fast Food." It's a big, beautifully made book that has hundreds of recipes that I will never even see the ingredients to, much less make. And then I saw sheets of paper that list the protocol for the book signing. What? Now, I have never been to a book signing, I didn't know there was ever anything more to it than "will you sign this please?" I had no idea it was run by The Soup Nazi. Present book with Sur La Table receipt to clerk. Open book to inside of front cover. Tell clerk what name you want to have signed. Allow clerk to attach post-it with name onto said page. Close book. Step one foot over back into line. Blow brains out cause you just spent $40 to read how to make mushrooms-on-toast. Wait patiently for Chef Ramsay to enter.
4:33pm - I find out they're only allowing Gordon to sign that one book. I'm crushed; I had just bought a different book, his bio, earlier in the week, so my Weekly Gordon Ramsay Book Budget was already used up. And I sure as hell ain't dipping into my Cool Whip in a Can or The Fall Guy Denim Patch Weekly Budget, so there I was. So I slink out, feeling the disapproval of the people working the event burning through the back of my head. Hey, so I didn't buy the right fucking book. Fuck you! My eyes went black with despair and fury all at once; who loves Gordon more than me, I thought. Who deserves to meet him more than me? Fuck these motherfuckers who breeze in with their fucking....oh, what ho, what's this? Turning the corner out the door onto a side street, I see the Bat Signal of the papparazzi: a huge, black SUV with tinted windows. It's parked in front of a side entrance to the store, idling away. AHA!!!! Gordon's in there! And eventually he's gotta come out, right? He's gonna hafta go from the car to the door, right? And then she's GOTTA listen to the poem I wrote and take me back, hell, she's still got my letter jacket, right? Hold up - mixing up stalking moments. Right, big black SUV. So I brilliantly come upon a plan of nonchallantly leaning against the building, working on the Daily News crossword puzzle. Surely no one would question the intentions of someone doing a crossword puzzle in the middle of the street, right? Surely his handlers will think "Crossword puzzle? Okay, this guy's brilliant, let's get him in the car next to Gordon with a box of eclairs STAT!!" And of course while standing there waiting I do what I always do in those situations: try to look as ridiculously non-threatening as possible. I plaster a goofy look on my face, I kinda smile around at everything like I'm a fucking retard. I cancel all body language, and I look for an old lady or someone to pretend to lurch towards to help on the street. "You're okay? Okay? Good, I'm so nice and friendly I was worried; have a nice day!" Back to blank look. The Helpless Goof on the Corner. Of course, I don't know why I think I have to make a concerted effort to give off a helpless vibe. I seriously doubt anybody will see me standing there and think "oh shit, Navy SEAL-looking dude with an axe-wound scar along both cheeks...this dude does something and takes off there's no way we can catch him, this dude's big trouble, we better encircle him right now and take him off the scene...I'm scared, are you guys scared?" But hey, what can I say. It's what I do. I got Gordon cornered and he doesn't even know it cause I'm putting on such a nice-guy snow job for his people. What will I say when I "accidently" bump into him at the door? Should I act cool? Cool, but not too cool, I guess. Don't bring up his family. Don't mention his kids Morgan, Matthew, Modine and Megan (assist: Martin Short!) Say something about an actual dish you've seen him make. Maybe I can make a quick statement on the state of affairs in England as we're meeting? Somehow combine how he's affected my life with what I have to offer Europe as a whole, in general? All tied into cooking, of course. Knock him off his feet with an amazing combination of the personal and the political - I will flip his wig with a small step for man AND a leap for all of mankind. This is about to get G O O D, people.
4:50pm - SUV drives away. Shit.
4:52pm - acting as if I hadn't been standing there like an idiot for 20 minutes, I decide fuck it, I ain't going home without at least trying. I go back in the store, find where to line up...as it's over an hour before the signing kicks off, I am TA-DA!! fifth person in line. I feel good about my spot; I haven't liked my chances this much starting out at an event since I walked into a white sale at The Limited.
5:15pm - now they're coming around checking everyone's books/receipts et al. Ohoh. I decide to hang in there as tough as possible. And by "as tough as possible" I mean "lie and say I came up from Richmond, Va on the Chinatown Bus, squeezing out a lone, sad tear." "Fung Wah" I knowingly say to the book-checker, as if that'll get me over the top with her. Hmm. "Oh, I see, you couldn't even afford the regular Greyhound shit bus. Please, by all means, stand in the middle of our store for the next hour and then introduce yourself to Gordon Ramsay. Oooh, the Fung wah bus; I'm horny, do you rike fucking??!!" So I show her the book I have and her nose crinkles like I had just cut one. Which I may have, cause I was terrified I was this close to meeting him and wouldn't. Well, and I had just had my afternoon tea of porkskins deep-fried in boiled peanuts. "I don't know," she's slowly saying, "his publicist says he's only signing the new one..." "Please," I beg her. "Gee, I dunno...maybe I can ask his people..." I remind her that I am a Holocaust survivor and was just found in the basement of my father, who kept me there for 24 years ass-raping me every day. She walks to the next person, saying well, she'll see what she can do. "Oh, vey" I shake my head.
5:19pm - girl working alongside Gee I Dunno Girl breeezily starts blathering that "oh, his publicist says that he much more enjoys just meeting people and shaking hands to signing autographs." To which Gee I Dunno Girl shoots her darts with her eyes; like Brenda the first time she saw Kelly in the pharmacy buying condoms alongside a 10-gallon bucket of men's hair-gel. Bitch!
5:25pm - number of "correct" books I have: 0. Number the woman in front of me has: 4. Fuck!!!!! "This one's for Dominic...and one for Angelo...now I've got one each for the entire '86 Giants roster..." Fuuuuuuuck!
5:35pm - there's a mother/son team behind me. They're speaking (what I think is) Russian. Loudly. Braying in my fucking ears. The mother has come up from Atlanta; I had no idea there was a Russian population in Atlanta. Maybe with all the dogs disappearing there's room for Russians? There's another melifluous language, isn't it? Anyone find it a coincidence that the people that speak Chinese and the people that speak Russian are poised to take over the world? If your language is jarring and scary enough, I guess you can eventually take over the world. Every word these people say, it sounds like Chris Matthews announcing the Kentucky Derby while stepping on mousetraps. Ohoh - now the woman's on the phone barking in Russian to someone, I guess someone back home. She's pissed, and a violent stream of Russian is pouring out. Except, of course, for two sentences: "I know the toilet's backed up and broken, and he needs to check for a gas leak. He'll smell it, he'll know." What? All the Russian you were just barking, and you decide THIS is the moment you should switch to English? Wtf? Like Anna Nicole deciding to gain 200 lbs during the one season they film that show of hers: bad timing. Thanks, Natashkaskiskiskiski.
5:45pm - throughout this whole wait there's been some fucking kid ahead of me who goes from the line to the front door (our sightline blocked by shelves) and then comes running back. Hands on his mouth with glee to get us all excited and....no Gordon. He's faking. Oooooooh, got us!! Hey jackoff, it wasn't funny the first time; it's certainly not funny the 6th time. But enough about Congress cutting veteran's benefits, tonight's all about Gordon.
5:50pm - there's a dude in front of me with his girlfriend. He is a super hipster; i.e. he is wearing a ragged-out tracksuit and bowling shoes, and yet you somehow know his father owns The Bahamas. He is, I hate to say, ugly: tiny head, no chin. Beard to make up for no chin. Face somehow too small for already tiny head. And he's got shoulder length hair that, when I first saw him about an hour ago, was wet, therein suggesting he had just come from a shower. I am now officially creeped out because here we are this much further along in the evening and his hair is still wet. What the fuck is that about? He's SO ironic that the laws of physics cease to exist with him - liquids do not dry? Maybe God gave him the gift of never-drying hair to make up for forgetting to give him a head that grows with the rest of his body? Like God giving me the gift of perfect lips once he realized I'd have no woman in my life along with more piss jatrs under my bed than dollars in my wallet? Maybe he's a superhero, Dry Hair Man? Dude. Cut that hair, you are scaring the children!!!!!!
5:56pm $29 for pot holders? Really? How much pot comes with?
5:58pm it is now two minutes before the signing is supposed to stop. Like anyone else with a brain, I thought to show up about an hour and a half early, knowing otherwise I'd get fucked bya huge line - this is NYC, and it's Gordon Ramsay. Fairly fucking famous dude, n'est-pas? Hell, Danny Bonaduce's pill boy could have a signing, and if I'm going I'd show up an hour early. Not, of course, the NYC hoi paloi. Nothing says "hey, I'm a rich white douchebag!" like breezing into a book signing for a guy who's on tv 39 hours a day a minute before the event begins and being shocked you're not #1 in line. Fuckwad. Motherfuckers breezing in INDIGNANT there's a long line. At least 10 people were seriously pissed "I thought I'd be at the front of the line!" Sorry dumbass, but "first come first served" isn't Chinese for "of course you'll be at the front of the line; didn't mommy always say your Spirographs were the best?" Fucking douchebags.
6:04pm Gordon walks in.
6:06pm I'm roused back to consciousness. This guy doesn't walk as much as pounce from spot to spot like a cat. Unreal. With a staunch record of heterosexuality on my curriculum vitae (Khaki in Woodstock, you know what I'm saying baby) I don't mind writing here how unbelievably charasmatic this dude is. He is raw energy beaming; every piece of sinew and muscle is poised to spring at all times. Unreal.
6:07pm I am about 7 feet away from him, he has pounced into the cashier's space and is complimenting them on their store, how beautiful it is. They are as swept of their feet as I am, and then BOOM he's a the table, standing there ready to sign, Sharpie unholstered.
6:09pm it is time. I approach. I am awestruck. Sticks out his hand, big beefy firm handshake.
Gordon: Hi, how are you?
Xmastime: Hi...I'm sorry, they say I might have the wrong book...
Gordon: (grabbing book from me) aw, fuck that, no agendas here (signs book happily)
Xmastime: geez, if you knew how much I wrote about you on my blog you'd punch me in the face
Gordon: ha! that's great! hey, (extending hand again) thanks a lot for coming, buddy (big wink)
Xmastime: (shaking hand) thank you, thanks a lot
TOTAL eye contact the whole time. Called me "buddy"!!!!! My feet didn't touch the ground all the way to the 6 train. Left Op a breathless message before going downstairs.
Just looking at him in real life made me ashamed of how little I've done, how lifeless I am. He exudes energy and clarity; I walk around in a dumb fog accomplishing zero. Over and over. I'm not gonna boldly proclaim that meeting him has made me decide to turn my life around since I will surely fail as per usual, but it is the first time I've been confronted with such thoughts merely by someone's prescence. Just like when I met Bruce, I'm fascinated that there are people with such levels of success - not Paris Hilton fake success, but success built from nothing. Be it the best chef in the world or the best at mumblety-peg, it's an amazing thing to be. And Gordon is it. Can I really be inspired to act by touching such greatness? We'll see.