The line started 10 feet away from a table in the back of the store, snaked around long rows of wine, out the front doors, all the way to the back of the building, then past another building and into a parking lot, which was so jam-packed with cars tow trucks were called out to tidy up. The dark sky overhead was either an approaching storm or God's wrath for the absurdity of it all.
Five minutes after the event started the fat clouds opened up, but wind gusts and driving rain didn't even put a dent in the crowd. A security guard worked the front door like a bouncer at a club, allowing only a few soaked people in at a time. One lady waited in line for more than an hour and got drenched even though her foot was in a walking cast. And, that's not all. She was also pushing a baby stroller. And, yes, a real baby was in the stroller -- although she did somehow manage to keep baby and stroller completely dry.
So, what's all this hoopla? Was Paul McCartney in town? The pope? Robert Plant? Heck, I'll even throw out Miley Cyrus? Maybe Troy Aikman was giving out autographs? No, wait! I got it. J.K. Rowling was doing a book signing? The Queen of England? Nope, none of that.
It was Bethenny Frankel.
Who, you ask? My. Point. Exactly.
Frankel was on The Real Housewives of New York City, which I never really got into. All that hostility and tension was uncomfortable to me. I prefer the Real Housewives of Oak Cliff (if you haven't Facebook friended them yet, then do so immediately.) Anyway, now she has her own show, Bethenny Ever After. She's also written a few books, and the reason for her Dallas visit on Friday was to promote her Skinnygirl Margarita at a few Majestic and Sigel's liquor stores. Basically it was just a chance to take some pictures with people and sign bottles. That's it. That's why the line was the length of two buildings in the pouring rain (or God's wrath).
Whitney McCumber of Dallas arrived at the Majestic liquor store in Addison at 7 a.m. Friday so she could be the first person in line to see Frankel. Whitney, why, why, why? You're a cute, smart girl. Please, sell me on this.
And, well, actually she did. See, she bought Bethenny's book, Naturally Thin, on February 18 and has dropped 20 pounds since that day. Losing that much weight is hard work and something to be proud of. Her waiting in line was, as her mother, Barbara, put it, "An affirmation of sorts."
Barbara added, "Although It did feel a little weird dropping my daughter off at a liquor store at 7 o'clock this morning." But, don't we all do that at some point?
Frankel's traveling circus was almost as mind-boggling as the crowd. Ferried around the city in a stretch limo, she had about five handlers and a ton of security. All these guys would stand around the table where she was signing and every now and then one would put their arms in the air and with stern face boom, "Everyone needs to move back," or, "Have your book open to the page you want signed!" Sheese. Really?
What I found most astounding was the process of getting Frankel's autograph. First of all, no one was allowed to take pictures. Instead there was a professional photographer taking shots that would later be posted on Facebook. So, people, many of whom were soaked, were allowed to walk up to Frankel, hand her their pre-bought bottle of Skinnygirl Margarita, smile for the camera, and then, they didn't have to go home, but they sho-tha-fakowi couldn't stay there. Once at the front of the line, it was all instantly over. I watched as mom Barbara tried to tell Frankel about her daughter's weight loss and a handler physically pulled her away after maybe 15 seconds. They were in line for 10 hours.
No one seemed to mind even though plenty admitted that they felt rushed through. Maybe it's a New York-minute thing. I would like to see the New Jersey Housewives get hustled through a line the same way. I'd pay money to watch that.
After observing all the hoopla, the menacing clouds outside reminded me of the Mayan doomsday prediction. Man, what if I'm here when the world ends? That would SUCK!
So, I bought a bottle and left. I never found out if the name "Skinnygirl" was a self-reflection for Frankel or a message of hope to overweight drinkers. Regardless, the margaritas taste fine. (Yes, just fine. Not great. Not bad. Fine.) And at 100-calories per serving they leave plenty of room for a plate of enchiladas.
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