That's the short version. Are you ready for the long one? Here goes...
So Ree was going to start signing her cookbooks at 1:00 pm in Nordstrom Court. I thought I'd get there around noon. An hour early sounded good, right?
Oh, was the joke ever on me. Was. It. Ever.
It's hard to tell from these pictures how many people are in line. Trust me, it was A LOT. I gave Darren my camera and had him run up to the second floor to take pictures of it.
I know you just looked at those pictures and said, "That doesn't look like that many people." You're wrong. Allow me to explain the line to you. Look at the big group of people in the middle of the first and second pictures. They are at the end of the big group of people in the third picture. Then, in the third picture, envision (if you can) and large line that goes from the end of the people in the first picture all the way back up and around behind the MOA stage. You can see these people on the left of the third picture. Go back to the first picture. I'm in the bottom-right corner in a gray shirt (not the pregnant lady) at the end of that very long line that wraps around the backside of the stage before it even gets close to the formation of the real line.
Alright, I can tell you still don't believe me. Maybe this will help you: five hours.
You heard me.
That's all I have to say about that.
At 1:00 Ree came on stage. She answered a couple questions and talked for about five minutes before the signing. She did mention that she's planning on publishing Black Heels to Tractor Wheels (click here) eventually, including a second part she's never before written about. I'm a little excited. A link to Black Heels is what first got me onto Ree's website, so I thought it was kind of funny.
After about 30 minutes of waiting in line, during which I'd moved about two feet, I saw these two people taking pictures of something. I thought, what on earth are they taking a picture of? And all of a sudden, there was Marlboro Man!
(No, not the Marlboro Man. Ree's husband. You have to read her website to understand.)
So I took a picture of him and their two boys. Notice the gawkers in the background.
M.M. left after a while and I moved another six inches in line. He reappeared about 30 or so minutes later. I took a picture of him signing people's cookbooks because, why not? It's not like I had anything better to do besides stand in that line.
Two hours in and I made it around the backside of the stage. It was about this time Nicole (the woman I was standing with) and I started taking bets on how long it would take us to get to the front. She said 6:15. I said 5:30. I won.
I was halfway certain this was the closest I'd get to Ree so I snapped a picture. You might be wondering why I stayed in line for so long. Well, I am too. There are two reasons. I had read on Ree's site that some people waited in line for three hours in Little Rock or some such place, so reason number one, I was not expecting it to take so long. And reason number two, I wasn't about to stand in line for two hours and then leave. Oh no. I was committed by then. I was going to stand in line until that cookbook got signed or Ree left or I passed out from lack of food and water.
To add to the excitement, TLC had a film crew there filming a series on mall cops.
I kid you not.
But wait, it gets better. Not only were they filming a TV series on mall cops, they were filming a TV series on MALL OF AMERICA mall cops. Check here if you don't believe me.
So here we were, just standing in line, and all of a sudden there's a camera pointing at us and the camera man is asking us what we're doing, how long we've been in line, etc. We're all just laughing and joking and having a good time. One of the women is trying to give a mall cop $20 to take her to the front of the line. I think nothing of it (I hadn't yet seen the sign) and the mall cop says we're to go five at a time to the next section of the line, which was a ways away from where we were. There were major line issues, if you haven't yet realized.
We all walk over to the next part of the line. I sit down on the edge of the water pool/fountain thing and before I know it there's this woman shoving a piece of paper in my face saying "print your name here and here and sign here." I have to say I didn't even read it, so heaven only knows what she had me sign. I saw her TLC badge so I assumed she was legit. Then she held her iPhone in my face and took a picture of me holding my name. "So we can match you up with your footage" she said.
You can see the camera crew in the background of this picture.
Five hours in a line and you make some friends. From right to left, Nicole's girl Lauren (I think that was her name); Nicole from Waverly, IA; Leah who had an adorable little boy named Thomas; Kendra in the black; and Kendra's mom in the pink. Kendra's mom brought us chocolate. I really liked her. And then that's the TLC woman next to her.
Marlboro Man was sitting at a table signing cookbooks with the two boys. Nicole and I had him sign ours. And please notice the marker all over the boys' faces. So freaking adorable.
My picture with Ladd Drummond.
Shortly after this I got to witness the mall cops in action, if you can believe it. Someone had left a bag on a bench close to us and we got to watch the cops shut down the street for about 10 minutes. The bomb dog came and everything. He was a cute puppy.
People kept stopping and staring, trying to figure out who the celebrity was. I cannot even tell you how many people came up to me and asked, "Who is everyone in line for?" I'd show them my cookbook and say "Ree Drummond" and they would look at me like I was crazy. Which I may have well been.
I noticed the woman's shoes about two hours before I took this picture. Who knows how long she stood in line with them on. I probably would have passed out from the pain.
Finally, the front of the line!
Ree making a face about something. The only picture I got of her without some stranger in it. I sort of felt bad putting it on here until I saw this next picture.
Pretty sure I should have asked the girl to take another one since I was talking. Ree looks like she's sick to death of smiling. I'm sure I would be too. Anyway, so I was talking in the middle of this picture telling the girl that it didn't take. Ree was like, "I've learned to just sit here and smile for a while until I see a flash." Poor woman. I asked if she was surviving. She said she had it easier than everyone standing. I though, you have no idea, Ree. No idea. But I felt it would be rude to say that.
Thanks for signing my cookbook Ree. I'm glad I waited five hours in line to see you.
You too, Marlboro Man.