Friday, January 7, 2011

Snooki and the book signing

Snooki isn't a name. It's slang, a colloquialism of informal speech best used for stuffed animals and cute pets, a name befitting puggles and hamsters.

(My first pet was a hamster with a name ironically similar to "Snooki", I named him Snoochi - until he died of wet tail. There was a Snoochi II, III, and IV - they died of wet tail too. Don't ever name your hamster Snoochi unless you want them to die of wet tail.)

Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi, better known as Snooki, is a reality TV star from the hit show Jersey Shore, an MTV show about eight Italian roommates from New York pretending to be from New Jersey having to share a house together. There's Jenni "JWowww" Farley, Paul "Pauly D"DelVecchio, and of course Michael "The Situation" Sorrentino; Jersey Shore is a mash-up of MTV's the Real World blended with HBO's the Soprano's.

Four foot nine with poufed hair, fake tan, big boobs and enough mascara to rival a raccoon, Snooki is one of the more popular characters from the show. Snooki isn't pretty, most men wouldn't give her a second glance, but what Snooki doesn't have in looks she makes up for in humor. Girls adore Snooki because of all the cast members on Jersey Shore, she's the one most of them would like to hang out with.

She even has a book, A Shore Thing. Written by Snooki's ghost writer Valerie Frankel, A Shore Thing is a novel about a girl named "Gia" who resembles Snooki and has lots of hot sex with a beefy Italian firefighter named Frank. Valerie Frankel may have written the book, but Snooki gave her lots of ideas, and Snooki's face is on the cover and on the back, so it's almost like Snooki wrote the entire thing all by herself.

So why am I writing about Snooki, you ask? Good question. I'm writing about Snooki because I went to her book signing at the Grove.

When I saw the sign at Barnes and Noble promoting the book signing I immediately texted Parrish, who is a huge fan of Jersey Shore. I didn't think Parrish would want to go, but she texted me back almost instantly. "Let's Go!!"

What the hell, at least I'll get a blog out of it.

When you attend a book signing, most stores will demand you purchase a copy of the book from the store for the author to sign. Because Snooki is a high profile reality TV celebrity, Barnes and Noble is handing out alphabetized wrist bands along with brand new copies of the book for $26.95. Grumbling, I pay it. They won't let me stand in line with Parrish if I don't have my own book. We are given a flyer with a number of guidelines and rules:

. Posed photography WILL NOT be allowed. Photographs may be taken from the signing line only.
. Other memorabilia WILL NOT be allowed.
. Personalization WILL NOT be available.

It's only four o'clock, we've got some time to kill. We hit the Cafe Moza and people watch.

Two and a half hours later after eating a feast of fine french cheeses and bread and beer, we trek back into the store. People are already lining up, but I cut through to the front and find that because we purchased our wrist bands early, we can move past the majority of the people waiting. I estimate there is probably about three hundred people here, most of them young women with their mothers and a handful of hapless boyfriends.

A trio of teenage girls behind us begin giggling and screaming uncontrollably as soon as Snooki appears. "Snooki!" one of them screams. Snooki waves, escorted by an entourage of security guards, managers, agents, photographers and book store staff. She's short, tiny, would be forgettable except she is surrounded by the aura of celebrity, and that makes her the most envied person in the room.

"Oh my God!" one of the girls behind us gushes. "She is so short!"

"Quiet!" another girl admonishes her friend. "She'll hear you!"

"Are you girls from LA?" I ask.

"No, we're from Newport." (That's the OC.)

"Have you met anyone famous?"

"Well, we met the cast of Jack Ass!" the prettiest one titters. "But I'd really like to meet Justin Bieber."

"If I met Justin Bieber I'd pee my pants," another girl cuts in. "Why are you here?"

"I'm writing a story for my blog."

Her eyes go round. "You have a blog! Are you someone famous?"

Parrish gives me the eye, trying to hide her smirk. I sigh, oh the lies I could spin, the lies I could spin. "No, I'm not famous. Only in my own head."

Snooki comes back out and girls at random begin screaming, WE LOVE YOU SNOOKI! A member of the staff opens up a copy of the book, instructing us to have the novel open to the front page for Snooki to sign. I pull out my iPhone, attempting to figure out how to zoom in the camera. Should have checked that out earlier, because the line is moving forward like a water slide at the park, people being processed in groups as Snooki signs her name over and over again in book after book in a bright pink pen.

There must have be at least fifty people in front of us, but the store crew has them filed past Snooki in under ten minutes. Books primed, we hand them to a store clerk who passes the books to Snooki. I try to get in close to take a picture on my phone, but security stops me.

"Sir, you'll need to turn off that phone. No camera's past the line."

I shut it off. Risking my phone to get a close up of Snooki just ain't worth it.

As I walk up for a brief moment Snooki and I glance at one another. I permit myself a polite smile, and give her a small nod. To her credit, Snooki doesn't pretend that I'm some super fan who has been just dying to get a chance to meet her. Beneath the make up, the tan, and the poufed up hair, she looks tired, weary, a five minute celebrity running a marathon because the moment she quits, it's over.

She signs the book, and I move on.

As we exit a member of the staff cuts off and collects our wristbands, preventing us from selling or giving them away to other people.

"Wow, I can't believe we met Snooki!" Parrish exclaims. "I can't wait to read this ghost written book! What are you going to do with yours?"

"Not sure yet," I reply. Tax write off maybe?

The inanity of fame; how could someone like Snooki, a girl with no talent, accomplishments, or beauty, become an instant celebrity? Snooki is a celebrity precisely because she has no talent, accomplishments, or beauty - she's the young woman many identify with because they all think they could be the next Snooki.

You don't need skill, or intelligence, or looks to be famous; just timing and luck. Who wants to be the next lottery winner, step right up and get a chance to meet Snooki, buy her book! Maybe some of her fame will rub off on you!

Snooki. Like everything else in this country, she's instant and effortless, even her name is disposable. Cultural fast food to be consumed and forgotten. But hey, at the end of the day she's $26.95 ahead, because I still ended up buying her book...

Definitely a tax write off.

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