It looked like more than 100 people lingered to meet Anthony Bourdain when the lights came up at the Durham Performing Arts Center on February 19, and they were mostly seated in the front rows. Barnes & Noble had been selling most of his titles in the lobby, but many women like me carried large purses containing their own books. I had brought No Reservations: Around the World on an Empty Stomach.
This is the only area where DPAC fell short, in my opinion. After paying an extra $65 to get up close to Bourdain, these fans deserved more than the hurried cattle call they got.
After no one seemed to be taking charge, we all began trickling out a side door of the auditorium in considerable confusion. Quite a few people said, “Screw this,” and headed for the exit. The rest of us made our way up some stairs to the bare, cavernous backstage area, where a long table had been set up for Bourdain.
Tony was seated behind it, surrounded by DPAC handlers who mostly blocked anyone from getting any good photos of him. Cameras had been prohibited in the auditorium, and they weren’t encouraging photos ops now, but I caught this profile as I stood in line.
We were told to write our preferred inscription on an index card and insert it in the title page of our book. Someone took my book and it got ahead of me in line, so when Tony read my card saying, “Karen,” a man was standing with it.
I quickly switched places with the guy and handed Tony a copy of my book, How to Work Like a CAT. He looked up at me with a broad smile (not snarling at all), reached out to shake my hand, and asked, “Do you want this written to Karen or to Cats Working?”
The jig was up.
I said, “Either way,” and he proceeded to write…
And draw on the facing page…
Inscribing my book took him so long that the DPAC people started getting antsy. One of them said, “Maybe we should get him another pen.” The people in line behind me watched us in silence.
While he scribbled, I managed a bit of chit-chat and he set the record straight on something very important. But more on that later.
Then I whipped out my camera and asked if we could have a photo. Tony readily stood up and let me come around the table so another fan could snap us together.
Then he resumed his seat, handed my signed book back to me, and shook my hand again with a big smile, saying it was good meeting me.
I reached over, touched the cover of my little book, and told him, “You embody working like a cat,” before a DPAC goon pointed me toward the opposite wall, where I had to find a way out and ended up on the stage.
I’m saving what I learned from my encounter with Bourdain for last so I can do the topic full justice with its own post. Stay tuned…