That Time I Met Gwyneth Paltrow
So clearly this post is a little overdue. It has been a few days since I journeyed up to Beverly Hills to meet Gwyneth Paltrow at a signing for her new cookbook, “It’s All Good.”
A friend had told me about the event weeks ago and honestly, my first instinct was to skip it. I didn’t feel like making the trek, these book signings seem so impersonal, and frankly, giving up gluten, wine and sweets is not on the agenda right now.
And then of all people, my dad convinced me to go. My dad…who probably couldn’t pick Gwyneth Paltrow out of a line up if he had to. You have to go, he told me. You have to go just to tell her about the blog. It doesn’t matter if nothing comes of it. You have to go.
So we went. Because part of me “having to go” meant me “having to go on a Friday” which means insane traffic and a need for a co-pilot. So he, my mom and I hopped in the car and ventured north on a sunny Friday afternoon.
We got to the book signing, scheduled for 6pm, at 4:30pm and there was already a line up. Mainly chic women with a few men mixed in. Williams Sonoma knows how to host a party — they were serving cookies and treats baked from the cookbook, mini root beer floats and fresh water hand-poured from a carafe by a sales associate in a pristine apron. My parents went to window shop on Rodeo. I chatted briefly with a lovely lady behind me in line who knew my blog (!). I looked at $20 graters and $40 measuring cups. I flipped through the book, reading the intro about elimination diets, knowing I am probably a perfect candidate for one these days…then opted for another mini root beer float.
Gwyneth arrived on time. She did a quick photo session (that my mom inadvertently ended up in the middle of, with no camera in hand…) and then the signing began.
Up until that point, it felt like a line up. But suddenly, as bodies started to move forward — quickly — through the queue and I could see her at the table (both of us dressed in white blazers…just sayin’) I started to get nervous.
Who am I? Why should she care that I write this little blog? Why am I any more important than any other fan in this line (because clearly in a weird way, I thought I was…)?
And when I noticed how quickly people were being shuffled through, I got even more nervous. Am I even going to have time to get the blog’s name out? I want her to know it’s not a fan site. I want her to know it’s inspired by women like her who parent and work and friend and shop and eat and love. I wanted to fit so much into so few words in so little time.
A Williams Sonoma staffer took my cell phone to “take pictures” though as you can see below, there was no opportunity for anything posed or even remotely cute.
I went up to the table and honestly, I rambled. I introduced myself and said I write a blog called “What Would Gwyneth Do.” Her publicist was standing to my left. I have worked in PR long enough to know that he probably thinks it’s another fan site. So I started to spill about how it’s a blog about parenting and style and being a working mom and I said the name again, a little slower this time…and suddenly, something clicked.
“YOU write that blog?!?” she said, huge smile on her face. She knew the blog. I don’t know how else to say it. She knew the blog. I could just tell by the look on her face (which is tiny and surprisingly doesn’t seem botox’d at all), by the tone of her voice, by the sudden enthusiasm in her demeanor.
“Yes! And I just want you to know that you are truly an inspiration for women trying to do it all and balance everything and still have a sense of style and ramble, ramble, ramble…”
“Oh my god, that makes me so happy,” she continued. “That makes me want to cry.”
By this point, I am basically crying…well, tearing up a little. I passed a few business cards over to her publicist and told them both I would love it if they checked it out. I shook her hand and thanked her. And I walked over to my waiting parents.
It was quick. The whole thing happened in 45 seconds or so (though my dad said I was by far the longest interaction he had seen in the whole line up). But it was great. It was totally worth it. Not only to tell her about my blog, because that was part of the motivation, but not all of it.
It was worth it to meet her and to actually like her. To expect a fake, Hollywood demeanor and get the exact opposite. To see that she was kind and friendly and genuine and her face moves when she laughs. To see that she wore a white blazer, just like me (though hers was probably not from Zara). That she arrived on time. That her handwriting isn’t that great. That she really does seem cool and normal and yes, glowing and skinny because she doesn’t eat…quite like me.
I was on the street afterwards and I ran into the woman from the line up (who had a killer Saint Laurent hand bag, by the way, which is now firmly on my birthday wish list).
“How did it go?” she asked.
“Good, she knew the blog!”
“She did??” she said, smiling. “That’s amazing.”
And it was.
(above) Me in the early rambling phase, Gwyneth signing away.
(above) Me passing my blog business cards to Stephen Huvane. Editor’s note: much like with Jessica Alba, one cannot feel cute next to Gwyneth. Especially in a blurry iPhone picture.
(above) Gwyneth clearly not faking it. Or if she was, she really did deserve that Oscar.