Mee and Ree: A Creeper's Account

I was introduced to The Pioneer Woman blog some time in 2007; My friend forwarded a link for a recipe that The Pioneer Woman had posted on her blog, and since I have a family who eats food, I thought they might like for me to make them some. At that time in my life, I was still sorting out the whole "cooking" thing- I wasn't really a fan of it.  I didn't mind the cooking part, but it just took so long, and my family would complete the dining process, start to finish, in about 10 minutes, and then I was left with another 30 minutes of clean up. It was really boring, and I wasn't very good at it, either (probably due to my lack of interest); I loved good food, and was semi-annoyed that mine wasn't that great.  The Pioneer Woman's recipes looked like just the sort of remedy for the  food "blahhhhs" that I needed. I started with her lasagna recipe.
She guaranteed that it would make people add me to their life insurance policies, or pledge undying loyalty to me, or something extravagant like that.  Sounded like a winner.
The lasagna DID indeed perform well, and so I tried other recipes.  Each one was spot-on delicious, and I was beginning to get a reputation among my family members as being a "good cook".  Even guests were becoming complimentary- I was used to hearing, "well, that was interesting" or, "is your mom cooking anything?", but suddenly,  people were asking me for my recipes.
When my mom asked me to make the Thanksgiving turkey, instead of bringing my usual candied yams (open several cans of yams, add random amounts of sugar, butter, cinnamon, and marshmallows; whip and it's done), I knew that I had arrived.  In the midst of all the cooking, I was also reading The Pioneer Woman's blog posts.  Her thoughts were so quirky, her style scatty yet intelligent...and refreshingly honest- a trait that I have come to relish in my cranky old age. As I read through her posts, I found myself relating to her inner monologue- when I read her post in "Gross-Out Stories" titled, "Paper Clips, Toenails, and Middle Child Syndrome", I felt my heart leap in my chest.  I had met my match.  With these words, The Pioneer Woman had captivated my attention:
"That day, for reasons I’m still trying to fully discern, I felt it would be appropriate to remove my shoe and sock, wedge a large paperclip behind my partially disengaging toenail, and slowly inch it toward the cute boys’ desks in front of me. And that’s what I did."
  She had me at "partially disengaging toenail."  I said to myself, "That lady is gonna be my new best friend".   Obviously, when I found out that she was coming to Dallas in December 2009 for a book signing, I made my plans to ensure that not only would I be there, but I would be first in line, and with gifts. I put together a gift bag with nail polishes that I thought suited her personality (eh-hem...stalker...), a gift certificate to my personal salon for a mani-pedi (perceived as weird at best, potentially psycho at worst), and some other things that I can't recall- the bag was full of crap, for sure   When the day came, I was thinking of all the witty things I was gonna say.  She would feel our connection immediately. I was TOTALLY gonna get invited to her ranch for a slumber party where Ree (that's what I call her...ok...that's what everyone calls her, 'cause it's her name...but still...) and I would paint each others' nails (she would be amazed at my expertise in this area), and would swap child-rearing misadventures while cooking together (my turn to be amazed).  Our girls could play together, and our boys could chase cattle and tear it up outside.  I didn't put our hubbies together, though- I couldn't imagine her Marlboro Man being remotely interested in my Love's mad DJ skills, nor could I imagine Mine castrating a bull...They would have to be left out of the equation for now..  

When the encounter took place, I was prepared.  I was fourth in line (of over 400), gift in hand, witty conversation starter in mind.

As I approached her table, I felt like the kid in A Christmas Story, when he meets Santa and agrees to a football instead of the Red Rider gun that he so desperately wanted.  "uhhhh...Hiiiiiiiiieee, Reeeeee....I am sooooo excited to seeeee you... I brought you a gift".

"What is it?" ,

she asks, and I reply, "oh, just some stuff."  And that was just about it.  She was a busy women- I didn't want to hold up the line with an inventory of my fanfare...

[highlight]Plus, a sudden insecurity overcame me on the issue of the perception of appropriateness of my gifts. [/highlight]

She signed my books, and I walked on.  I passed her precious daughters, who were giving out free footballs, er, I mean T-shirts, coveteously received one, and walked out the door.

Very anti-climatic, and not at all what I had envisioned.  Here's a depiction of events described:

This is me, leaning wayyyyy into her bubble (I always do that- I can't help it...), and probably freaking her out a bit. Or a lot.

HOWEVER, as fate would have it, Ree was scheduled to come to Dallas again on Valentine's Day 2011 for another book signing , I definately wanted to be there, and knew that my honey had a DJ job that night (junior high kids STOLE my Valentine! Whatever!), but there was the issue of a babysitter on Valentines (ain't NO way I'm taking my kids to stand in line for over an there's the whole MOJO thing- *see "loose electricty" blog post*), and I got called in to substitute at a Spa, and the pedicure wouldn't be finished 'till 5:30...

I knew that all of these obstacles could pose a bust for going to meet Ree (we're on a first name basis).  So, I made very loose plans to attend, didn't prepare ahead- no fanticizing how our meeting would go, and just rolled with the day. I took another gift box (any guesses as to what I brought this time?  Anyone? Anyone?  Starts with an "S" and ends with an "avvy Bohème").  And wouldn't ya know, I was able to see her again!  I was late, got in line, and waited.  And it was so worth it!  This time I was relaxed, didn't try to elicit an invitation to a slumber party, and was extremely comfortable with the gifts that I gave her.  Here is a depiction of that evening:


 Look at that! Totes BFFs! (contrary to popular opinion, I am NOT holding her down, NOR is she gritting her teeth...I think...)

So, the moral to the story is: Don't creep people out, and you can enjoy the benefits of their presence.

Creep 'em out, and you're gone.

Update: Since the GREAT HOME REMODEL of 2012/13, I have reverted to my old ways: I hate cooking, unless it's a holiday, I don't eat no meat, and haven't learned new veggie recipes, and noone wants to eat my kale salads.
 But I DO still make the turkey for Thanksgiving. The recipe is fool-proof. And  when I do cook, Ree is still my go-to girl. :)
Keri Lehmann
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