True Celebrity is Only Limo Ride Away

-By Lori Bryant Woolridge (Cross posted from the Femme Fantastik Blog)

We're sending a car." Sweet words to every mid-list author's ears.

Before the story begins, let's be clear about why ground transportation is such a desirable perk. For A-List authors, your E. Lynns, Terrys, Erics, Grishams, Pattersons, Tans, a sleek, shiny, limo waiting to pick them up at the airport and whisk them off to their scheduled events is a given. Doesn't matter if they are on official book tour or doing some other event in between releases. A car and driver is part of the package (you know, the requisite big All-5 package--five figure honorarium, five star hotel, etc).

On the other hand... for fabulous, up-and-coming authors (like the Femmes), after the official, publisher sponsored, book tour is over, we're pretty much on our own when it comes to most promotional appearances. So when some event planner tells you they're sending a car to meet you at the airport, it's all good. Like 'abracadabra', those four little words have the magic ability to transform you from a worn out soccer mom, whose refrigerator is empty and laundry room is overflowing (am I ruining the glamorous image you all have of us authors), into the diva, celebrity author you become once you strip off the sweats and sneakers, pull on your pencil skirt and power shoes (usually stilettos), pack up your bookmarks and strut down the jetway on your way to Audienceville.

And can I tell you, hopping on that airplane knowing that a limo is waiting for you on the other side, changes a sistah. Quick! Somebody hand me some very dark and oversized sunglasses. And while you're at it, toss me a bottle of Evian and some M & M's. Green only please.

But there are levels of celebrity to be sure. And you know just how big your are (or not) by the little things...the fine details that let you know just where your name falls (or not) on the "list."

The organizers of the final Femme event for 2005, the wonderful ladies of Delta Sigma Theta, thoughtfully sent a stretch limo to pick Nina, Carmen, and me from the airport. (Note: to their credit, this was the first time they'd used this company and were more upset over the service than we were.) We all arranged to arrive at LAX within an hour of each other. Nina and Carmen were the first to be picked up and then they proceeded on to Terminal 6 to get me.

Everything had gone like clockwork on my flight so within 20 minutes of landing I had my luggage and was waiting outside where all of the other limos were parked. Okay, I'll be honest, I was kind of hoping that the white folks I'd spent the last five hours talking to would see my celebrity behind climb into my stretch and zip off to my next fabulous event, but there was no snappily dressed chauffeur with my name neatly printed on a sign there to greet me. So after five minutes or so, I called Carmen to find out if they'd been delayed.

"Where are you guys?"

"In the garage, " Carmen answered. "The driver is coming in to meet you."

I didn't get a chance to inquire as to why they weren't outside the terminal where all the other limo drivers were waiting for their celebrities because she had more info to impart.

"He's got a sign with your name on it. And there's a little girl with a black sweatsuit on with him," Carmen volunteered very matter-of-factly.

Okay, the sign I understood, but little girl?

"And uh, Lori, he can only move his neck one way."

I let that one breeze by.

"I think I see him," I told her. And yes, there stood a tall brotha wearing baggy jeans hanging down his backside, the legs pooling around the tops of his bright, white sneakers, holding what appeared to be the Soul Train Scrabble Board. Through the jumble of letters I could make out enough letters in my name, but even if I was unsure, the cute, little girl in the black sweatsuit was a dead giveaway. They were like the urban version of Mr. Rourke and Tattoo, the greeting committee on Fantasy Island.

He stiffly craned his neck around to the right as he mumbled my name. Quick somebody get me my sunglasses! The bling from his 56 carat 'diamond' stud is blinding me. As he grabbed my luggage, I did a quick look around. Whew. Thank God, the white folks were no where to be found! I didn't need an audience watching as I dropped down a couple of notches on the celebrity scale.

We walked to what seemed like the next state (hello, somehow I don't think Angelina Jolie has to put on hiking boots and break a sweat to find her car. And if by some chance she did, I doubt she'd have to see her driver's underwear the entire trip) and finally stopped in front of a sleek, shiny black stretch limo. I waited for him to put my luggage into the trunk but instead, Brothaman opened the door and threw my suitcase on to the pile of Nina and Carmen's that filled up the available floor space. Just happy to see my girls after such a long time, I climbed in and sat on the long seat and we greeted each other like long lost sisters.

"Nina the rest of your shoes must be taking up all the trunk space," I teased as we drove through the garage, one leg resting on top of her shoe bag the other stuffed between Carmen's large and extra large, black bags. Damn ladies, we're only in town for two days!

"No girl, there were too many tires in the trunk to fit any luggage." We all cracked up.

"Why are you all sitting in the garage? And why did I have to hike fifteen miles to get to my LIMO?" I asked with with mock indignation.

"Well, I don't think he has a permit to work the airport," Carmen offered. "He got a ticket while he was waiting for us." Again, we erupted in gales of laughter. "I think this is a bootleg limo service."

Yah think?

"Nina, turn on the radio so he can't hear us." I suggested. I figured we should at least be respectful as we talked about the guy.

"Can't. It doesn't work."

"Well then, turn on the TV."

"Can't. It doesn't work either. Just static," she said as she found the button to raise the divider. After a few hopeful grinding noises it went up, separating us from folks in the front seat.

"I bet the sh*t in Terry's limo would work," Carmen added.

"Yeah, but more importantly, I bet her limo driver would be able to see what's coming in both directions!"

"And wouldn't need a six-year old to help him navigate. I think we're lost," Carmen said looking out the window.

"I'm thirsty." I said eyeing the highball glasses and champagne flutes nesting across the opposite side of the car.

"Well unless you're up for drinking napkins or have your own water bottle you're out of luck."

"That's the difference between A list and the C list," I sighed. "But at least they sent a car. And even a jacked up limo with a trunk full of tires is better than taking one of those shuttle buses that stops at every hotel between here and east where you goin."

I can't tell you their response because just as the words left my parched mouth I, along with my handbag, sweater and the luggage, went flying across the seat like a shot of bourbon across the bar. Carmen quickly grabbed my ankles to keep me from banging my head on the front wall.

"Guess something must have come at him from the left side," Nina suggested with her usual deadpan delivery. The three of us just busted out in continuous waves of giggles.

A few miles later after another abrupt stop, which once again jolted me across the car and caused the contents of my purse to spill all over the floor, Carmen decided to trade places so I could put on the seat belt and stay put for the rest of the ride.

Taking it all in stride, we continued laughing off and on until we pulled into the hotel. We scurried to pick up the belongings that had scattered across the car during the hurly burly ride and get ourselves together for our grand arrival.

When brotherman opened the door, we were all back in D.I.V.A. (Determined, Intelligent, Vibrant, Authors) mode. Three fabulous women stepped from the car, hair coiffed, makeup flawless, sunglasses in place. We had our celebrity images to think of. Who knew if the paparazzi had been alerted!

Forget the ghetto fabulous driver, the for-show-only bar setup, the busted radio and television, we had arrived in style. And as we sashayed across the empty drive way and into an empty lobby, there wasn't a soul who could tell us that we weren't on the A list. And for the time it took us to check in and get to our room where we realized that we were right next to the very noisy ice maker and the phone on the desk didn't work, we believed it ourselves.


Anonymous said…
Aspiring literary divas taking a ride with the bootleg ghetto limo service....sounds like a book and a half to me.

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