Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Celebration of Celebrity

I work for a large, well known department store chain. To generate traffic when promoting a  product stores will, on occasion, host personal appearances of the designers or celebrities associated with them. These are known in the business by the abbreviation P.A.s.

So it happened that on a Wednesday morning people lined up to spend a few seconds of their lives and if very fortunate have a picture taken with one of the male dancers from the disturbingly popular program "Dancing With the Stars". Two women drive from St Louis, a 5 hour trip each way, and stayed overnight in a hotel, to ensure they would be one of the first in line for this experience. They arrived 2 hours prior to the scheduled start time of the appearance waiting with great anticipation as a queue formed behind them. The crowd was overwhelmingly female as the man is supposed to possess a certain sex appeal, which, as an aside, is completely lost on me. He had attached his name to a line of men's jewelry which I'm fairly certain he had little or no involvement in the designing of. He was clearly attempting to garner as much cash as he could before being condemned to trading on his former fame by opening a chain of ballroom dancing schools. One can imagine him in late middle age, still orange from a fresh spray tan, shirt unbuttoned to reveal a shaved, somewhat sagging chest, twirling suburban housewives about a linoleum floor in a strip mall storefront.

Slowly the dancers "people" filed in. These included handlers, including one exceptionally thin, elderly man in a black suit, moccasins and no socks, whose duties I never could quite pinpoint, as well as sound techs and managers. I found myself thinking the president of the United States travels with a smaller entourage. Local new reporters and cameramen appeared, determined to get a few words from our visitor and obtain a decent piece of video of this historic, news worthy event.

A squeal arose from the horde of women as the man of the hour appeared. Unshaven, his hair uncombed, it looked as if he had rolled out of bed and donned whatever clothing was lying around his hotel room floor that morning. This lack of attention to grooming did not dampen the adoration of the, at this point, terrifying, hormonally charged crowd of women.

The line began to move forward. The jewelry that he was there to promote displayed in a case beside him received scant, if any, attention. Our "star" proceeded to sign autographs, pose for pictures and hold and kiss the babies handed to him like a politician vying for votes. I am not exaggerating, people were actually handing their offspring to him. What did they expect him to do....bless them? Occasionally he would twirl or dip a member of the assembled masses. This caused the women, who at this point I was becoming acutely embarrassed for, to scream like teenagers. With almost superhuman will power I kept myself from approaching the line and screaming "Don't you people have lives!"

As the time drew near for our pseudo-celebrity to depart there was still a line of people waiting to bask in his aura. He suggested that as he left he would hug each of the people still in line. It was at this point that I believe several of the women wet themselves.

As the disheveled gentleman and his entourage departed in what, according to eye witness reports, was a limo of almost obscene proportions, the crowd began to disburse. Obviously, none of them purchased a thing making me wonder why my employer had even sponsored such an event. As I watched them scatter a single thought came into my head, "It could have been worse. His last name could have been Kardashian."


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