I was first introduced to Bethenny Frankel a few years ago during her stint on The Real Housewives of New York City. But she wasn’t exactly a housewife. She was a single lady with big dreams, a dog named Cookie, and a group of fabulous friends.
She was sarcastic, snarky, and had the type of no-holds-barred attitude that I can only dream of having. She was honest, she was real, and she quickly made a fan out of me.
I followed her transition from cast member in the Housewives franchise to star of her own show, Bethenny Getting Married? (Did I mention I’ve never met a Bravo show I didn’t like?) In it, she chronicled her first-ever pregnancy, her booming business, and at the end of the season, her marriage to fiancé Jason. Once again, she was accessible and hilarious in a way that kept me coming back, week after week. It was pretty obvious I was along for the ride in the show’s second season Bethenny Ever After, which was just as wacky and entertaining as its predecessor.
My enthusiasm over the show translated into purchases of her products. I would shout the praises of the Skinnygirl Margarita to anyone who would listen, and celebrated her big win when she sold the brand to a major liquor company for an estimated $120 million. I bought her book, A Place of Yes, which was an extension of her show in many ways because she was sharing even more of her story with the world.
She became more than a TV personality. She became a role model — a woman building a family and an empire — and making it look effortless along the way.
And less than a month into 2012, I got the chance to meet her.
She was signing paperback copies of her book at the Union Square Barnes & Noble, but I hesitated about attending. Would there be 1,000 people there? Would I actually get to meet her face-to-face? What if she’s grumpy and not at all like the person she portrays on my television screen?
After a friendly nudge from my boss and hubby, I jetted over there and was pleasantly surprised to see that I was about the 100th person to arrive. I bought my second copy of the book and waited patiently for her to make her debut.
I was calm, cool and collected when she walked in, but inside I was squealing like a 15-year-old at a Justin Bieber concert. She stopped briefly for photos with the press, and then took the stage to have a chat with the predominantly female — and now standing-room only — crowd that came to see her. She chatted with us like we were at a book club meeting — updating us on the premiere of the third season of her show, taking her daughter to Spanish classes, and her new fiction book, Skinnydipping.
She had time for a Q&A with the audience, and I panicked. I had been mulling a question over in my head to ask, just in case, but was it stupid? Would I be brave enough to raise my hand and ask it?
Eff it. I’m going to ask my question.
I’m pretty sure I blacked out when the Barnes & Noble associate handed me the mic to ask the first question. I think I said hello, I’m pretty sure I called Bethenny a rockstar, and then proceeded to ask: How has social media impacted the way you interact with your fans? Do you have fun with it, or is it overwhelming?
I don’t remember much of her answer, unfortunately, because I was still recovering from the shock of it all, but the main theme was yes, she likes interacting with her fans on social media. (Score!) I have seen many @replies to fans in her Twitter feed, but hadn’t yet received a response to one of my tweets.
Book-signing time came after a few more questions from the crowd, and “surreal” is really the best way to describe it. This was my chance to ask another question, and as a fellow dog lover, I asked, “How’s Cookie?” She told me that she had had a case of the blues recently, but was doing better. Then I told her that she had made my year.
Flash-forward a couple of weeks, and I see her send a tweet, asking about what hashtags mean on Twitter. Being a social media geek, I immediately respond with a clear, succinct explanation, knowing this is a great opportunity to get a tweet back from her.
An hour or two had passed with no response, when my friend Megan tweeted at both her and me, commenting about how she loved that I was giving Bethenny Twitter advice. I tweeted back, mentioning how I thought I was a “shoe-in” to receive a response, but that I hadn’t heard anything from my favorite Skinnygirl.
That’s when I got this:
Now, it’s tough to fully impress upon you how awesome it is to receive a tweet from one of your idols if you’re not active on Twitter, but this was a pretty big deal, especially when he or she has more than 760,000 followers. (And I also now realize that the word I was searching for was “shoo-in,” not shoe-in.) But let’s just say there was an audible gasp, and one of my co-workers thought something devastating had happened.
Meeting her was awesome — and getting a tweet from her was icing on the cake. So, in many ways, this has been the year of Bethenny.