The Year: 1998
The Place: Calgary, Alberta (home to one of the biggest rodeos on Earth, among other things)
The Event: An Evening with Martha Stewart
When my boss asked me to attend a dinner where Martha would be the keynote speaker I wasn’t exactly psyched: anyone who reads this blog or has been to my house knows that crafts are not my thing. I possess neither the patience nor the skill to create Handmade Body Scrub and Mini Terrarium Place Cards.*
I was obligated to attend because my client at the ad agency where I worked bought ad space in Martha’s magazine. The only person less interested than I in spending an evening with Martha was the Serb. We were newly dating at the time, so I didn’t press the issue (I would totally make him share my pain if it happened today).
I asked N, a pal from work, to be my date. As an interior designer, N worshipped all things Martha. When I informed N that we would meet Martha at an exclusive reception prior to the dinner, she had to leave the office and calm down with a cigarette (she doesn’t smoke).
On the day of the event, N and I went to the venue straight from work. I was wearing slim-fitting brown pants, a chartreuse green silk blouse and brown boots with a slight heel (normally you wouldn’t need to know my ensemble; this time you do). N was decked out in some cool designer-type outfit. Martha wore a power suit that was blue, although I’m sure she referred to it as Aegean Sea or similar, and beige (Tobacco Glaze?) stilettos.
When introduced to Martha, I shook her hand and asked if she had enjoyed her helicopter ride through Banff and the Rocky Mountains earlier that day. Martha replied that it was lovely, aside from being delayed and throwing her team off schedule. Despite having nothing to do with her stupid helicopter ride I found myself apologizing, like I was an employee, for the inconvenience.
My co-worker N decided to take a more casual, personal approach. In retrospect, I think she may have been stoned.
“Omigod, Martha. Please tell me you did not wear those to the mountains,” N said, indicating to Martha’s shoes.
I stood beside them, mute with shock, as N went on to disparage Martha and her choice of footwear. After a minute or so, Martha had clearly had enough.
“What am I supposed to wear?” she sniped. “Do you expect me to trudge around in the dirt all day looking like that wearing those?”
At “that” she motioned in my direction. Nobody else was standing near me. There was no mistaking the subject of her scorn. “That” was me. “Those” were obviously my cute brown boots.
The meet and greet had become a slash and burn. I was dying of mortification while N rummaged in her bag for a cigarette (of one sort or another). We were quickly ushered to our seats, set among hundreds of women who had paid hundreds of dollars to worship their idol.
Martha’s presentation was less than stellar. She interrupted herself throughout her speech to complain that the lighting and acoustics were not to her specifications. She insulted the décor of the facility. She clearly did not want to be there.
In fairness to Martha, her personal taste had just been questioned by a random commoner. Plus, she was presenting in a building called The Corral—you can hardly blame her for feeling a bit crotchety.
All of this went down well before her infamous trial and incarceration—therefore, I choose to believe that spending some time in the clink softened her around the edges a little bit. And if not, I take comfort in the fact that I wasn’t alone in witnessing what a stone-cold bitch Martha Stewart could be, at least for one night.**
*Note: I just went to her website for some crafty examples and have broken into a full sweat.
**The evening had a silver lining: after the event we grabbed the Serb and went dancing with Martha’s personal assistant, who assured us that Martha was a delightful taskmaster.