Thank goodness that I recently joined the Twitter-verse (@StreedsReads)! It was there that I quickly became a follower of one of my favorite authors, Stephen Kinzer (@StephenKinzer), resulting in something I had dreamt of, but never thought would happen: meeting him. On the eve of one week ago, I just happened to be on Twitter late at night…such a romantic thing for a wife (who adores her husband) to do…don’t you think? Instantly I saw the transformative tweet from Kinzer, about his newest release, “The True Flag: Theodore Roosevelt, Mark Twain, and the Birth of American Empire.” If you missed it, details were posted in: Groupie Moment: Countdown to Kinzer.
The next day, I called Vroman’s to reserve my copy of “The True Flag.” No way was I going to risk not having one for the event. Plus, that bookstore’s policy stated that with the purchase of said book, attendees could bring up to three other Kinzer works from home library for the author to sign–YIPPEEEEEE!
But, just one problem: the “Kinzer Groupie” status was achieved by borrowing books from my local library system. The time had come for that big word—“C-O-M-M-I-T-M-E-N-T:” It was the only way to prove my groupie worthiness by purchasing some of the author’s books. My husband revealed that he was already one step ahead of me, because he intended to take me to the local (for us, but not in a corporate sense) bookstore so that we could pick up other Kinzer titles for the event. Finally, I would officially have Kinzer-esque bragging rights!
The store had only two other Kinzer books:
1. All The Shah’s Men: An American Coup and the Roots of Middle East Terror (I read this one years ago, having reviewed it on my Goodreads and LibraryThing profiles at the time; recently, I posted it to this blog as well.)
2. The Brothers: John Foster Dulles, Allen Dulles, and Their Secret World War (I planned to read this one upon its release in 2016 but allowed myself to be lured into temptation by other books…even though they kept their covers on. Shame on me! What kind of Kinzer fan am I?)
My husband and I got dressed up for our date night, because nerds-at-heart do things like this for excitement. We really do! We left our home to allow two and one-half hours for the commute and arrived in approximately 90 minutes…relieved by the lack of normally-heavy Los Angeles and Inland Empire traffic.
Once inside the store, I immediately purchased my book, bringing my “To Be Autographed” set to three pieces; so, I knew I could relax a little bit. I realized that I was in a special place…feeling as though no outside world existed. Endless aisles of texts surrounded us, as well as anything that a book nerd/aficionado would want to couple with reading: luxury pens and high-end stationary sets, fragrant candles and exotic incense, cosmopolitan coffees and unusual teas plus specialty cups/mugs to enjoy them, themed socks and aprons, plus more, more, more. We entered the adjoining cafe and ate a light meal together, not wanting to chance a growling stomach interrupting Stephen Kinzer’s lecture. My husband opted to have some coffee and work for a little bit while I walked around the store…with less than a half-hour left in my “Countdown to Kinzer.”
I’ll never forget what happened next…as I was looking at books in the “Military History section, I heard HIS voice. Not to confuse anyone…it was not GOD’s voice. It was that of the man of the hour (other than the one of every hour, who is my husband) Mr. Stephen Kinzer. I turned toward the voice, and there he was! Adenaline coursed through me, causing my heart to race. For an instant I froze, like a little girl caught with her hand in the cookie jar. The next second I came to my senses, slowly took a deep breath and sauntered away.
How rude of me to walk away, right? I moved calmly, as though seeing Kinzer was an everyday thing. Then, when I rounded the corner, I doubled by pace and raced to get to my husband, back at the cafe. I leaned toward him and in an excited whisper I said, “He’s here!” And, my totally calm and cool husband smiled and said, “That’s why we’re here, right?”
Of course that was why we were there! But why did I walk away from one of my favorite authors, especially when I had been wanting to meet him for years? YEARS!!! My reason was simple. Despite my excitement, I wanted to be respectul of the fact that the man was not “On Stage” or “On Duty” yet. His personal time was his own; so, what possibly appeared to be rudeness or indifference was really about my effort to respect boundaries.
I spent the remaining time just perusing the opposite side of the store taking pictures. Then I began to feel more like a tourist or a really bad wanna-be spy. After two non-covert and very obvious snapshots were taken, I realized I had snapped the most important pre-event images anyway (except a display of “The True Flag“): Scrabble and Shakespeare, and I’ll tell you why.
My husband and I played Scrabble on our first date. We had agreed to meet for coffee; but I brought Scrabble, a Scrabble Players’ Dictionary, and Boggle. He had never played Scrabble before; and, wouldn’t you know it? They guy won the game and the girl!
Shakespeare was a man who snuck into my teenage daughter’s bedroom in a way that I never would have guessed. A while back, my teenage daughter began disappearing to her bedroom and only coming out for meals, school, and quick chores. I was growing concerned; so, one night I tip-toed to her door (wanna-be spy mode, again) and suddenly knocked. She immediately responded for me to come in. That was when I found her in bed with Shakespeare. I was proud to discover that she was disappearing because she did not want to stop reading books. Later I learned that she had been giving her younger brother lessons in Shakespeare, which really warmed my heart. That was why I took a picture of the Shakespeare socks. I think I should get them for her.