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Writers and Big Red Dogs

Monday, September 24, 2007

On September first, Bill and I had a book signing at the grand opening of a new Books-a-Million near Wheeling, West Virginia. It's one of the many stores that has followed the opening of a Cabela's sporting goods store. We have been in this Cabela's once, just to see what it would be like. We were on our way back from Chautauqua, Chet in tow, and they put Chet in a courtesy kennel for us while we "shopped." By the time we got into the dimly lit Hall of Dead Deer, we were ready to get back out. It was the size of your average ballroom, with a naturalistic island running down the middle, and velvet ropes holding the onlookers back from the exhibits. There were probably 50 mounted bucks standing on the middle island, another 75 around the perimeter of the room, and another 200 whose heads had been lopped off and put up on the wall. I could feel their departed spirits swirling all around me, asking, "What's the big deal about our antlers?" All due respect to hunters and giant gear retailers, that is not my cup of tea.

But I digress. This development, called The Highlands, reminded me of Brasilia. It was so huge, and the distances so vast, that you had to drive from store to store. Each store was bigger than the last. You practically had to drive from your car to the door, the parking lots were so huge. I wondered what had been here before these hundreds of acres went under the bulldozer. Box turtles, oaks and hickories, maples and pines. Tanagers. Eventually we found the Books-a-Million and enjoyed a warm reception by Jacquie, their Regional community Relations Specialist. They'd gone all out to make sure someone showed up, making color posters and buying spots on local TV and radio.

We spoke a bit, signed some books, met friends new and old. It was nice. I liked being surrounded by a million books, and seeing people reading and looking at books. It gave me hope that there will still be books for some time to come, all indications notwithstanding.

But the main attraction of the day was Clifford The Big Red Dog.

Liam was almost too old to hang with Clifford, but despite his tuff exterior he was quietly and genuinely excited.

Phoebe was a little too old to want to meet Clifford. Make that a lot too old. Does she look like her mom is forcing her to pose for the picture? She threatened me roundly about posting this picture. We'll see if I can sweet-talk her into it. She's been known to go in and edit my posts after they're up…
I'm a lot too old to pose with Clifford, but at least he still looks like a Big Red Dog next to the Zick, all 5'5" of me. Hey! I'm taller than Clifford! And he's Big! Does that make me tall? Ooh, I wanna be by Miss Phoebe Thompson

Bill of the Birds, on the other hand, rendered Clifford a Medium-Sized Red Dog. He is tall. Times like this make all the head bumping worth it, huh, B?


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