Last Thursday was a momentous occasion. John Scalzi, for the very first time, visited both Boise and Idaho. He is an Idaho virgin no longer.

To celebrate, he stopped by the Boise Public Library and held a reading (sponsored by Rediscovered Books, which does not – at the moment – have the space to hold such an event). Personally, I had never been to the William F. Hayes Memorial Auditorium, and so, in that both Scalzi and I were breaking new ground.

Since I have a Boise State parking permit, my husband and I chose to park there and then walk to the library, considering that there may be a crowded lot at the library. As we crossed the wooden bridge into the Anne Frank Memorial, I spotted Scalzi entering the library with an escort – identification certainty of 95%. I mean, I’ve never met him before, but he posts a lot of pictures of himself online.

We entered the library, and I immediately identified the location of the restrooms, because I need to know these things. Then we walked into the auditorium.

It’s not really an auditorium. It doesn’t fit my conception of one at any rate, which would have to contain, minimally, a stage and tiered seating. This is a meeting room. A classroom even. Chairs were lined up facing a table and podium, and behind the chairs was a long table covered in books. (All by John Scalzi – conspiracy or coincidence?)

I chose a seat near the front. Not the front row itself, mostly because it was occupied, but also because you never know which people might spit when they talk.

My husband and I settled in to wait, observing the room filling, noticing that Scalzi was chatting with the event organizers in the rear, and giggling a bit that the couple behind us did not recognize him, despite having walked right by him, close enough, because of the dimensions of the entrance, to have touched him in passing.

When it was time for the reading to begin, Scalzi was introduced to applause and then proceeded to outline the evening’s events. He would be reading from an upcoming work, and then from some humor pieces and from his blog, Whatever.

I would love to explain in explicit detail the content of the reading from his upcoming urban fantasy, but I’m under strict orders to simply lord the fact that I know and you don’t over you. Therefore, I must sum up that experience up as follows: I enjoyed listening to Scalzi read aloud from his work. His reading voice is not monotonous or boring, and it’s neat to hear character inflections from the author himself. This novella sound really neat, and you should be jealous of me. And my husband. And everyone else who managed to attend one of Scalzi’s many tour stops. Still a limited club!

The next two pieces he read for us were from an ancient website known as America Online. I am, in fact, old enough to have had an AOL account. Just – I was 13 when we got it. The pieces were from when he wrote for their humor section, which I’m pretty sure I never read, being more interested in chat at that age (I got my reading fixes from books – made of paper!). They were topical for the time of year, focused on back to school, one aimed at gradeschoolers and one at parents. Both were amusing.

Scalzi then read from a relatively recent blog entry from Whatever, “Standard Responses to Online Stupidity.” I, being a regular reader of the blog, had already read that particular entry. However, again, the experience of having it read aloud by the author was quite enjoyable. For some reason, especially the single swear word in number 8.

Once the reading portion of the evening was concluded, the signing portion could begin. There were a few rules, reasonable limits on the number of books that could be signed at a time (if you wanted more, you were free to go back to the end of the line). Photographs were welcome, and Rediscovered Books even offered a photographer. We snaked our line through the chairs, so as not to trail out into the library, and I got in line to wait while my husband walked over to where he could take the picture when I got there.

I chatted a bit with other people in line, commiserating with one that the event had a distinct lack of ukulele and yodeling (to which Scalzi replied, “I heard that!”). The wait was not too long, since I had been sitting near the front, and there, I finally asked the question that had been burning inside me since July 22nd, when my husband and I went to see a movie for our meet-iversary and I saw that our theater offered Oreo churros.

“Oreo churros – abomination or awesome?” I said. I had to repeat it, partially because he was surprised I think (and partially because I was nervous and speaking softly).

The face of a man who likes churros. 

Scalzi proceeded to give me much more than I expected. Not a simple yes or no, but an enthusiastic explanation which boiled down to the cinnamon churro flavor being an intrinsic part of its churro-ness for him. Nothing against others who like Oreo churros, but for him they are not properly partaking of churro-ness – although a churro flavored Oreo would be acceptable.

This question gave him something to use for personalizing my book, and I now am the proud owner of a copy of Old Man’s War inscribed thusly:

I then got my picture taken with him, because I could. All in all, a nice way to spend a Thursday evening.

Before next time, I will teach Ambrose how to use the zoom.

Or maybe I was told to write that. You wouldn’t know. After all, you weren’t there… or were you?

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