Memory lane goes right past Mrs. Fields and Hot Topic.


I moved to Southern California after I graduated from Boise High School in the mid-'80s (please don't do the math) and found a job in a mall in Anaheim. I worked at a place called La Petite Boulangerie, little bakery/coffee joints in malls across the state that sold fresh-baked croissants, egg bread, muffins, Italian bread, etc.

The assistant manager of the B. Dalton Bookseller in the mall was a little guy named Robb, who used to stop by for a small black coffee and a bran muffin every morning (please don't do the math). Eventually, he asked me if I wanted a job at the bookstore. Hell yes, I wanted a job at the bookstore.

I loved that job. Bookstores are kind of the ultimate equalizers; every type of person reads. I helped people of every design and demographic find travel guides, self-help guides, the next installment in a romance series, explorations into the occult, a good mystery to curl up with, books for their kids or grandkids, classics, Cliff's Notes, comic books, calendars ...

I met author Dean Koontz (who was shorter than I had imagined) and actor Michael Berryman. Both were big deals for me. I'd been reading Koontz right alongside King for years and Berryman—who had roles in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, The Hills Have Eyes I and II, Rob Zombie's Devil's Rejects, and some of the Star Trekfilms and series—played a mutant biker in what was my favorite movie at the time, Weird Science. I still have his autograph somewhere.

Last night, I went to Boise Towne Square Mall. I watched people old and young, fat and thin, tall and short walking the mall's halls. And for the hour or so that I was there, I was happy to fall in with them ... especially when they headed toward the bookstore.