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Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Road Trip!

This afternoon, R and I drove up to Killeen (home of Ft. Hood). Gen. Tommy Franks was at a bookstore there signing copies of his new book, American Soldier. Before I talk about the trip itself, I'll get the gushy stuff out of the way. Gen. Franks is a wonderful, nice, humble, gracious gentleman. It was an honor and privilege to shake his hand today.

OK, on to my story of our "adventure." I called the bookstore last week to get the details. I was told that we could not bring in books purchased outside their store, that people will start lining up several hours before the scheduled start time, that the line would be outside (but we could bring chairs, coolers, etc), that Gen. Franks would be signing one book per person, and that he would not be personalizing the books.

So, the booksigning is supposed to start at 6pm, and it's an hour's drive from here. Plus, the line will be forming several hours beforehand. Hmmm... I picked up R at 2pm, and away we went.

Got there a little after 3pm. No one was in line outside, so we went inside to check it out. Once inside, we were told, no, the line will be inside (an elderly couple had already staked out the head of the line); no, we couldn't bring in our chairs, etc.; and we couldn't bring in our purses. (Huh?) So, we buy our one copy each of the book and go back to the van to wait for more people to show. Finally, at 4pm, we head in, and we're numbers 11 and 12 in line. Not bad.

So, there are 9 chairs set up for the beginning of the line. R and I just plop down on the floor- we don't care. A little old lady walked up to the "gentleman" in the last seat to ask him where he got the chair. "Well, this is the last one here, but you might be able to just grab one from the media area and move it over." At this point, the "gentleman's" wife gets up off the floor and gets a chair for the woman, takesit to her place in line, and sets it up for her. I was not a happy camper. I wanted to tell him to get up off his butt and give her that chair like a civilized gentleman should. I didn't because his wife was so quick to react. (In his defense, he did get up and let his wife sit down later).

So, R & I are sitting there, chatting up a storm (anyone's ears itching? Yeah, we were probably talking about you!) and we notice that some people have more than one book. How can this be? Well, he would sign more than one book per person. So, I head up to the checkout to buy more books. Get up to Register 5 just to be told that I was SUPPOSED to buy the books at #1 or #2. Whatever!

Before the signing starts, a guy comes over the PA to say that, if you want to get back in line after Gen. Franks has signed your book, then he'll personalize it. By this time, there were about 500 people in line. No matter how cool "Best wishes, Beth! Love, Tommy" might have sounded (or absurd for that matter) we decided it just wasn't worth the extra hour and a half.

Gen. Franks arrives. Applause.... He talks to the media- no idea what he said. Then he started signing books. They had it set up so you're up at the table with him without a bunch of people crowded around. That was nice. And, like I said, he's a very nice man.

Within about 10 minutes of when he started signing books, we were headed out the door. Back into the van with the cooler full of munchies that we didn't get around to eating. Head back to I-35 South. Stopped in Georgetown for some yummy German food. Dropped R off at home, and got home in time to give Thing 1 and Thing 2 hugs good night. Nice ending to a fun trip.

You know, I love spending time with my family, and so does R. But, there's just something special about spending time with a friend. It's tiring and invigorating all at the same time. We talked almost the entire time about a wide variety of topics, and we didn't run out of things to say. It's great to have someone to share my political/news junkie-ness with. Hubby would have gladly gone with me if I had asked him to, but I think he was grateful when I said that R and I were doing this road trip. (When I got home, he said, "Now, who is this guy?" He's not a news junkie, and I almost always like that about him- he's a good balance to my 24/7 need for information.)

Living in the Liberal Haven of Austin ™, we don't get many opportunities to shake hands with some of the Great Ones. That's ok... as long as we can Road Trip!

PS- did anyone notice the handy dandy new HTML thingie I learned to do? It isn't much, but it's one more thing I didn't know how to do yesterday!

It was a great time. I too enjoyed getting to meet such an awesome man. But the best part was the "doing life" with someone who helps make it worth doing! R

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