Do you remember the first time you read your favorite book, or saw your favorite movie? Chances are you do. But do you remember the circumstances under which you fell upon your favorite anything? That might be a bit trickier. One of my all time top reads is a book by Dean Koontz called Odd Thomas. Some of you may be familiar with it, others might not. It’s about an unassuming hero who has been blessed, or cursed with the ability to see the dead. He’s made it his mission to help the dead with moving on to the other side.
Anyway, it’s a fun read; it’s full of adventure, wit, and great atmosphere. Not to mention, it’s one of the saddest books I’d ever read, which was made sadder by the fact that I didn’t think it was going to be sad, ya know? Anyway, there’s a line in that book; To see her again I will have the perseverance of a bulldog. From perseverance on I have tattooed on me. Yeah, safe to say this book holds a special place in my heart. And although the book itself is great, even if its sequels get a bit stale, the story of how I came across it is just as memorable.
It must have been around 2006 or 2007. I’m not sure when the book came out, but it was in paperback, so probably more than a year old by this time. My parents had just moved, I’d just dropped out of college for the first time, and I was living with my sister – scene is set. Through a friend, 17 year old me met a girl through a friend. Well, I use met loosely. We chatted online a few times. Anyway, it was one mild afternoon that we decided to meet up. She lived on one end of the city, I on the other, and so we picked Yorkdale Shopping Centre as mid point. It made sense, even if it was a gigantic pain in the arse to get there.
I hop on the bus and make the near two hour trip to the mall. By this time it’s getting a bit later, not super late, but I recall the sun setting, and here I am standing at our predesignated rendezvous point, at the bottom of the escalator that lead to the movie theater. I waited, and waited…and waited some more. Nothing. She was nowhere to be found. This was a time before cellphones were super common, and I was unemployed living in my sisters basement – so I didn’t have one. After about an hour, I realized the most horrifying thing that can happen to a teenage boy had just happened – I was stood up.
Little did I know this would become a recurring theme in my life. Until recently when I met my wife to be – but that’s a story for another time. So, I’d been at the mall for an hour, feeling a bit bummed and annoyed that I had made the trip to this mall, only for her to not show. What’s a boy to do? Go to the most comfortable place in the world: The horror section of Chapters (For my international friends, it’s a big Canadian book store). There I scoured the shelves, not looking for anything in particular, and then by pure and utter luck, my finger spined the column of a silver and black gradient book. I pulled it out and read the first few pages.
I was so mesmerized by what the pages held, I had to buy it, and so I did. I read it when I could, every time the bus parked under a street light I caught a peek, and then I got home. It couldn’t have been much later than 9 or 10 pm, but I ran right downstairs, flicked on the light, and hopped in bed. 6 hours later I looked at the clock and it was about 4 in the AM, and I was 3/4 through the book. It was magical. I finished it up the next day, and it’s been burned into my memory ever since.
Sometimes the story of finding the book is just as good as the book itself. Ahh, memories.