Feeling nostalgic today; must be getting old. I've been thinking about how I became exposed to some of the interests that have stayed with me since my youth and have shaped me as a person. And I've realized that a book store, namely the Community Newscenter at the Meridian Mall, was incredibly formative.
Maybe once a month, on a Sunday afternoon following church service (I was raised Methodist Christian and my mother, father, brother, and sister all still attend church) we would travel to Okemos, Michigan, for some dinner at the York Steak House
. Invariably, I ordered the grilled steak tips because it was less work if the steak arrived pre-cut. (Nowadays, I even prefer gound sirloin to steak of any kind because it's even easier when it's pre-chewed.) The steak tips came with caramelized onions, which I always gave to my father. (Nowadays, I like grilled onions, as with each passing day I become more and more like my father. This is a very good thing, since he's one of my favorite people, but there are some tastes I hope never to acquire, such as drinking straight buttermilk.) I gobbled up my dinner lickety-split because the faster I consumed my food, the more time I had before the more measured members of my family were finished. And I spent that precious time in one of two places. If I had no money, I would bum two or three quarters from my dad and head to Aladdin's Castle, the mall's video game arcade (Black Knight pinball
and Tail Gunner
were favorites). But if I had accumulated a few dollars over the previous month, I would head down to the bookstore.
If memory serves, the Community Newscenter at the Meridian Mall was in the same location as Schuler's is now. Ah, many, many fond memories of Community Newscenter on Sunday afternoons. The bargain tables full of beautiful coffee table books with big red sale stickers on their covers. Furtive glances at the skin rags on the top shelf of the magazine rack. And the eye-widening wonders of the glorious gaming corner. The importance of that place in my youth cannot be overestimated, for there I purchased my first RPG (Tunnels & Trolls
), first adventure board game (Barbarian Prince
), my first graphic novel (Ulysses
, which I nervously bought with entirely Canadian change), and even my first novel (well, collection of short stories, Untouched by Human Hands by Robert Sheckley
So to whomever might have been the managers and product buyers at that long-gone haven of my youth, I give you my gratitude and my thanks.