Here’s a little summer story that involves frozen custard, blue skies and trees, a favorite used bookstore… and Bruce Campbell.
With summer free time and travel budgets becoming a little slimmer, we opted this year to try for simple day trips to nearby places. About a week ago, the stars aligned on one fine Friday. We were able to take one. No one had work, school, or obligations. Nothing needed fixing in the house (for once), and we had some money in the bank.
The goal was a stop by a favorite used bookstore, Coas, in Las Cruces, about a half-hour away. Hit the bookstore, zip next door to the retro arcade and play some old-school video games, then have dinner, and swing by the local frozen custard stand before heading home on the scenic back road. My oldest even drove back, which is something she loves doing now that she can.
I know, it sounds underwhelming, but for us, it was a much-needed break.
You’re probably asking, where does Mr. Campbell feature into things?
See, I’ve been into Bruce Campbell for some time (I even got excited when I first saw Johnny Barracuda in Danger Girl), but it seems he is everywhere lately. I don’t know if it is the recent Dr. Strange film, the new Evil Dead-based video game, or his upcoming Sgt. Rock comic, but I’ve started re-igniting my interest in his work. Recently, I’ve been calling Ash Williams my “spirit animal”—which is another story for another time—and I have really gotten back into all things Groovy Bruce. He’s become my current happy place.
While the family and I were wandering around the wonderful mazes of used bookstore shelves—we had all gone in our own directions—I found myself near the biography section.
Normally, I don’t like celebrity memoirs. (I tend to find them creepy and pretentious.) However, I love books to the point where some say I might have a bit of a problem. I would call it a passion. As such, I had been looking for an inexpensive version of How to Make Love the Bruce Campbell Way: A Novel.
This Bruce Campbell book, which is as much of an autobiography as My Name Is Bruce was a biopic, was never really something I could find in my neck of the woods. Well, there among the shelves, I thought “I wonder…” and I found two Campbell books, the bio Leading With My Chin and, to my surprise, How to Make Love the Bruce Campbell Way.
To add to the surprise, the book was signed… albeit to someone named “Chris.” I can only assume that person has passed on or had all their possessions seized and given to charity because what kind of ghoul would give up a signed Groovy Bruce book? I’m not too proud to say my heart did a little flip at seeing this, but that signature brought the book’s cost to $30. I quietly and regretfully put it back on the shelf.
I was just too embarrassed to tell my husband I had not only actively sought out a Bruce Campbell book, but I really wanted to purchase this signed title. We love picking on each other, and my husband would have used this fangirling as fodder for weeks to come. I don’t blame him. I would have done the same.
Ergo, I tried to pretend I never saw it. That Sunday evening when my husband and I were playing Evil Dead: The Game and engaged in some serious late-night gamer trash-talking. My oldest had come in just as I mentioned I saw a signed Bruce Campbell on our Friday trip but didn’t get it. I thought for sure my husband would say I was smart in saving the 30 bucks, but both he and my daughter set in on me as if I left buried treasure for the next explorer to find.
My daughter said she would have bought that if it was one of her favorites, and my husband revealed he had seen my eBay search history, and knew I really, really wanted this book.
Turns out, $30 was actually a pretty good deal for a like-new signed book, so my daughter declared first thing in the morning, that we’re making a second road trip. They were dragging me back to get the book… and stopping for more custard on the way back.
I told them the book isn’t going anywhere, but they reminded me of the other times I waited for our purchase of something only to find it gone. Someone else is getting that Bruce Campbell book and you’ll be sorry.
Okay, so I guess it was off to bed to ready for another road trip. The next morning, my oldest, who normally keeps vampire hours, was up and ready to go, along with my youngest who kept asking, “now, why are we going?” It really didn’t matter to her, as bonus custard was part of the deal. That’s no small thing because I need to mention this place has some of the best frozen custard, well worth the brain freeze.
We stopped at a truck stop for very unhealthy road snacks and jetted off under the beautiful pecan groves of Highway 28 in southern New Mexico. We made it to Coas right as it opened, and the whole family followed me as I wove through the store back to the very spot I left the book.
They actually cheered as I found it on the shelf, and opened it up the reveal the actual signature and a little business card showing that Chris (who I now refer to as “Chris the Primitive Screwhead” for parting with this book) was 155th in line to “make love the Bruce Campbell way.”
My treasure was acquired, and as we checked out they reminded me I had member points still at the store. This dropped the price by $10, and it would only cost me $20 to Make Love the Bruce Campbell Way.
Next stop, the custard stand and a drive home, with fresh air, beautiful scenery, road music, and Groovy Bruce on my dashboard. We had turned a simple off-hand comment on wanting a book into a mini-quest. A reason to get out once again and turn a regular lazy Monday morning into a special occasion.
It was as I was well into my mass of vanilla and caramel, and wishing Mr. Campbell hadn’t used sans serif font for his text, it hit me how these little ventures are getting more and more important to a family with one kid about to be 13 and another soon to be out on her own.
As our kids are getting older, everyone gets busier, and if the past two years have taught us anything it’s that there are a million things that could happen to squash big plans.
This is why we have to grab the opportunities when we can to turn little things into special things and the small errands into big adventures.
I realize everything I am saying is counter to the argument of not making “mountains out of molehills,” but mountains are much more fun to climb and explore.
Every day, as my world gets a little weirder and the lurking uncertainly of the future continues to chew at my consciousness, I’m just thankful my family is still there to follow me down random rabbit holes and over misty mountains for the quest of the day…
Even if that quest is a snarky, quasi-autobiographical fiction of insanely clever lunacy only Groovy Bruce can deliver.