8:50 am Beloved calls me at work. “Did you know Chris Hadfield is being interviewed about two blocks from you right now?” I gasp and instinctively look out the window. He’s not floating outside my fourth-floor window, and I’m kind of relieved by that.
“No kidding?” I ask, and hatch a plan to meander casually past the Market Media Mall under cover of heading out for a cup of coffee.
“And he’ll be at Costco tonight signing his book!” Beloved continues.
“Costco?” I ask. “Seriously?”
And that’s how capers are ignited.
9:05 am I am outside the big plate glass windows of the Market Media Mall, resisting the urge to press my nose against the glass as I peer in, trying to catch a glimpse of Cmdr Hadfield. No such luck. I’ve never been inside this building, so am not sure if it is private or open to the public. I weigh my options and decide being charged with tresspassing on my coffee break will be exceedingly difficult to explain to my boss and slink back towards Starbucks.
12:20 pm I am standing in line at Indigo with a copy of Chris Hadfield’s book, An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth in my hand. I feel slightly guilty, because not only have I asked for this for Christmas, but when I mentioned I’d like it Tristan had immediately said, “Okay, I will get that for you!” At the time, I whacked him with my mitten and told him he was supposed to keep it a secret, and he looked at me with that expression that is increasingly common on their faces, the one I see often on their father’s face – mom is weird, but we love her anyway.
3:45 pm I pick the boys up at school and I am practically bursting with excitement as we pile into the car. “Who wants to go meet an astronaut at Costco?” I blurt. They look at me blankly, waiting for the punch line. “No, for real! Commander Hadfield is at Costco, do you want to go get him to sign a book for us?” You would think I would learn by now not to pose these escapades as options.
“Will it take long?” asks Simon, who has the stamina of a goldfish.
“Well, probably,” I admit. “There will be a lineup, I’m sure, but the sooner we get there the faster it will go!”
“I have homework to do,” Tristan says tentatively.
“What about dinner?” asks Simon.
“And I want to play Minecraft!” adds Lucas, who is always sure to make his opinion is counted.
I look at them, weighing the mature response (“Oh, okay, I thought you would love this but if you’re not keen, then I understand. Let’s go home.”) versus my using my mom-guilt powers for evil. I settle for a middle road: “How often in your life will you get to meet an astronaut in Costco? It will be an adventure! C’mon, let’s do it!”
They are, I must admit, less than jumping-up-and-down excited, but they’re curious and happy enough to appease me for the sake of an adventure, so we let the dog out for a pee, pack a wee bag of snacks, and drive down to Costco.
4:15 pm I have never seen the Costco parking lot this busy. Ever. Uh oh. We park at the Petsmart across the way and make our way in.
4:25 pm We find the line snaking down the aisle from the centre of the store where a little table has been set up with a small stack of Cmdr Hadfield’s books. “Hey, this isn’t so bad,” I tell the boys brightly as we walk down the aisle past 50 or so people. Then I get to the end of the aisle and see that the line snakes back down the next aisle – and back up the aisle after that, and another one after THAT, and then up the back wall of the store. We settle in to the end of the line, which snakes up and down FIVE aisles in front of us – and this a full half hour before the book signing even begins.
4:30 pm Lucas asks “How much longer?” for the first time.
4:30:30 pm Lucas asks “How much longer?” for the second time.
4:30:45 pm Lucas asks “How much longer?” for the third time.
4:45 pm We hear a small cheer from somewhere near the centre of the store. Either Cmdr Hadfield has arrived early or people are way too excited about finding a jar of olives the size of a human head.
5:02 pm We are out of snacks and juice boxes. I try reading aloud from Cmdr Hadfield’s book to pass the time, but the natives are too restless and the people standing around us seem less than appreciative of my spoiler efforts.
5:20 pm Reinforcements arrive! Beloved finds us and takes the boys over for a $2 hot dog dinner. Word is the line now snakes past the meat department.
5:31 pm Simon returns with a slice of 800 calorie cheese pizza for me, which the people in front of me eye covetously.
5:45 pm The orginal plan had been that Beloved arrive to take custody of Lucas and bring him home, as we had thought the line-up would be too long for him to endure and the chance to meet Cmdr Hadfield not something he would appreciate. This would also liberate Bella from her crate, in which she has been confined all day. However, Lucas decides he wants to stay and Simon decides he wants to go home. Tristan stoically endures any adventure I propose, as always.
5:46 pm Costco staff wander the line with a gigantic box of chocolate, appeasing the crowd. We’ve come about half way from our starting place to the front of the line. The end of the line is far from sight, possibly in Barrhaven.
5:51 pm Simon decides the wait may in fact be worth it and that he wants to stay. All five of us are in it for the long haul.
5:53 pm We are officially enumerated. Ours is the 528th book to be signed. I weep for Cmdr Hadfield, who is probably still as you read this sitting in Costco facing an endless line of weary autograph seekers.
6:02 pm We achieve the penultimate aisle, and the line moves steadily. While we are waiting we browse vacuums, shavers, stools and office chairs, and a $50 block of post-it notes. Seriously, who needs a $50 block of post-it notes?? We peer through the crockery at Cmdr Hadfield. He was once so far, up on the International Space Station, and now he’s SO CLOSE!!
6:19 pm As we make our final approach, I try to think of witty, engaging things to say to a man I so deeply admire. I consider various inscriptions I will request. I dicker with my camera settings, and all I can think of is “Don’t blow the photo. Seriously, do NOT blow this photo.”
6:28 pm At last, we are meeting Cmdr Hadfield. He shakes hands with the boys, scrawls his name on the book, and smiles at me. I say, with the wisdom of the lifelong wordsmith, “Wow, it is so great to meet you. Thank you, for – well, everything!” I’m sure I made a memorable impact on him with that, yes?
7:32 pm Back at home, after we walking the dog and taking a brief and unenthusiastic stab at a few of the things we should have been doing instead of stalking an astronaut in Costco, I tweet a copy of this photo to Tristan’s teacher, telling her he had a pretty good excuse for not doing his homework tonight. She agrees!
Worth every minute!!