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MACHO MADNESS Biker Bars, Books & Debbie Macomber
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Ever have one of those moments where you find yourself someplace you really don't belong? Where conversation stops, the band quits playing, and others look at you as if you are an alien life form that has descended into their midst?

I use to have many of these moments in my prior career as a police officer. Walking into a biker bar, for example, with a couple of other uniformed officers would always result in this reaction. Being a cop meant living in a fishbowl, which is why I have rarely suffered stage fright or have been bothered by what others think of me.

I recalled this a couple weeks ago when I had another one of those biker bar moments. But this time it was ladies my age - who seemed to have this weird interest in knitting - who were staring me down.

I'll explain.

My wife, Donnelle, and I were at the Borders Books store in Modesto, and Donnelle was looking for a Mother's Day gift for her mom. Donnelle discovered one of her mother's favorite authors, Debbie Macomber, was going to conduct a book signing at the store for her new novel a few days later. She purchased the book, "Hannah's List," to give to her mom and we decided we would surprise her by taking her to the book signing.

At least 200 people were expected for the event, so I told Donnelle I would arrive early from work to save her and her mom a couple spots.

I arrived over an hour early, and immediately realized I should have shown up at least an hour earlier. There were about 30 folding chairs set up, but most were already occupied.

I spied one single chair in the middle, and quickly made my way to it. Sitting down and breathing a sigh of relief that I had at least snagged a chair for my mother-in-law, I took stock and had a look around.

And realized I was the only male present.

Conversation between the women had essentially stopped, and there were a number of curious glances my way. It wasn't a biker bar, but it was close.

Being me, I responded.

"This where the war books are being signed?" I asked the group.

I laughed, the women laughed, and the wisecracks began.

"Don't complain," a woman sitting in the row in front of me pointed out. "You would have loved this in high school."

I asked about the knitting; apparently, Debbie Macomber features knitting in her books, and has a lot of fans.

I'm still confused by this.

Sitting next to me were Karla Getz and her mom, Jackie Applequist, both of Modesto. Jackie was a 22-year employee of Hershey's in Oakdale who retired a few years ago, and still receives The Leader each week. She had tagged along to the book signing to keep Karla company, and we chatted about Oakdale and the paper.

"This will make a good column," I pointed out to them.

Right around this time Donnelle and my mother-in-law, Marilyn, arrived.

Donnelle took in the scene, and saw that I was the only guy in the audience.

"Are you going to get a column out of this?" she asked.

She sure has me pegged.

She then saw I was talking with Karla and Jackie.

"Be careful what you say to him, it will end up in his column," Donnelle warned them with a smile.

She knows me all too well.

After I gave up my hard won seat I fled to the history section of the store.

"Is he coming back?" I heard one of the women ask Donnelle as I was walking away.

"I don't think so," I heard her reply. "He went to get his man on."

Actually, pegged doesn't even begin to describe it.

Later, I noticed well over 200 people, just about all women, had shown up for the book signing. And I saw that Debbie Macomber is a very nice person who adores her fans.

If only she would write a good history book...

Craig Macho is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. He may be reached at or by calling 847-3021.