The past few weeks have brought changes that were unimaginable just a decade ago, but before you start wondering if this is yet another column about the Confederate flag or same-sex marriage, let me stop you right there. Sure, those are big changes, and I was just as surprised by them as you were, but this column is about change on a more personal level. This is a story about changes that I'm going through. You see, I'm already married, so all this gay marriage stuff doesn't affect me except as an observer of U.S. law and the Supreme Court's activist approach to judicial rule. And the Confederate flag isn't something that affects me either. I don't own a Confederate flag, and my family members who did rally around the battle flag have long ago gone to Glory; God rest their Rebel souls. Nope. This column is about change that actually affects me. I know that's a quaint idea, but I've got too much going on in my life to stick my nose in new places right now.
The biggest change in my life is that I've actually started following sports. For those who know me, you might want to reach for a copy of Revelation to plan for the end of the world. I know it's one of those end-of-times signs, just like all the other things we're seeing, but I can explain how it happened. I bought a bicycle to start riding for my health, so naturally I started reading about bicycles and of course I had to buy bicycle clothing so I wouldn't look like a goober out riding around in a Confederate flag tank top. During all this intense bicycle preparation, I stumbled on the Tour de France race which is going on right now, and I started watching the broadcasts on vacation, where we have cable television. I guess it was too late to back out when I realized I was actually watching a sport, buying sporty clothing, and intentionally engaging in something that is considered a sport. I thought I was just going to burn some fat and a few bucks. I didn't realize I was being seduced into following teams, learning rules, and sneaking peeks at the television to see folks zipping around France in fancy helmets. Did I mention that I have a fancy helmet, and that I now own a pair of tight cycling shorts and a few of those fancy tight cycling shirts? No. I didn't mention that because I still can't believe it either. I still can't believe that I've changed my view on sports and that I'm actually enjoying something that was once a target of my mockery and derision. What a change!
I guess following sports is enough of a shock to my normal world, but there's more. All those cycling clothes — the shorts, the shirts, the gloves, the hats, the jackets – are made from synthetic fibers. As someone who wore polyester in the dark ages of 1976, I swore off ever owning anything synthetic again. And I was a good boy, wearing cotton and linen and only the barest minimum of nylon running clothes. At least, I was a good boy until a shopping trip where I bought more synthetic fiber in one week than I ever expected to buy in a lifetime. And the funny thing? These clothes are amazing. This isn't at all like the old double-knit polyester my leisure suit was made of. This material is smooth and soft, and doesn't itch at all. And once again, I'm confronted with a very personal change. I had once mocked synthetic fibers, and now I'm praising them. What is the world coming to?
If this isn't bad enough, I must confess one more change that's almost impossible to accept, yet it's true. Up until this year, I've made more fun of the French — the people and language and culture — than my 55 years would normally allow. The French were the easy target of my epic mockery. But now, with the Tour, and a few other factors influencing my decision, I've decided that I actually like the French language and culture. I'm holding off on a decision about actual Parisians and this one airline clerk from Nice, but I've generally recanted and now consider my prior mockery to be ill informed. Once again, I've found myself shocked by how much I've changed and how much I now embrace that which I once hated.
You can now see why I don't have time to worry about a rainbow flag here and a battle flag there. I've got my own issues with personal change. Where I was once a mocker, I am now a fan. Where I once embraced unwavering hatred, I am now finding love and acceptance. And where I once owned a very clear view of what my world looked like, I've now learned to shut up and "roll with the changes," as the REO Speedwagon song says. And who owns a very clear view of anything today? I don't have a clue about reality anymore. Maybe this column isn't even about the French, sports, and synthetic clothes. Maybe it's actually a subtle commentary on coping with change in modern America — even change that makes no sense and defies everything we've ever believed. That would be a surprise twist, here at the end, wouldn't it? Well, given all the changes we've seen lately, I wouldn't be one bit surprised if that's exactly what this is. Nothing surprises me anymore, now that I'm a clueless, sports-following, synthetic-clothes-wearing, Francophile.
David McCoy is a lifetime resident of “The Glorious South” and a repeat winner of the Georgia Press Association's Joe Parham Trophy for his humor column, Pecan Pie for the Mind. David lives in Covington, Georgia but can often be found among the North Georgia mountains, depending on the weather and the availability of clean towels and fresh, hot coffee. He can be reached at email@example.com.