A few years ago, I overheard someone stating his view on books. “Oh, we don’t have books in our house. We don’t read.” I didn’t faint, but my heart rate did drop to a dangerous level that would make a pricey surgeon call her local Mercedes dealership to check out the lease rates. “No books? None?” I couldn’t imagine this kind of house. What would they put on their bookcases? Clown figurines? Pictures of cats? Maybe they don’t even own bookcases! I really couldn’t make sense of this statement. No books? Why would you even state that in public? You might as well tell us that you wear unwashed underwear or that you eat cereal off the floor. No books? No way!
My family is passionate about books, and we have that passion on display. We have bookcases in every major room in the house, not to mention a few minor rooms. My dad made most of our bookcases — we’re that serious. We live and breathe books and we store them where ever we can find space. And space is at a premium in our house, thanks to those books.
You would think we live in a library, and that’s not a bad observation since Jan was once a librarian and we are both active writers. Books are our passion. You can see that everywhere you look. So when I heard of someone who didn’t share that passion my first reaction was that he was just uninformed and ignorant. And that’s when I learned something about myself. I learned that I can appear just as odd to others, if we talk about sports.
I guess I’ll have to admit it, but I am not a sports fan. My view of Hell is Satan wearing short pants and a whistle, telling all the poor damned souls to do “ten more laps around the blacktop.” I hate the entire world of grass fields, locker rooms, sweat, and spit. And you can tell that by looking in my house. You won’t find any balls anywhere. We don’t have a closet full of footballs, or a bin of baseballs, or a tub of basketballs. We treat balls like that guy treats books: “Oh, we don’t have balls in our house. We don’t bounce.” Sports nuts think I’m pathetic. Their houses are jammed full of balls.
They have golf balls in their pantries, soccer balls in their easy chairs, and bowling balls in their trunks. “No balls? None?” I can’t imagine this kind of house. What would they put in their duffel bags? Clown figurines? Pictures of cats? Maybe they don’t even own duffel bags!” Touché. And the shoe is suddenly on the other foot, only it’s not a shoe with cleats. No. It would never be a shoe with cleats around here.
And this is how I learned that we aren’t all the same. I like books. You like balls. That’s fine. It’s America and we can each have our own passions. I can invest in bookcases; you can invest in air pumps and those little needles you use to inflate basketballs. And we can live in harmony, unlike in those countries that mandate golf ball ownership or force the citizens to read science fiction. Passion is what it is. It can be applied to books or balls. I guess you can even be passionate about clown figurines, but that’s going too far — in my opinion — sort of like eating cereal off the floor.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.