If I liked whisky as much as I liked books, I would be a perpetual drunk. I can leave the intoxicants alone, but I can’t resist a stack of books. Some folks like to hang out in bars. Bookstores are my favorite haunt. Occasionally, I’ll click on Amazon and download a book or two onto my Kindle or iPad. But what I really prefer is standing in a bookstore, surrounded by thousands of books. Rarely do I leave empty-handed.
And if I’m in a used-book store, I’ll lug out an overloaded cardboard box. When I’m in Franklin, N.C., I have to discipline myself when visiting the Macon County Friends of the Library Bookstore. At a buck or two apiece, you can get a hernia toting $40 worth of purchases to the car.
The other day, I reached for one of my dollar books. It was like finding an old friend. I never met the late Andy Rooney, but I felt he knew me. As I listened to his pithy commentaries, tagged on the end of CBS’s “60 Minutes,” I was spooked. How could he read my mind, and then tattle to millions? There were two distinct differences, however. He would articulate his musings far more cleverly. And he wouldn’t have swapped his paycheck for mine.
Still, I juggled my schedule to make sure I didn’t miss Sunday night’s “A Few Minutes with Andy Rooney.” I could see the mischief in his eyes beneath those hedgerows of eyebrows. Andy came across as a grumpy, but lovable curmudgeon. I liked his zany wit, often punctuated with a zinger on the end.
That’s why I tore into the yellowed pages of Andy’s “Pieces of My Mind,” as if they were my first bag of hot—green—boiled peanuts of the season. A book of essays is like a tray of snacks by your favorite chair. You can munch at a leisurely pace, not fretting about interrupting the plot. I skipped around, picking the cashews out of Andy’s mixed bag of topics.
Andy’s “A Penny Saved is a Waste of Time,” is advice he forgot to give his kids before they flew the coop. Here’s a sampler:
• “There is a Santa Claus but he doesn’t always come.”
• “You aren’t the only one who doesn’t understand the situation in the Middle East.”
• “Go to bed. Whatever you’re staying up late for isn’t worth it.”
• “Money shouldn’t be saved for a rainy day. It should be saved and spent for a beautiful day.”
• “If nothing else works, take a hot shower.”
• “Try to be aware of how you are being.”
• “Keep the volume down on everything. It’s like salt. You can get used to less of it.”
• “It’s i before e except in the following words: “Neither leisure foreigner seized the weird height.”
• “Use profanity sparingly and don’t use any obscenities at all.”
• “Don’t keep saying, ‘I don’t know where time goes.’ It goes the same place it’s always gone and no one has ever known where that is.”
• “When you cross the street, look both ways…even on a one-way street.”
• “If you own something useless which you like, don’t throw it away just because someone keeps asking what you are keeping it for.”
I can hear you now, “Why do you keep buying all those books, when you have a Kindle and an iPad? That’s useless.”
Imagine how Andy would respond. The cranky curmudgeon might say, “I’ll tell you what’s useless—you poking your nose into what I like.”