Seasoned Lightly is on hiatus until after the first of the year when Anne Michael, who is taking a break, will return to BiblioBuffet. In the meantime, we invite you to revisit some of her early pieces.
Some people in the world are purists. I’m sure you have at least one of them in your life. One either finds them fascinating in a kind of scientifically curious way or one finds them to be a major pain in the butt. You know the kind of people I’m talking about. They can make you uncomfortable in the same way that weird uncle you invite to birthdays and reunions “because he’s family” makes you feel.
Food purists are those who wouldn’t dream of eating bread not baked in their own kitchens or who never eat a canned pasta sauce because it is considered blasphemy. Enjoy a hotdog? Never! Use herbs from a jar purchased from the dollar store? No way! Others will eat only “organically” grown food, no matter how exorbitant the cost. They’re also the ones who feel the apparent need to critique everything at a dinner party or club luncheon.
Wine purists are those who make a huge production of sniffing corks and swishing wine in their mouths the way I do mouthwash before they pronounce the wine fit to drink. Heaven forbid they come to your house and see the cardboard box of wine on your counter! The lectures will start and continue for 30 minutes on the horrors of said wine or until the canapés distract them.
Musical purists think jazz or classical music is the only kind of music to which one should listen, and they have absolutely no regard for the charms of country music, the richness of rhythm and blues or the creativity and energy of rock ‘n roll. Those musical purists or elitists, you could call them, have been known to look at another who did not share their tastes the same way they would look at a dog turd sitting on the front porch.
I tend to look at these kinds of people with a sort of amused interest. I don’t subscribe to their belief systems. My beliefs tend to be rather simple. Does food taste good, does music sound good and, the most important part, can I afford it? If I have lots of free time and the energy to do it, I’m not averse to baking some bread or having a pot of fresh spaghetti sauce simmering deliciously on the stove all day. I’m flexible that way. The world seems big enough for all of us, if you know what I mean.
However, the people who perplex me the most in their search for the purity are readers. I’m not talking about just anyone who reads, but those people who believe only one type book, genre or type of literature is the only one that should be read.
My oldest son, Rick, was born developmentally delayed and as a result, he struggled through school. He was decent at math since it wasn’t as complicated as the art of reading. Ten basic numbers and four ways of dealing with them was comprehensible. Reading however was as challenging for him as building a house by myself would be for me. He would frustrate his teachers with his lack of comprehension and end up in tears because he felt stupid. For those of you who suffered with that kind of nightmare growing up, have or had a child who struggled with similar problems, you’ll understand exactly what he (and I, as his mother) dealt with.
As you might imagine opinions flowed from all corners, friends, family, teachers; guidance counselors all had suggestions, ideas or “the cure.” The ideas ranged from having my boy read only from the bible, find a McGuffie Reader, read the newspaper, encyclopedias, poetry, or age-appropriate books like biographies or sports.
Bless Rick’s heart, he tried. There was nothing that grabbed his brain until his best friend, Richie, came over to show Rick the comic books he had rescued from the neighbor’s trash. He left a half dozen of the purloined comics when he went home. It took Rick the better part of that summer vacation to read his way through those comic books, but the lights went on in my son’s head and reading took on a new meaning. The exciting action pictures of Spiderman, Archie and Jughead and Batman doing good things aided in the meanings of the words. As you might imagine, all the reading purists in my life had opined, ad nauseum, about the dangers of such reading material. But from that summer on, Rick read comic books whenever possible and as much as possible. He read voraciously. To my way of thinking, it was a good thing, a very good thing, because from those comic books he went on to read cereal boxes and the newspaper and endeavored to enjoy the required reading in school.
Sometime after graduating high school, developmental delays didn’t matter any more as he does work that he enjoys. Reading was a triumph. He reads voraciously, and he reads anything and everything. His seven-year-old nephew, Jason, couldn’t get the knack of reading. Remembering what it was like for him, Rick let the friends and family pundits say what they wanted. Because Jason adores television, Rick taught the boy to read using the close captioning system. Unorthodox, maybe, but it worked because at eight Jason reads comfortably and happily.
My son has adopted a philosophy similar to mine when it comes to reading. It doesn’t matter how person learns to read, just as long as they do. It’s a skill no person can do without. If there are reading purists in your life giving you a hard way to go because of what you read or not, ignore them and just read. As a matter of fact, whether it is wine, food, race cars, music or books, enjoy it the way you want. Living has a short shelf life. That’s my philosophy, and I’m sticking to it.
You expected Aristotle, maybe?
At age 10, Anne realized she was never going to get to be Miss America since reading a book was not an acceptable talent. So she went on to get a job and raise a family. Along the way, she fixed meals, picked up toys, helped with homework, and collected a drawer full of rejection slips for her “great American novel.” It was not all bad, however, since she ended up wallpapering a closet with them. She currently designs and creates greeting cards for her tiny company, The Frog Prints, LLC, and also works full-time as a Training Specialist. Anne is currently tethered to reality by a loving spouse, two dogs, one cat and the occasional hurricane that blows through Florida, although falling headlong and happily into a book is still her favorite “talent.” Contact Anne.