Like a lot of guys who have crossed the threshold of 45, I have seen some disturbing changes in the ol’ JAG. First of all, when I crawl into bed and grab my current read after an evening of sitting at the computer, I find it takes a minute or so for my eyes to focus.
The other day, I rode my bike to the Post Office. When I finally made it up the hill back to my garage, I thought my heart was going to pound itself free from my rib cage. “Hmmm,” I wheezed, “This never happened before...must be getting older.”
Well, this led to actually noticing the scale that occupies a space on the bathroom floor. I have had the scale for years—I think my folks gave it to me as a wedding present (they have never been too supportive of any of my marriages!). I don’t remember ever actually using it, but since I grew up with a scale in the bathroom, it seemed appropriate that I have one as well.
I stepped onto it, confident that it would register at 145lbs—the weight that I knew was constant since I was a cross country running senior in high school. The dial spun past 145...way past. It finally settled at 168. Funny, when I first realized what was happening, I was quick to blame my failing eyes...that can’t be right. So I retrieved my glasses and stepped back on the scale. 168lbs.
Deep in thought, I stumbled to the kitchen. Peering into the fridge, I asked myself, “How could this possibly have happened?” I demanded, “I have ALWAYS weighed 145lbs.” Settling onto the couch with a couple of popsicles, I decided I was going to get to the bottom of this quandary.
THE WEIGHT OF WORDS
By the time I popped the wrapper on Popsicle number two, a light bulb popped in my brain—as I have grown older, I have found that I have had to eat a WHOLE LOT of my words. The most recent had just been this past weekend.
Occasionally, my esteemed colleague and antique guru Harry Rinker calls to interview me for his syndicated radio program, “Whatcha Got?” I suspect that he schedules me when someone who really has something to say about the hobby of collecting suddenly cancels, but I have never asked. I just accept the compliment of being invited.
During the Sunday morning interview a few weeks ago, I heard myself saying, “Some militaria can be a good commodity in these economic turbulent times (I was quite proud of how brilliant I sounded)”
“But John,” Harry politely interjected, “The number one reason for buying any piece has to be that the person genuinely likes the item and has no expectation of investment potential.” Immediately, I tasted the bitterness of my own words. Not only have I preached for years that collectors are lousy investors (they LOVE to buy, but HATE to sell), I have written in three military price guides that I have authored: “Buy the items because you like them...don’t pretend that they are your ‘investment fund’”. Because I have spoken and written this idea many times, I am sure some of my weight gain has resulted from that Sunday morning serving of my own words.
Digesting that heavy plate of humility should have been enough for a while, but the following weekend I went right back for another serving. A few months prior, I received an e-mail notice of a new military vehicle show that was going to take place in nearby Cape Girardeau. I marked my calendar. On the appointed Sunday, I drove to the park where the announcement indicated the gathering of old MVs would meet, and found no one. Confused, I checked the email on my Blackberry. I had the right place and the right time. Now I just got mad. How dare they send me a personal invitation and then not have anything show up for the show? I called my buddy and fellow editor, David Doyle to grouse about it.
David has the class of a Southern plantation owner but I could detect just a glimmer of glee spiced with a dash of sarcasm when he served me the appetizer, “John, what does it say at the top of the calendar in your magazines?” I recognized the flavor of my own words, “ATTENTION! CONFIRM all information with show promoter before traveling. The time, dates, and/or location may have changed!”
And finally, just yesterday, I recognized that I was eating my own words again as I typed a reply to a potential overseas author. After years and years professing that 35mm slides were the pinnacle of photography and anyone who really wanted to contribute images to be considered for the cover of the magazine or inclusion in the calendar should only submit slides, I typed something new. I explained that I no longer considered slides or prints for publication, but rather, only high-resolution digital images. I realize I was probably the last guy to admit that digital photography has overtaken all previous formats (though I still hold dear the belief that the daguerreotype is the only “true” mirror image of our world), but that doesn’t hide the fact that I have a whole buffet of words to eat. I used to be pretty adamant when it came to proper photo formats submitted for publication (I used the term “adamant” because I thought it might be easier to digest than “arrogant”).
Over the span of just two popsicles, I was able to recall three examples of recent word-eating. This had to be the cause of weight gain. But what to do?
My dad has always had the same suggestion for anyone who blathers on about dieting. Perhaps I will finally consider his elderly wisdom: “Just keep your big mouth closed!”
Keep finding the good stuff,
Editor, Military Trader and Military Vehicles