The dear, sweet Martinez lady who looked after my kids when they were young was what marketers would call a plus-size.
She always happily told the children she wasnt fat; she was fluffy.
A pre-teen boy recently browsing the Wal-Mart video game case fit that description. His untucked shirt adorned with flames on the hem gave him the appearance of a roasting marshmallow. It was a comical contrast as he affected an air of casual disinterest aimed at impressing his younger companion.
Played it, played it, played it, definitely played it, played it, played it, he monotonously intoned, his stubby fingertips languidly slapping the glass case in front of each electronic game cartridge for emphasis,
Hey, Im no Jack LaLane. But this kid was a walking tub of goo, like Jell-O with pants, and it was hard to suppress the urge to suggest to him that he try eating vegetables, or perhaps playing outdoors (Actual reality! a tongue-in-cheek Nickelo-deon fitness campaign once exclaimed), instead of vegging out with a Twinky and a video-game controller.
At the very least, little Mr. Future Heart Disease ought to check out a book every now and then.
While books may not do much for muscle tone and cardiac health, at least readers arent bombarding their brains with flashing images of car chases and gore. They may even - gasp! - learn something.
What they read is important, too. Naturally, kids are under pressure to read what everybody else is reading. Thats no different from adults, many of whom base their reading choices on the bestseller lists - which are determined by how many people are reading any given book - or on Oprahs List, determined by whatever sappy girly stuff the usually-fluffy talk show host fawns over. (Did you ever notice, Andy Rooney might say, Oprah never recommends any good westerns or World War II novels?)
The Georgia Center for the Book has its own list. Devised a few months ago, it recommends 25 books every Georgian should read.
Confession time: If the books were in a glass case, Id be the embarrassing opposite of the tubby kid poking at the Wal-Mart game window: Havent read it, havent read it, definitely wont read it, havent read it.
Dedicated reader that I am, of the 25 books on the must-read list, Ive read a grand total of two: A Good Man is Hard to Find and Other Stories, by Flannery OCon-nor, because a literature class in college required it; and Uncle Remus: The Com-plete Tales by Joel Chandler Harris and Julius Lester.
I havent even read Terry Kays To Dance With the White Dog, even though Kay is an old family friend and my wife has an autographed copy (which she has read, along with Kays other books and six or seven on the Centers book list. And maybe even some on Oprahs List. Showoff.).
Well, other than wasting time on video games, theres no excuse not to read the books: Cheryl James, reference librarian at Gibbs Library, says We have 23 out of the 25, and the other two are on order. Best of all, checking out books from the library is free.
Today starts National Library Week, though Columbia County - hung over from Masters excitement - instead celebrates CSRA Library Week at the end of the month.
Capping that celebration, library officials on May 4 will unveil the architects plans for Columbia Countys long-awaited new main library. Construction is supposed to begin in late summer.
But Gibbs is open now, and those 25 recommended books - and thousands of others - are waiting. No batteries required.
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail comments to barrypaschal@ yahoo.com, or call 863-6165, extension 106.)
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