That’s About the Short of It

by Michael D. Brooks


“Whoa, Pop. Since when did you start reading books?”

“Since before you were born, smart-ass.”

“I don’t ever remember seeing you with a book in your hand the entire time I was growing up. A newspaper, yeah, but a book? Never. What’s up with that?”

“That’s because I was too busy making sure you were reading yours.”

“Uh, that was mom.”

“Well, I was behind her all the way.”

“I’m sure you were. So what gives? What made you finally pick up a book and read it?”

“Nothing.”

“So what’s up with the smoking jacket and the cat in your lap? You hate it when the cat sits in your lap.”

“No, I don’t.”

“Come on, Pop. And stop looking at me from over your glasses. Something had to make you want to read a book. You told me that you hated reading books when you were in school, but you never said why.”

“I never said I hated reading books when I was in school.”

“Don’t make me get mom.”

“Hard-ass.”

“Well?”

“That’s because I did hate reading books when I was in school.”

“Why?”

“Nuns.”

“Nuns?”

“Yeah, nuns.”

“What the heck do nuns have to do with you hating to read books?”

“Because back in those days any woman in a Habit was thrown into a classroom and told to teach. Too bad no one taught them how to make learning to read fun.”

“In the beginning I didn’t like reading books either.”

“Yeah, but you had teachers who made it fun for you.”

“But I had nuns just like you did.”

“You had new school nuns.”

“I had what?”

“You had new school nuns. I had old school nuns.”

“I’m sure you’re about to tell me what the difference is.”

“Isn’t it obvious?”

“No.”

“How much did I pay for your education?”

“Just pretend it wasn’t enough.”

“Do I have to spell it out for you?”

“Yes.”

“Look, by the time you got to school, they finally taught nuns how to make reading fun for kids. I wasn’t so lucky. Reading wasn’t fun. It was a chore. Something I had to do to pass my classes. So I swore that when I got out of school, I wasn’t going to read any books.”

“So then why are you reading a book now?”

“Because now it’s fun. Because now I’m reading something I want to read and not something I have to read. And I’m reading it at my own speed—slow.”

“But you could always read something you wanted to read, Pop.”

“I know. I just wasn’t motivated until now.”

“So what got you motivated? What? Cat got your tongue?”

“Don’t you have somewhere to go?”

“I just got here so I’ve got plenty of time. In fact, I’m going to sit in this comfy chair right here and wait until you tell me why.”

“You’re serious about sitting in that chair and forcing me to explain why I’m reading a book?”

“Yep. So what was it that got you interested in reading a book?

“I’ll get you for this.”

“Uh, sure you will, Pop? I’m waiting.”

“Uh, Oprah and Ellen.”

“What was that? I didn’t quite hear you. You said that too fast.”

“I said Oprah and Ellen.”

“What was that? Your voice got a little too low for me to hear.”

“I SAID OPRAH AND ELLEN. Alright?”

“No need to get testy. Geez. I didn’t know you liked to watch them, Pop. I thought you said that macho guys don’t watch girlie shows. Does mom know?”

“No. And I’d rather like to keep it that way. So if you tell your mother, I’ll sell your first-born.”

“Ooh. I’m quaking in my shoes. I’m really scared now.”

“Shut up, smart-ass.”

“Okay, okay. So what do Oprah and Ellen have to do with you wanting to read again anyway?”

“They were both talking about this new hotshot writer that writes these short stories that are fun to read and that anyone can read and enjoy them.”

“Well, it looks to me like they might be right—if you’re reading them.”

“Damn skippy they are. This guy writes stuff plain old folks like me can enjoy. Not like that stuffy highfalutin stuff you learn in school. And if Oprah and Ellen are talking him up, then he must be good. So I thought I’d give him a try.”

“Geez, Pop. How long have you been watching Oprah and Ellen? Do you watch The View, too?”

“Don’t go there, smart-ass.”

“Well, from the looks of things, I’d say they’re right?”

“You betcha.”

“So what makes this book so different, Pop?”

“It’s a bunch of short stories that I can read and not have to look for some damned hidden meanings and deep philosophical crap. I hate that. How come no one writes stories that you can just read and say wow that was a good story and not have to explain what the author meant?”

“I don’t know, Pop. Probably because all stories have some kind of a purpose or meaning.”

“Or people just believe there has to be one. It’s just nice to be able to read a story and come away from it without my head hurting from trying to figure it out. If there’s a moral, fine. If there ain’t one. That’s fine too.”

“So, Pop, what’s with the pipe? You don’t even smoke.”

“Just because what I’m reading ain’t highbrow don’t mean I can’t look the part. Makes me feel sophisticated.”

“Oh, brother.”


Copyright © 2010 by Michael D. Brooks

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