Hand Me a Good Book

Hand me a good book...

 ..and I'll probably hand it right back. 

Other than reading the sports page in local papers, I have to admit I've not been much of a reader thus far in my life. And I can't see that changing anytime soon. 

Slow and deliberate reading was the norm in my youth. Combine those traits with a possible non-diagnosed attention deficit disorder, forcing me to re-read every paragraph, and it's easy to see why reading never was a top choice for me as a pastime. 

My mom worried about that many years ago. A voracious reader in her own right, she surprised me with the novel Treasure Island in hardback, as a Christmas gift when I was twelve years old. I read half of it, then lost interest, and to this day I've never finished the book. 

My disdain for reading continued through my college years too. In one literature course, we were assigned to read eight novels in one trimester. I used the library's Master Plots to garner a rough idea of the content of each book and it was enough to get me through the course. Thank goodness most of my other course work and the hands-on labs in biology, chemistry and physics didn't require nearly as much reading or I may not have made through to graduation. 

Today, I have to give thanks to my wife, who along with my ghost proof reader Sherry, offer a few helpful suggestions here and there in my stories. Without them, my own writing might not ever get critiqued, especially by me. 

Not so subtle suggestions... 
Despite encouragement to read more often from my mom, wife and grown kids, my habits never changed. My son once suggested that I read a book by Russian author, Fyodor Dostoyevsky. I told him I had a rough time just getting through the guy's name and the title of the book, The Brothers Karamazov, and there was no way I'd consider tackling that monstrosity. 

My wife is currently a member of a book club, and many evenings she can be found engrossed in some type of novel. Her pleas to me that I might be interested in a particular book are dismissed daily. 

I try to explain to her that, “I can't help it - I just don't like to read.” I'd much rather watch a movie or a re-run on television. 

Time to pay the piper... 
Through the years, I have no clue as to how often I attempted to assemble an appliance or toy, or make a repair on some household item without first reading the directions. I do know that the number has to be staggering. Fortunately nothing detrimental occurred regarding my reluctance to read the instructions. It was only a matter of time though, that my contempt for reading would catch up with me. 

Such was the case when my wife and I took part on a trip through New England one summer a few years back. 

Part of a group tour, we booked the journey through a local bus company and were given an ample supply of brochures, pamphlets and other materials highlighting our excursion. 

Did I read any of them? Absolutely not. I did look at the pictures and glanced at the itinerary so I knew where we were going, but that was about it. 

Knowing that my wife read the information gave me all the reassurances that I thought I needed. 

Silver doubloons and pieces of eight... 
One of the stops on this trip included a buffet meal and an evening of gambling at a casino in Connecticut. Had I known that patrons were required to purchase tokens prior to hitting the slot machines or black jack tables, I would not have saved (for three months) just over fifty dollars worth of quarters prior to the departure date. 

Try to imagine a full grown man, with over 200 quarters stored in four pockets in his cargo shorts, limping on bad knees, the whole way through a casino. I could not believe that then I was instructed by security to head back toward the entrance door to purchase the tokens that I knew nothing about until just then. 

To make matters worse, we were scheduled to eat dinner in the casino restaurant immediately prior to our gambling, and I had forgotten to pack a belt in my luggage. I am sure that security video cameras captured me as I struggled through that buffet line, my drooping shorts weighted down with coins. 

Somewhere, someone had to be chuckling when they got a view of Victor Vacation trying to hold up his pants with one hand, and attempting to place food on a tray with the other. 

To be honest, with my limp and all that silver in my pockets, I had a flashback to the first half of Treasure Island that I read many years earlier. 

And, as my wife quickly reminded me – had I read the brochure, I would have known better, proclaiming, “You have no one to blame but yourself.” 

More embarrassment... 
After returning to our hotel that evening, I located the remote control device for the television and commenced pushing buttons just like I would have done at home. While my wife showered, I scanned the menu to see what might be on the tube in that section of the country. I must admit that some of the selections were not familiar to me so I gave them more attention than the usual three tenths of a second that I give most channels when surfing. 

Need I mention that I did not read any of the information on the TV guide pamphlet located on the desk next to the television? 

I settled in on a baseball game and then took a shower when the bathroom became available. When I returned to bed, I set the volume on low, and promptly fell asleep. Apparently, the exertion from carrying the cargo of silver treasures earlier wore me out. 

During check out time the next morning, the lobby was filled with members of our group, waiting patiently for our driver to pull up so we could board the bus and go on our way. 

Just then the young woman at the desk declared in a loud voice that Mr. Dave Potchak had a balance due. It was for the adult movies I unknowingly purchased the evening before. 

As I stammered with my explanation to the employee, my poor wife turned away from the desk in an attempt to disassociate her relationship with this perverted patron. 

She had no reason to speak as we boarded the bus. Her expression alone said it all: “It's your own fault because you refuse to read anything.” 

Well, I'm going to show her and my kids. I plan to finish that second half of Treasure Island as soon as I read the many large booklets of information dealing with my new insurance coverage under medicare. I've been using the new medical policy for over four months now but I've not read any of the pamphlets sent to me by the government. 

On second thought, I think there is a video available pertaining to Medicare and I'm sure Treasure Island is now on DVD. So, I guess there's no need to read either of those right now.

My Roots - The Potchaks - circa 1927

My Roots - The Potchaks - circa 1927
From Left: Son, Steve - Dad, Frank - Mom, Anastasia (Makar) - Sons; John, Mike, Frank, Chuck (Author's Dad) - Twins, Pete & Mary - Daughter, Catherine. Photo taken in Wilmore, PA