Growing up I knew uniforms. My father was a policeman and later I married one. My uncle was in the Air Force and everyday at noon the mailman dropped off the day’s letters in navy blue, as dad enjoyed his lunch. The first major job in my life was for the NFL where linemen to tight end all had a uniform sending them into glory. Respect and authority however weren’t always what they seamed.
Don’t get me wrong, they all looked great, but who hasn’t heard “clothes don’t make the man?” I guess that is why I loved my father best when we were fishing or when he was puttering in the garage – but then again, he ‘was” a man, and didn’t need uniformed behavior.
Books are the same way. I remember buying hard back (good grief did I remember that phrase?) with the slick dust jack covers reflecting light, with artwork or foil stamping (yup been published and know what that is!). Those covers dressed up even the worst story and looked great on a coffee table. It was only years later after I acquired a very special first edition, that I laughed at how unnecessary those covers were. Holding that first edition, one of several yet to come, I read each cherished word again and let them all paint the Sistine of my soul, touching those places I kept for myself.
It was the word that made the book.
Yes, I climbed up and down the professional ladder of success, accepting the acclimated access pass in the form of Dior, Coach, Chanel and Casini and looked damn good doing it. But I remember coming home and the briefcase sat by the door, my nylons became jeans and bare feet returned to their natural habitat – that was when I was at my best, I was a mom. The grass may have been greener in my wallet then, but I never lost sight of how wonderful it smelled after the rain or having just been mowed. Once during a board of directors meeting, I set a vocal opponent straight, pointing out I was a mom who worked, I was not a working mother – there was a difference and I was proud to know it.
A favorite cartoon clip from “Dexter’s Laboratory” called “NRFB” should be mandatory adult viewing. An anonym “Never Removed From Box,” is a secret club handshake, known to bring the strong to their knees and rattle EBay for hundreds. It is you see, a collectors term used like the suit a man or woman with plastic ideals might hide behind. It implies power and demands ownership. Not at all unlike the slick selling cover on a crummy story you can’t realize until it is too late and you have bought it. In reality however, it’s just an old doll stuck to a cardboard liner, fading and aging every day.
As age spreads across my horizon (and my hips), casual Friday and telecommuting have taken over the power suit and books have become digital, with fonts not fronts sitting on a PC or reader not a coffee table. The Twilight Zone where I visit frequently, reminds us beauty is in the eye of the beholder and such is the Aesop for humanity. Who you are is what makes you important and what you give of yourself everyday to those around you in life. So I live each day to the fullest, not NRFB hoping for my value to go up. I’ve taught my daughters to pay it forward, not look for the pay check, and that looking the part, is the easiest way to fall apart.
My first edition? It was the Velveteen Rabbit, quickly followed by the Steadfast Tin Solider and both stained and faded cloth covers are always within my reach, as well as my family and friends – just like me.