Ever seen a western where one character says about another, “Best stay away from that one, he’s touched in the head,” as the surly one who made the statement taps his own head with a bony index finger? One look at this motley cowpoke, with several missing teeth, scraggly beard, and not having bathed in a month or twelve and you wonder which one should wear the label of “touched.” (As a side note I’d rather kiss his horse.)
There, I said it. I violated the most sacred law of the written word since…well, the first word was written. And what was my intolerable transgression? I judged a book by its cover. Pun intended, no pun intended, it doesn’t matter because it’s not funny anyway. And no lawsuits, please. If you think about it, you’ve most certainly violated this unwritten rule yourself, whether in life’s daily pitfalls or literally, when choosing a book.
I made the mistake of choosing a novel way beyond my years for a book report while in elementary school. It had a really neat cover (speaking in period lingo) and it was about three inches thick, which I thought made me look right groovy. (period lingo once again) While my classmates chose thin little kiddie books, I compared my adult novel to their simplistic choices. I imagined standing in front of the class as an adult having read such advanced literature and the exquisite book report it would impart.
Imagine the hissing sound heard round the classroom as my ego deflated when it came time to read “Ivanhoe.” I immediately formed a battle strategy… Procrastinate. Slowly at first and then in a bloody massacre, my soldiers began to fall until a week before my book report was due, I still had five hundred pages of a five hundred page novel to read. What to do, what to do?
Then one day while perusing the assorted reading material the teacher kept on a table at the back of the class, I saw it…THE LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL….the oasis in the blistering heat of the desert…the Calvary in the nick of time. There it sat, “Ivanhoe,” the comic book! (or, in today’s vernacular “graphic novel.”) I had been pulled from the jaws of utter failure and into the light of the elusive “A” on my oral book report through no contribution of my own.
So you see, occasionally judging a book by its cover can return a significant reward….but usually not. In my case, it was still a bone-headed move….hmm, guess I’ve acquired all the credentials I need to go into politics?