Pine Nuts: What might Mark Twain say to today’s skateboarders?
We have a new skateboard shop here in the village, and a few of our finest teens hang out there to swap stories and Tony Hawk trading cards. Today, as I was passing by, one of them shouted, “Mark Twain!”
So I pulled on my mask and wandered over, bearing in mind that these kids have already had to endure the aftermath of 9-11, the 2008 recession and a pandemic.
They extended a courteous greeting and I asked one of them, “So what book are you reading?”
“Ahhh…I sold it at a garage sale, I forget the title, but I got a dollar for it.”
One of them had a phone, so I helped pilot him to this image …
Their eyebrows went up as I asked them if they would remember one thing from Mark Twain. They responded with one unanimous, “Fire away!”
“The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who cannot read them.”
They indulged me with a smile, we exchanged high-elbow-salutations and I took their leave, feeling some pride in the possibility that just maybe Mark Twain might have had some small influence on a few teens out of school in 2020.
There is something inherently comforting about immersing oneself in another century to the point where you actually live in that century most of the time. When I pull on the white suit and pick up my pipe I’m not play acting, I’m inhabiting the 19th century, a simpler time, when stump water was a sure cure for the warts. And when you start to see things through somebody else’s eyes, well, it tends to improve your own 2020 vision, if you will excuse the pun. My father was an optometrist and everybody knew it, because I was always making a spectacle of myself. And yes, I concur, the pun is the saddest evidence of intellectual poverty, but sometimes one just cannot help himself. The best punster I’ve ever known? Guy Rocha, with The Good Reverend Doctor Bill Watson of Thunderbird Lodge a close second.
Much has changed in America in this century, but one thing that has not changed is the resiliency of our teens. They are a hearty bunch, a gritty bunch, an enduring bunch, and I have such faith in them I could burst all the buttons off my Mark Twain vest.
I’m reading about Abe Lincoln right now and find it enchanting that the Lincolns moved so often when Abe was a boy, even the chickens knew when it was time to move. They would walk out to the wagon, lay flat on their backs and raise their feet into the air to be tied-up for the trip ..
Fact is, I intend to call on Abe once this impending election is decided. I’m determined to rise to the call of Abraham Lincoln in 2021, “With malice toward none, with charity for all.”
Learn more about McAvoy Layne at http://www.ghostoftwain.com.
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