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The Gentleman's Preferences



How sad is the decline of the newspaper?  2008 marked the first year in which more people got their news online than from newspapers.  It’s probably not a tragedy for my own aspirations as a writer, but there’s something classic about reading the morning paper with a cup of coffee.  I love shuffling outside in my slippers to get the paper, checking out the weather, bitching about it, then enjoying the tactile sensations of the cover page, the sports section, and the comics (I keep hoping my interests will expand with age, but unfortunately, I still have very little use for sections with titles like Money or Life, since I have neither).

I do a lot of reading online, mostly because I enjoy the constant turnover of fresh material in exchange for no dollars and free cents.  This suits my budget beautifully.  But for my birthday I got John Meacham’s American Lion, a biography of Andrew Jackson’s years in the White House, which were, needless to say, eventful.  It’s a beautiful hardcover book with those classic looking semi-frayed pages.  I’m fairly confident I’m getting as much pleasure out of fondling the pretty book as I am reading it.  But then again, I’ve said less-gay things.

I remember going downstairs at my Uncle Ken’s old place and he had shelf after shelf of books, a mini-library full of interesting stuff to learn, from which I always picked the least educational book with the most jokes.  I’ve always kind of been of the belief that if you’re going to spend hours reading something, at the end of that time it’d be nice to be a little smarter than you were at the beginning, so non-fiction makes sense.  I can’t wait to have a non-fiction mini-library full of funny books I don’t remember because of the drinking problem I developed at 30.

Did I mention I intend to develop a drinking problem?  Not  the type of problem where people point out that I have a problem, but the one where people of high society respect me because I can tell what a good scotch is.  I’ve always had this curious desire to be able to distinguish between things like the gas station Colts I occasionally enjoy (thanks, Dad) and a Cuban cigar.  I’d love to have a decanter full of scotch on a tray with classy glasses that I occasionally splash the bottom of and sip like a gentleman.  I recently conquered wine (and by conquered, I mean became capable of consuming it.  Distinguishing between $4.99 and $49.99 is still not in my set of tools).

I think I can justify my interest in wanting to enjoy these things.  The logic goes like this:  Everything I hated as a kid and was told was “an acquired taste” (grapefruit juice, turnips, asparagus, spinach), was an acquired taste.  I absolutely love them now.  So I assume that these things that are supposedly an extremely acquired taste are going to blow my mind when I learn to like them. 

I think I understand these grumpy old men who sit on their porch and decry everything youthful and temporary.  They’ve found their comforts.  Black coffee in the morning, read the “obits”, as the slang goes for people who read obituaries enough to develop slang for them, a bacon sandwich for lunch and a whiskey in the afternoon.  Given, that’s probably not the healthiest lifestyle (or one that probably exists anywhere), but my point is that people seem to spend the first 60 years of their life finding out what they like, and the rest of it enjoying those things and those things alone.  iPod?  Stuff it, junior.

So, I’ve got another 34 years to get my tastes right before I devote myself to my morning paper, Arizona Green Tea, Snack-Packs and gas station cigars.  That’s not gonna scare any kids.  And isn’t that the ultimate moment of accomplishment for the refined palette?  You let your grandkid have a sip of your scotch and watch the kid reject it like Lebron on defense.  Then you get to say “one day you’ll appreciate all this young one….. One day”.




7 Responses to “The Gentleman's Preferences”
  1. Buddha says:

    I can tell you this… I will be 30 in two weeks. I have had Cubans in Mexico, and I would much, much rather have had a Swisher Sweets with the little honey taste at the beginning. Although a good Arturo Fuente Opus X never hurt me either. I do not like black coffee, asparagus, spinach, or grape fruit juice, and I am caught somewhere between drinking just get feel the buzz and drinking because I actually like the taste.

    So… if you are hoping for these refined tastes by 30, all I can say is get started now. If you are looking to have them by 60, I’ll keep you posted.

    Excellent blog, and definitely not “just another weblog.”

  2. Ak Hockey Alumni says:

    J.B. Alot of people are wanting you to wright a greatest hits compilation on your blog about your life and Hockey in Anchorage since now that you have become famous…

  3. Ak Hockey Alumni says:

    I obviously got my degree there also as you can see I cant spell..

  4. Ak Hockey Alumni says:

    One more thing you are getting alot of love from Doyle and The Donalds Blog in Ak. Thought you might want to know

  5. Neil says:

    It is impressive how much better your writing has gotten so quickly. It was more than fine before but you are really finding your style, the positive responses on The Hockey News was well-deserved. People read one of your articles and immediately get a sense of who you are and they like you. Congrats on being put in the magazine!

    I wonder, what if people spend their lives compromising and doing things that are varying mixtures of convenience and desire, until they reach a point where they feel justified in doing what they prefer without shame or guilt? Maybe behaviour changes for many people in old age because they no longer feel the compulsion to compete with others socially, economically, etc. (you don`t have to prove yourself when you have three kids, 6 grandkids, and a decent pension), and the result is a somewhat stubborn, kind-hearted person who drinks scotch and watches the world go by instead of running out and trying to ride it into the sunset listening to Feist on their i-pod. It`s just a theory.

    And while I’m acting like I’m smart, let me add that I used to share your attitude about non-fiction, but after reading a few good fiction books I realized that you learn stuff from both (not to sound horribly cheesy). I challenge you to read a good fiction book and not be a little smarter afterwards. Check out 100 Years of Solitude or Cat`s Cradle. You smoke pot right?

  6. jtbourne says:

    Corbett, I love your comments, they’re by far my favourite. Sorry I haven’t been responding as much, I’ve finally been a bit busier. First, thanks about the writing, it’s funny, it’s only been a couple months, but I went back and read a few earlier ones and it was like watching early Simpsons episodes. Hopefully I keep learning what makes this more readable.
    I like the theory, it’s like Darwin, everything is driven by competition everywhere, and I agree, old age is like the finish line. Fuck what anyone else thinks, I’m okay with admitting that I love cats type of thing.
    As for the good fiction, I’m in. Pick a good one and I’ll read it, promise.

  7. Neil says:

    I really, really liked 100 Years of Solitude by Gabriel Marquez and Oprah agrees. I haven’t read a lot of fiction but if you like sci-fi you’ll like Dune. But if I could get you to read a single book on my recommendation it would definitely be 100 Years of Solitude.

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