I try not to get too personal about sports stars or performers. Their performance is what I am interested in; You will not find fan magazines in my house. I’ll recognize that I like what someone does but not link the name to the number or role. When someone says, “What about Paul Whozee? Great, don’t you agree?” Then they’ll have to explain to me, slowly and in simple words, who they are talking about. After which, I am still left wondering why this is important.
It wasn’t always this way. Growing up, I followed baseball, football, and hockey. I also eagerly followed performers I found interesting. But somewhere along the way, a circuit snapped open, and I found other interests. I lost track of who played for the Bruins, which guitarist played in a band I liked, and who that cute actress was. I paid attention to what they did rather than who they were. As I watched other people build insane cults of personality, I realized my lack of interest in individuals wasn’t alarming. Yes, some people loomed so large in my interests that I had to pay attention to them as individuals: Jimmy Buffet or Dr. John.
Mostly, though, I’d think, “Oh yeah, I’ve seen that actor before.” Or, ” the Bruins lost, that’s too bad.” If you wanted to discuss personality, it would wind up with me nodding idiotically with a slight smile on my face. If you took me out to a sports bar, you’d want to wear a disguise so that no one knows that you’re with the guy who knows no one and nothing.
Now, woodcarving is different. I can identify the work of several of my favorite 19th-century shipscarvers. Just ask me about Benjamin Rush, Samuel McIntire, or Bellamy. I can tell you a bit about the details of McIntire’s tool kit or how the feathers on Rush’s eagled seemed to nestle together naturally. After we discuss that, I’ll tell you about the mysterious way Bellamy simply stopped carving years before he had to. Hey! I bet you don’t know where he got his wood from.
There’s more, and I don’t have much to do today. Want another cup of coffee? I’ll give you a shop tour and show you the tools, gauges, and templates of the Bellamy eagles I particularly like. You’ll take a raincheck, you say? Sure, just call when you want. Hey? Want to see the library I have on marine carving? No?
It’s too bad you have to be leaving so soon.