Don’t use up your talking points too quickly

My wife asked me last week, “Did you check out a lot of books from the library when you were young?”

We’ll be married for 44 years on Friday. Apparently there are still matters we’ve yet to discuss. Perhaps that’s the secret to a long marriage: Don’t give up all your personal information too quickly. Save a little for the golden years. I’ve still got “what’s your favorite color” in my back pocket for later. Maybe I’ll spring it at our anniversary dinner at Ruth’s Chris.

A few months ago I was rooting around in the garage and I came upon a list of gifts Jane and I received at our wedding. A few people went all out—my folks bought us a honeymoon in Hawaii—but by far the most common gift we received from people was $10. Today I’m not sure if the givers were cheapskates or if $10 was a lot of money in 1979. I looked it up: $10 in 1979 is equivalent in purchasing power to about $42.11 today, an increase of $32.11 over 44 years. OK, so they were cheapskates. And if we had held on to all of those $10 bills and checks, they probably wouldn’t cover the cost of dinner for two at Ruth’s Chris.

Anyway, yeah, I checked out a ton of books from the Los Altos Neighborhood Library when I was a kid. Whatever the max was—maybe seven books at a time. Our stepmom would drop me and my sister off and then disappear for a few hours, which I’m guessing were rather blissful for her—and that’s a guess based on the fact that around the house she would frequently sing “The Prisoner’s Song,” with its mournful lyrics “If I had the wings of an angel/over these prison walls I would fly.” I think she was singing the Brenda Lee version rather than the Burl Ives one.

So I always loved books. I read the New York Times Book Review every week with its feature “By the Book,” which appears to be an email Q&A with more or less the same questions every week, including “what kind of reader are you,” to which the answer is virtually always “voracious.” That always puts me on the offensive and I feel like challenging them to a reading contest, which I’d probably lose, but I always have been reading pretty much within a year or two of the Los Altos branch’s opening in 1957.

So, “yes,” I told my patient and understanding wife of nearly 44 years. “I checked out as many books as they’d let me.”

My educated guess, and just going with the numbers here, is that blue is my wife’s favorite color, but I’ll ask her Friday night just to spark up the conversation.

Things I can’t get enough of, apparently

One is the Sackler family‘s ferocious and overwhelming crime of unleashing Oxycontin on the country and the world. I’ve read Patrick Radden Keefe’s “Empire of Pain,” watched the Hulu docudrama “Dopesick,” starring Michael Keaton as an addicted victim of the drug, and now just wrapped up a six-episode viewing of “Painkiller” with Matthew Broderick playing an against-type role as Richard Sackler. Uzo Aduba turns in a fine role as a dogged, utterly humorless U.S. Attorney investigator (her character is a composite of various whistle-blowers, journalists and investigators). It’s yet another solid shot at the Sacklers and their Purdue Pharma death factory, though I didn’t find it as dismal and dramatic as “Dopesick.”

My other never-ending obsession is with the events of Jan. 6, 2021. I’ve watched hours of the violence of the rabid rioters attacking the U.S. Capitol, and even a few minutes glancing at Tucker Carlson’s edits of happy tourists roaming around inside the building happily taking snapshots for their scrapbooks of their visit to Washington. I even pored through the Jan. 6 Commission’s report.

This weekend I watched a comprehensive documentary by Jules and Gédéon Naudet, “January 6th” on Discovery+ and more than two years after the attack, which I watched here at the Post on TV as it was happening. The footage of the insurrectionists, the madness of the crowd, remains as shocking and as repulsive as ever.

Let’s not forget or sugar-coat what happened that day, and keep it in mind whenever you vote.

Tim Grobaty is a columnist and the Opinions Editor for the Long Beach Post. You can reach him at 562-714-2116, email [email protected], @grobaty on Twitter and Grobaty on Facebook.