I should have screamed “enough!” many years ago.

Enough of trying to conform or fit in. Enough of hoping to become something I’m not and never will be and never want to become.


As my hero Popeye said, “I yam and what I yam and that’s all I yam.”


I’m not interested in becoming a glad-handing, chamber of commerce, sis-boom-bah, go team, go sort of booster. In another word, I’m not a “Babbitt.”

I recall many years ago using that word in a conversation with a puzzled editor at a newspaper where I worked. I used it to describe somebody in town I thought was shallow and dull.

The editor, I hasten to add, is a smart fellow. He just wasn’t familiar with the term. “Babbitt” is the title of a 1922 Sinclair Lewis. I explained to the editor what I meant.

Wikipedia’s entry on the novel sums it up better than I could with these words on the book: “… it critiques the vacuity of middle-class Americans and the pressure toward conformity.”

Exactly. I don’t want to conform. I may be vacuous but I don’t view that as a virtue. I embrace eccentricity.

Calling me a “Babbitt” would be an ultimate insult.

In my younger days it bothered me that I didn’t fit in. Why can’t I be like most people? But I don’t want to be like most people. I realize that now.

Maybe some people think I’m weird, if they think of me at all.

I much prefer the word eccentric. Weird carries ominous connotations. Eccentric sounds harmless, sort of like a British chap who collects stamps and butterflies.

I’m not into either stamps or butterflies. I like classic movies and reading biographies, histories and novels.

As a kid I collected baseball card and often noticed on the backs of the cards under hobbies many players listed hunting and fishing. I thought when I grew up I would get into hunting and fishing because Mickey Mantle or Marv Throneberry or Don Mossi or whoever it was liked to hunt and fish.

But I had no interest then or now in hunting or fishing. Let alone hunting and fishing.

“I yam what I yam and that’s all I yam.”

I don’t fit any of the stereotypes for old white Florida dudes. I don’t hunt or fish or play golf or support Donald Trump.

Now, I wouldn’t mind learning how to play golf. I just never got around to it.

It’s never been a goal to be eccentric. It just happened. Sort of like getting grey hair, except the eccentricity came along a lot sooner.

Maybe I’ve read too many books for my own good. I just finished reading Ron Chernow’s 731-page biography of Alexander Hamilton last night and less than 24 hours later I’m deep into a Tracy Chevalier novel, “The Last Runaway.”

Maybe I should have tried conforming and reading less. Maybe I should consider “vacuity” a goal. But I like reading and learning things. I don’t consider ignorance and incuriosity faults.

“I Yam and what I yam. …”

I prefer drinking wine and watching thoughtful movies with Kathy to even thinking about hunting or fishing.

Now, not fitting in doesn’t bother me. Not at all. I consider it a blessing. I don’t want to conform. I don’t want to be like the Americans of “Babbitt.”

I want to read books and follow baseball and watch classic movies.

Yep, I’m embracing my eccentricity.

I’m sure Popeye would be proud of me.