I am a hugger.

Not a mugger, not a lugger, not a slugger…but a hugger.


I generally keep my emotional and/or physical distance from strangers, but when I really like somebody, and when it’s safe to do so, I tend to greet them with a hug—or at least a handshake.


Over the decades, I’ve evolved. One of the few advantages of aging is that I now see patterns in things, cause-and-effect phenomena in things…so that my behavior has subtly shifted.


Some things I’ve learned about hugging:


1.  Some people respond readily to a quick hug and seem flushed with pleasure at this nice surprise.


2.  Some people respond but quickly back away, as if they don’t know what to do after a hug.


3.  Some people stiffen and don’t respond to the hug. These are folks I won’t hug again, unless they initiate.


4.  Some people back away and will do anything to avoid a hug in the first place.


5.  Some people hug a little too long and make me want to back away.


6.  Some people, at first reluctant at each hug, now approach me as if they will actually miss the hug if I don’t provide it.


7.  Some guys are huggable, but others try to avoid it because, well, they don’t think it’s guyish. These are often older or elderly guys, whose generation doesn’t cater to this kind of behavior.


8.  Some people exude a kind of sensuousness when I hug them, so I tend not to try to hug them again, lest something happens. This used to occur a lot more when I was young…with sometimes pleasant results. No more—I’ve been happily monogamous for more than three decades.


Even after studying hugging for sixty years, I still don’t know why most huggers pat each other on the back.  Maybe it’s a kind of sign language that says, “Just hugging! Nothing more is meant!”


Anyhow, there’s lots of horror and sorrow and grief in the world that’s beyond my control. Maybe hugging is something I can do that reminds me that people can be pleasant to one another, even when they can’t think of anything comforting to say aloud


© Jim Reed 2009 A.D.




Question: Does the Universe comprise a series of acts by an absentee god?


Question: When we congratulate a winner, are we glad the winner is glad but at the

                 same time jealous and resentful?


Question: Is the product Harris Famous Roach Tablets marketed solely to famous

                  roaches? Archie was one famous roach, but I don’t recall any others. Or

                  are the tablets themselves famous, and marketed to people who want to

                  kill unknown roaches?


Question: Is a trash can actually a time capsule? A receptacle of memories?


Question: How do graduates of the DUI School celebrate?


Question: In the film The Sky’s the Limit, Fred Astaire gets to dance on a bar and

                  angrily kick glasses to pieces. The song is One More for the Road. How

                  come I can’t get away with doing that?


Question: I think I’d like to be a medium fish in an insignificant pond. Wait! Isn’t               

                  that what I  am?


Question: An optimist sees the glass as half full. What is a person who sees the glass and wants to know who drank half the water?


Question: Is it true that deceased Veterans didn’t die for me, they just died instead of me


–Jim Reed © 2009 A.D.







Just behind me, hanging from the 103-year-old mantel of our 103-year-old home, is a passel of eyeglasses.

These eyeglasses are gathered there for the temporary distraction or pleasure or horror of anyone who cares to try them on or watch somebody try them on.

Come into our dining room/writing room/art room and take a look at the world through these eyeglasses…or let the world marvel at the new and altered you in the act of wearing these eyeglasses.  Let’s see…what glasses can I spot at this moment?

There are the Backwards Shades, a double-whammy of a young person’s dream—when you don these, nobody can see your eyes, so they don’t know what you’re looking at. But, more interesting than that is the bonus fact that the inside edges of the dark lenses are mirrored. That means you can see whatever is behind you, too! There are things you will enjoy spying when nobody knows you can see them, such as a quick smooch. There are things you are sorry you saw, such as somebody snickering or rolling their eyes at you.  It’s almost as good as that adolescent fantasy of turning invisible and being able to see people who can’t see you, or entering forbidden places undetected. These are cool glasses! And no batteries needed!

How nice to not only watch where you are going, but where you have been, all at the same moment.

Then, there are pairs of 3-D eyeglasses, both the polarized gray ones and the red-and-green ones. In my adulthood, I’ve spent much time viewing the Mars Rovers’ 3-D images direct from Mars…and in my early youth, I gazed in wonder at Wonder Woman’s bosom and Superman’s fists in 3-D comic books.

How nice to see a flat world suddenly have depth and perspective!

I wish somebody would invent 2-D glasses so that I could view people who get in my face as non-threatening and paper-thin.

Of course, I never know when to stop. I also own X-Ray Vision glasses (better wear your lead underwear when you visit!), nerd glasses, psychedelic glasses, rose-colored glasses, telescopic glasses, and even the dilated-pupil-protector glasses you get at the eye doctor’s.

Why is all this stuff around?

Maybe because reality is repetitive and sometimes needs a pick-me-up view.

Maybe because the limited world presented to me out of habit has many angles and details that can only be viewed by changing the spectrum a bit.

Maybe because it’s fun to see somebody giggle when they wear these things or see somebody else wear them.

Maybe just because I’m the one who needs to giggle once in a while, just to get outside my pink, wrinkled body bag and take an oblique look at an all-too-real world

© Jim Reed 2009 A.D.





I was brought up in a two-bedroom asbestos-shingled bungalow housing two parents and four brothers and sisters. Sounds crowded, but we didn’t know it. My younger younger brother, Tim, slept in the den (where books and television and dining room and family room mingled), my older younger brother, Ronny, slept on the bottom bunk and I on the top bunk of our own bedroom, older sister Barbara slept in a room that was once our paneled-in front porch, and younger sister Rosi occupied Barbara’s room, then our bedroom, once we had up and moved away.


Our parents had their own bedroom.


So, we made do. And it all seemed perfectly natural.


But the one sacred room in the house was our sole bathroom.


It was the primp room, the reading room, the telephone booth (our single phone cord reached from the hallway into the bathroom)…the only place any member of the family could disappear into for a little privacy. The primary challenge was timing. In order to escape the merry chaos of seven people and assorted visiting pets and neighbors and relatives was to find the bathroom vacant and maximize your private time. That’s why the bathroom always housed books and magazines and notepads. It was the only place you didn’t risk having somebody look over your shoulder.


All spaces were small, in that little home on Eastwood Avenue in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. You learned to get a lot done in a tiny area…and to this day, I tend to work within a few square feet, no matter how much space is at my disposal. I surround myself with books and diaries and papers and magazines and keepsakes wherever I am. I even write and edit in small spaces—it just doesn’t feel right, sitting in the middle of a large, vacant room with plenty of stretch space. It’s not quite as extreme as hunching over your food, prisoner-like, guarding your plate on three sides, but it is the way I’ve survived all these years.


Five out of the seven of us Reeds are what you call introverts. For instance, I take my privacy with me wherever I go. Even in a crowded room, you’ll often find me in a corner looking at books or examining artifacts or talking with just one person at a time.  Two of us introvert Reeds are performers, so sometimes you’ll see us entertaining large groups of people and mistake us for extroverts. Not so. We’re merely performers, actors. I am comfortable in front of a crowd when they’re all paying attention, when they have brought me in to entertain. It’s exhilarating. But, in the true tradition of introversion, it’s also exhausting.


After a performance, I re-charge by being alone and quiet.


All these years, I’ve been grateful for learning at the age of 13 that I was an actor, performer, public speaker at heart. This skill enables an otherwise shy person to excite crowds and classrooms—easy to do, so long as I know that I can ride away afterward, saying, as the Lone Ranger used to comment to his companion, “Our job is done here. Let’s go!”


It also allows me to run a very public bookstore and love it. I can perform for each customer, one on one or in groups, playing the part of book dealer. Then, I can go home to my quietness and re-charge for the next day.


Because of who I am, because of how I was raised, I have the best of both worlds. I’m able to be alone anywhere anytime with any number of people…and I’m able to switch on, enjoy, joke with and entertain whenever I feel like it.


I get my jollies, then ride off into the sunset.


Ain’t life great


–© Jim Reed 2009 A.D.