Don’t Read This Book If…
It was years ago but I remember sitting in the airplane with all the lights out but mine, trying not to laugh out loud. You know the feeling when the giggles you can not control gurgle out of your nose and you start coughing. I did not expect that immediate reaction while reading a biography about Ben Franklin.
One of the nine reviewers suggested that readers should not read Ben & Me on a plane. She said, “I spent most of the book, smiling, chuckling or laughing out loud. In fact, I am fairly certain that I annoyed the other passengers on my flight. But it was worth it.”
Forget her advice. Instead, I listened to my friend, Jamie Beck who recommended that I should read it as soon as I could. I bought the book at the airport and dug right in as the wheels of the plane left the ground.
In the first paragraph of the prologue of his essay, Cameron Gunn asked his wife “If I were an animal, what animal I would be, and “she hit me with sloth” … Surely she meant to say shark…or stallion.”
“Franklin abhorred sloth…I felt Franklin fixing me with his steely gaze across almost three hundred years of virtuous history. It was an inauspicious beginning…”
Like Ben, Cameron Gunn developed a graph to chart his successes and failures. Black dots marked his transgressions as he marched through the virtue-seeking weeks.
Franklin’s Thirteen Virtues
Gunn determined to test Ben Franklin’s thirteen virtues for himself and scribed his experimental thirteen weeks in Ben & Me From Temperance to Humility. He blamed his wife’s choice of animal identities on Ben Franklin.
Of course! Why not?
Cameron Gunn had some false starts in Ben’s “program” of self-improvement using his thirteen virtues. Ben defined virtues as temperance, silence, order, resolution, frugality, industry, sincerity, justice, moderation, cleanliness, tranquility, chastity, and humility. I’ve listed them in case you want to experiment as well.
Channeling his “inner Sun Tzu,” Gunn promised an honest portrayal of his virtue-seeking journey. He exposed his failed attempts admitting to drunkenness instead of the desired temperance.
One reviewer got bored with Cameron Gunn veering off his self-improvement course. How do you could get bored when he shares important lessons he learned from his dog?
“If a dog vomits or has diarrhea outside the house repeatedly, it will almost certainly vomit or have diarrhea inside the house. … Once your vet bills pass $5,000, your vet will treat you very much like part of his family (without giving you a family discount).” And #8 “Never mock pet insurance.”
You can’t help but enjoy Cameron’s fabulous lexicon. He described himself as Thickening (waist) and Thinning (hair), both “T’s seem like harbingers of doom.” It’s good to read this book on Kindle. You can press words like “maw” if it doesn’t ring a bell and you can’t figure the word’s meaning from contextual clues like we teach elementary students to do.
There was no surprise ending in Ben and Me. It was just one funny story after another for thirteen lessons. The only thing people wrote was, “This was hilarious.”
“Cameron Gunn is a lawyer, prosecutor, and author. His love of history, desire to be a better person and a surprising amount of free time, given that he is the father of three young children, led him to follow in the footsteps of Benjamin Franklin. Impressed with the idea that Franklin attempted to achieve moral perfection through a self-developed thirteen-week course of virtues, Gunn decided to try it himself. The results, while only marginally successful, led to Gunn’s first published book, Ben&Me. He continues to live with his wife, three daughters and two emotionally disturbed beagles in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada.”