You could learn a lot from Selleck.

Sitting day after day at my lonely little copy center desk, I spend a considerable amount of time staring at the rack of dvds we try to sell.  I say “try” because it never seems like anyone actually buys them.  Its kind of a shame, really, as there are quite a few good titles to choose from, and they’re almost always buy one get one free.  I’d totally pick up Baron Muchausen, Dirty Harry, The International, and a few others.  But the ones that intrigue me the most, the ones that have already taught me the most just by the sheer power of their covers, are the assorted Tom Selleck titles.

            Our rack contains, on average, 5-7 titles featuring the mustachioed majesty that is Selleck, each a direct-to-dvd masterpiece.  Maybe.  I haven’t actually seen any of them.  However, I have already gleaned a number of important life lessons from them, simply by the brilliance of their cover.  It is said you should never judge a book by its cover, but hey, these ain’t books.  So there.

Lesson #1 – Respect Authority, as learned from “Sea Change

             Look at him there, standing all contemplative.  You can totally tell he’s deep in thought, trying to figure out the secrets of some convoluted plot.  The beat-up leather jacket harkens back to his missed opportunity to play the role of film’s most famous archeologist, Han Solo.  The five-o-clock shadow on his chin tells of his tireless efforts to solve whatever mystery Robert B. Parker has penned for him.  He’s ready to jump into action!

            But wait, what’s this?  A police line!  “Do Not Cross” it says.  As a man of integrity and honor, Selleck would never break such a hallowed barrier.  He’ll stand fast on this side of that police line, squinting and straining to see what clues may lay beyond the yellow border.  He so respects the authority of the police line that he would rather see a guilty man go free than to violate the trust instilled by the thin, yellow, plastic boundary.

            Proper respect for authority is a fading trait these days.  Miscreants of all walks openly flaunt their disapproval of all things authoritative.  Radical anarchists blow up cars in Switzerland, anti-globalization rioters destroy Starbucks, the McRib returns.  Tom would be disgusted by such actions, and would fight to his dying breath to defeat them. 

Lesson #2 – Bring a Gun, as learned from “Death in Paradise

             I once read an interesting little list of “rules of a gunfight.”  Rule number one: bring a gun.  “Death in Paradise” shows our hero, forlorn and brooding, clutching his Model 1911 pistol firmly.  Again, the stubble on his face shows his weariness, perhaps from the daily fight just to stay sober and uphold the law.  No wait, that’s Die Hard.  Sorry.

            But Selleck does have his shirt unbuttoned a bit, showing just a whisp of manly chest-rug.  He almost seems to be holding his precious .45 close to his heart, as though it were more dear to him than his children (whom I assume he ate. He’s Cronus). I can only hope that he hasn’t fired that chrome death machine too recently, or he risks singing off that masculine mat on his chest.

            The glint in his eyes tells us one thing more than anything else, “I have a gun.”  The question fronted by the one raised eyebrow is simply: “Do you?”  If you answered no, please value your life and the fragile psyche of Selleck and walk away.  He does not want to shoot you, but darn it, he will if he must.  And doing so will undoubtedly spout another small handful of hair on his burly chest.

Lesson #3 – Take Care of Yourself, as learned from “Last Stand at Saber River

             In the first of Tom’s many period pieces on display here, we see him posing with his trusty Winchester rifle.  Ok, it may not be a Winchester.  But would you know the difference?  It’s not a Tommy Gun, or a bazooka, so it must be a Winchester.  Regardless, the lesson I learned from this cover is to take care of yourself. 

            Selleck teaches us this by making sure to don his favorite neckerchief and arm guards.  Whilst riding out on the range it is not uncommon for a horse to kick up dust and dirt.  Your average cowboy could inhale tons of the stuff over a lifetime.  But not Selleck, he pulls that neckerchief up over his face and breathes easily.  In the days before swine flu-driven sales of respirators, only the most self-preserving of folks would bother with the neckerchief.  Tom wants you to know that you aren’t less of a man for looking out for your lungs.

And those arm guards! How much manlier can you get?  Only grisled gunfighters and Vikings can get away with wearing such things. They not only protect one’s arms from mosquitos and other biting insects, but also protect delicate French cuffs on those old timey shirts.  Thanks Tom, for showing us how to extend the lives of our cuffs and our fragile, girly wrists.

Lesson #4 – Have Good Friends, as learned from “The Shadow Riders

             Here once again we find the esteemed Mr. Magnum Selleck dressed in his finest western garb.  Without actually watching these movies, I’m left to hope that these are, in fact, westerns, and not some bizarre post-apocalyptic wasteland movies where everyone just dresses like cowboys.  “The Shadow Riders” teaches us one of life’s most important and difficult lessons, have good friends.

            In this case, Selleck seems to be close with Sam Elliot, another fine and underrated actor.  Also, another fine and underrated mustache.  I’m reminded of those rules of a gunfight; rule #2 is: bring friends with guns.  Selleck and Elliot must have gotten the same mass email that I got, because they’re living by these rules. 

            On the other hand, this may be a classic case of “keep your friends close and your enemies closer.”  The two may be bitter rivals for the affection of their third-billed co-star Katherine Ross.  Can you blame them?

            Or…this could be the rejected first attempt at a film version of Brokeback Mountain.  Would Tom do that?  Sure, he’s got the range

 Lesson #5 – Have a mustache, as learned from Every Other Tom Selleck DVD Cover

           Bottom line, mustache trumps no mustache every time.  I can only hope to someday live up to this teaching.

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