Opinion: All Jacked up


My entire life, people have been saying, “Dick, you don’t know Jack.” Actually, I do. In fact, I know dozens of Jacks.

Apparently, screenwriters and producers find the name Jack to be rugged sounding. As I was growing up, most of the Jacks I knew of possessed questionable masculinity. One, in particular, couldn’t even navigate climbing a hill and ended up with a head injury, all in an effort to hydrate himself and his girlfriend, Jill.

Another Jack jumped over a candlestick, which isn’t that difficult. Jack Horner sat in a corner, eating curds and whey. Or was that Little Miss Muffet?  Whatever. Jack Sprat ate no fat. Not much of a man, if you ask me.

TV series titles are Jack-heavy these days. Here are some that Mary Ellen and I watch:

“Jack Taylor” — This boozy, former Irish police guard, now a private detective, never shaves, he smokes incessantly, he drinks heavily and has a way (the wrong way) with women.

“Jack Reacher” — Played by Tom Cruise, he’s a loner who seldom smiles, and he has no credit card or driver’s license. Sounds like me after I leave my wallet at a restaurant.

“Jack Ryan” — John Krasinski plays this character, a desk jockey at the CIA who is pressured into the real world of spying. He is just as virile as the next guy — as long as I’m not the next guy.

“Jack Irish” — What an odd name for an Australian. He’s a burned-out lawyer looking for a freelance gig as a private eye. For more details about his personality, just read about Jack Taylor above. They could be the same person.

These characters named Jack all project a certain image. You don’t see many tough guys with the name Allen or Jerry or Bob. If there are any, I am sure I’ll get emails correcting the record.

Mary Ellen has a “thing” for many of these Jacks. When I expressed a tinge of insecurity, she explained that the guys in these shows were men she could never have brought home to meet her mother. Her mother wanted Mary Ellen to bring home a nonsmoking, sober, clean-shaven guy without a shred of sex appeal. Mission accomplished.

Here are a few more well-known Jacks: Nicholson, Nicklaus, Lemmon, Black, Palance, Lord and Parr. There are some tough guys in that list, but a few don’t fit the bill. Hey, maybe I’ll do a column on Bills next week.

On a somewhat unrelated note, people often ask me who I believe is the greatest comedian of all time. It was Mr. Benny.

And now I’m done Jacking around.


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