Never judge a book by its cover or a person by his outward app

Never judge a book by its cover or a person by his outward appearance.

My dad, Bart Hyche and I are living proof.

At 5’7” Harry Bernard Tabor Jr., doesn’t look like a wise old man of stature. But, excuse the clichŽ, looks can be deceiving.

Despite a touch of gray, my dad doesn’t look 60, which he turns today. (Happy Birthday, Daddy.) For the first time in years my mom didn’t decorate his birthday cake with candles, a real encouraging gesture for a man who was trying to forget senior citizenship. But I know Daddy could have blown out all 60 of them and more – he’s got incredible stamina. He gets up at 6 a.m. every morning, often jogs, reads the paper, drives to Starkville from Louisville, works from 9 to 5, drives back home, eats supper, and doesn’t retire until after Leno. In addition, he is a father of four, grandfather of nine, the state chairman of Ducks Unlimited, an active Lions Club member, Turkey Trot hunting club member, church leader and Sunday School teacher, and the sole caretaker of his father’s 500-acre farm.

Daddy has a lot going for him, especially his looks. He’s 60 going on 47. Instead of fretting today, Daddy should be laughing. He’s got everyone fooled, (with the exception of Daily Journal readers), even my Mom.

Mississippi State freshman basketball guard Bart Hyche can also fool you. He doesn’t know it, but he has made me eat my words.

I first met Bart last summer at the Boar’s Butt restaurant in Guin, Ala. Despite its name, the place was definitely not an eyesore to my friend and me, who had been water skiing all day. Looking ratty in fraternity shirts and cutoffs, we didn’t want to garner attention. However, we were a welcoming sight to Hyche, who was about to head to Starkpatch.

“Do you know any PIKEs at Mississippi State?” he asked after seeing my shirt. After I explained that I had been a PIKE little sister, he went on to tell me he was going to State to play for Richard Williams.

“Oh, really,” I retorted, thinking there was no way this wiry, little fellow was going to play for big Bulldogs. Maybe he would practice as a walk-on, I thought. After our meal, we settled up at the register where Bart’s dad was standing in front of his son’s wall of fame. All he, too, could talk about was MSU and big Erick Dampier. His dad sold us on two Boar’s Butt T-shirts, like the dawgs have, but he didn’t sell me on Bart. He’ll ride the pine, I thought.

Bart has proven me wrong. I’ve never seen a freshman step up and demand respect like he does. Sunday he added a layup and a 3-pointer to help the Bulldogs’ cause to the Final Four. Like Daddy, Hyche has his looks going for him. He may not look like much of a threat, but his layup drive Sunday past the towering Cincinnati centers is proof to beware of this dawg.

I, of all people, should have never underestimated Bart. Just the other day, an interviewee told me, “You’re not quite what I expected,” meaning he thought I was too young to be a reporter. The best age insult came the other day when I took my little friend to the mall to ride the carousel. The operator tried to make me buckle the strap like all the other kids. He thought I was 13.

Sunday night, a security guard at the Golden Triangle Airport thought I was a college student just using a pad and pencil to get inside. With the help of a Daily Journal photographer, I was able to get in. Because I blended in with all the college students, I had no problem getting the inside scoop on MSU’s arrival.

If youthfulness has anything to do with it, maybe people ought to judge a book by its cover – Dad, Bart and I are living proof.

Terri Tabor is a staff writer for the Daily Journal.

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