Personal Recipe

Here’s a fact that I’m sure will come as a shock to many of you who don’t pay attention: I’m a Native New Yorker. As a result, I have this bad habit of saying pretty much what’s on my mind.

Here’s another fact: New Yorkers have a reputation for being rude, but they’re really not. Most of them aren’t, anyway. What they are, is they’re abnormally direct with their opinions.

One time I was in Manhattan and I was downtown, in Greenwich Village, looking for Ray’s Pizza (the one on Prince Street, though I didn’t know that at the time). I asked someone for directions and he told me where it was, then said to me, “But you don’t wanna go there.”

Huh. Really. “I don’t?”

“Naw, you don’t wanna go there. You wanna go to Pizza Suprema. It’s the best in the City, up by Madison Square Garden. Try the upside-down slice.” Then he told me where the nearest train station was (you don’t say “subway” unless you’re a tourist, thanks) that would put me on the 1 or the 9 train (“don’t take the 2 or 3, they’re local trains, it’ll take you forever”) and sent me on my way.

In fact, the 2 and the 3 only add two stops between Houston and Penn Station, but what the heck. And Pizza Suprema’s upside-down slice is pretty damn good. But the point here is, New Yorkers will tell you what you want, especially when they realize you don’t know what you want.

This is something I’ve retained, even after nearly ten years in Baltimore. But I’m learning that there’s a fine line between being the guy who’s a straight shooter and being That Guy. The Straight Shooter is admired; That Guy is kind of a jerk. And I think I’ve done my time being a jerk, many many years ago. So my goal is to continue saying what I mean and not varnishing the truth too much, because it’s really not so precious a thing that nobody can look at it, but not to do it by becoming That Guy.

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I do not wish to expiate, but to live. My life is for itself and not for a spectacle. I much prefer that it should be of a lower strain, so it be genuine and equal, than that it should be glittering and unsteady. I wish it to be sound and sweet, and not to need diet and bleeding. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Think about the type of person you’d NEVER want to be 5 years from now. Write out your own personal recipe to prevent this from happening and commit to following it. “Thought is the seed of action.”

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