Me & Popeye

“I yam what I yam, and that’s all what I yam” — Popeye t. Sailor Man, circa 1933

On the surface, any sense of kinship between and the iconic middle-aged sailor is probably hard to find. I hate spinach.

I lack his degree of muscularity regardless of what I eat, I can’t swim, and my only noticeable speech impediment might be my accent (although I insist that I’m not the one who talks funny, it’s everybody else). Then we reach come upon his famous declaration and the affinity becomes much clearer, even if you squint.

“I yam what I yam”. What a beautifully unapologetic way of putting things. Simultaneously taking credit for any positive traits and accepting responsibility for any negative ones. It shows a firm sense of identity and a healthy degree of self-awareness. It’s unequivocal, devoid of any attempt or intent to deceive himself or others.

As the hip kids said (at some point), “I’m down with dat”.

If you know me well enough to read this blog then I’m probably about to preach to the choir a little bit. Indulge me. Just consider it a quick but important primer for those who may be less experienced, clarification for those who’ve had intermediate levels of exposure but are not quite sure of the parameters or just as a helpful Idiot’s Guide for those who are a little slower on the uptake.

What you see is what you get folks. I’m me. All day. 24/7, 365. I haven’t stayed at a Holiday Inn Express in ages, I’ve never played a doctor on TV, and I’m not inclined to appear as any character other than “himself”. In a nutshell, I figure God knows my heart & I see myself in the mirror everyday, those are the two judges I deal with when I try to sleep at night. I’m just too old & too tired to invest any significant energy in trying to impress anybody or fool anybody else.

In the internet era in particular, I’ve encountered people who kept trying to “figure me out”, who wanted to know what sort of character I was playing online. Eventually they generally reach the conclusion that I’m telling the truth when I insist that I’m the same guy in person that I am in cyberspace. Good, bad, indifferent … but consistent.

Sure, I’ll alter word choice sometimes based on the audience, elevate or degrade my default vocabulary but that’s in the interest of communicating more effectively. What I don’t change is the meaning or the intent, the message will be generally consistent whether I’m talking to my son, my parents, my oldest friends, or my newest acquaintances. Whether we’re talking about politics, pot roast, or pitching changes, I’ll tell everyone the same story. I may alter the depth of that commentary to suit the venue, the nature of our relationship, time/space restrictions, my available energy, my mood, or my interest in the subject but you’ll find consistency in the message across all those variations.

Subject to the limitations of my patience, I may choose not to share certain things with everyone at the same time. I also try to be conscious and respectful of venue. I’m not likely to kick down your door to force some random opinion down your throat, but if you step across my threshold then you’re going to be served out of the same punch bowl as everyone else. That’s an important point right there, one I’m compelled to expand upon because it relates to what prompted this missive in the first place.

For a large percentage of the people who interact with beyond the most casual of ways, the relationship is ultimately voluntary. Mutually voluntary. If you aren’t paying me, I’m not paying you, and we don’t find ourselves being held against our will by forces too powerful to overcome, either of us can walk away when the cost of the interaction outweighs the benefit. Not only can we, I’d suggest that we should part if we reach that point. You know that old saying, about how life is too short to dance with ugly partners? I’d argue that life is too long to inflict discomfort on yourself without a net gain. We’ve all got X number of days here, those come with a certain amount of suffering built in. What possible reason is there to inflict more than the required amount upon yourself if the absence of an adequate payoff? If you’ve got enough masochistic tendencies that you enjoy that kind of thing that’s your business I suppose but I’m still not under any compulsion to hand you the whip, much less required to beat you with it.

Let’s get down to brass tacks here, just so we’re crystal on a few things:

1) If you don’t want to know, don’t ask me. I’m rarely willing to feign being bashful just to make things easy for you, it taxes my patience too much (and as my son will readily tell you “Daddy has only one nerve left”)

2) If you don’t like my answer, that’s much more your problem than mine. I’m not going to lie to make you happy, since that makes me unhappy. You are not required to like it, or even agree with it … but that isn’t going to change the answer.

3) *If you don’t like the music, it’s probably time try a different station. My playlist has considerable variety but I’m not changing the core format any time soon.

4) *For your convenience regular exits are located at the front & rear of the aircraft. For your safety there are also emergency exits located over each wing, near the midsection of the craft. In the event of unexpected decompression please be sure to secure your own oxygen mask before assisting passengers with theirs.

That’s about it I think. I hope you enjoy the flight.

* If you haven’t noticed already, I love analogies and parables. I find them to be very effective for communication and as a bonus, they’re often entertaining. Or at least I try to make them so, your mileage may vary.

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