Sunday, March 15, 2009

Lender’s Choice?

1985. 5th grade @ P.S. 398, Walter Weaver Elementary School in Brooklyn, NY. I’m maxin’ and relaxin’ in the schoolyard with my homies. We just wrapped up another intense game of “Flies Up” or Tag or whatever the hell we were doing, and we are all famished (the games we created as kids with a little blue rubber ball were absolutely ingenious; hand ball, Booty’s Up, Flies Up, Suicide, etc). I remember having a ham and cheese bagel in my bag and I proceeded to unearth my delicious bagel goodness in an attempt to masticate (which I try to do at least twice a day). Now, anyone with half a brain knows better than to pull food out in front of friends in grade school - someone is surely going to ask you for some. Tic Tacs, Lemon heads or any other noise generating vittles are better transported in your front shirt pocket as to avoid alerting your compatriots that you may be Sustenance Bearer for the day (“No my brother, you got to get your own!”) So now the whole crew is looking at me like I am the messiah at the last supper and they are all asking that I alleviate their peasant hungers with my magical, never ending bagel. After breaking off the fourth or fifth piece and handing out the rations like Jesus taught me to, I look down in contempt at the paltry sliver remaining for my personal consumption. Wholly incensed by the bagel carcass these vultures left me with (notice the blame transfer), I literally lobbed the remainder into the neighboring yard. Everyone enjoyed that bagel that day but me . . . and I was forced to wait a whopping 3 hours before lunch to try and masticate again (a nooner if you will).

So why did I throw the remaining morsel away? A tiny piece of ham would’ve certainly been better than nothing at all, but I was 10 years old and that was how I responded to tough decisions (I threw bagels over fences). More importantly, why didn’t I just say “no” to these commoners and tell them to get their own? Some folk would have eaten the whole damn thing without batting an eyelash, while their friends lay famished or only given out a sliver or two and called it a day. I was raised to share but my benevolence was to my detriment in that instance. I guess my self-preservation mechanisms hadn’t developed as yet. Or had it?

Like the skunk, I later came to realize that my perceived flaws can easily serve as my self preservation mechanisms. Although I lost out in Bagel-Gate, I am CERTAIN there were far more selectively non-retained memories where I had no rations available but dined quite comfortably on someone else’s vittles. Flash forward 10 years to an infamous pork chop story circulating amongst my friends in which the number of chops I allegedly consumed from my boys kitchen compounds exponentially with every retelling. I have and will continue to vehemently deny said gorging but dammit if those smothered chops weren’t mf’ing delicious! Something tells me I would not have had carte blanche had it not been for my prior gratuitous acts. PAY IT FORWARD WORKS FOR ME!!

Do we have the ability to change our personality? I have always considered my character to be learned and discounted any possibilities that it may be innate. My explanations for any resemblance in behavior to that of my parents dismissed all genetic predispositions and was quite ignorant; My folks are the software engineers and I am the brand new, overpriced Macbook. My parents, along with my surrounding environment, govern all my action and since they can only upload what they know, my operating system will reflect that knowledge by default, hence the similarities. As to why you can have two computers (people) from the same programmer (parents / environment) with completely different operating systems (life choices) occur, no one can ever experience the same set of occurrences as another simultaneously which is what causes variability in outcome. Although the environment seems controlled, it is not. Our actual (versus artificial) intelligence varies from person to person, as will the respective results. And thus my Nobel Prize winning, bulletproof theory on why ALL personality traits were acquired. Correction: that WAS my bullet resistant hypothesis until one of my boys posed the 64 thousand dollar question; “What about curiosity?” Even newborn babies have a natural inclination to insert a metal fork into an electrical socket just to see what could happen. Who taught them that?” Shit! I had no retort for that one. Taking newly acquired information into account, I had to reevaluate and maybe even amend my stance (and for an acquired know-it-all, that is quite painful).

It can be quite cumbersome to first identify what makes you tick, then figure out what can or cannot be changed, and finally augment those personality traits that don’t work for you and probably everyone else around you (insert serenity prayer here). I personally am forever rooted in the “What chu talkin’ ‘bout Mr. Drummond?” phase of my life. This constant state of questioning / awareness can be quite unnerving mainly because I have not accepted the next stage of growth – ACTION. Whoa now. Baby steps Crazed Afrykan, baby steps.

4 comments: said...

Good blog.

Alf said...


Alana said...

As usual Alf you get people to think on a different level. Interestingly enough I find changing how I deal with people so much easier than making the necessary changes I need to make in myself. Keep the blog alive!

Shante said...

It makes you wonder how 4 female children who grew up with the same set of parents could differ so much (i.e., me and my 3 biological siblings). Some would say the environment was the same but I beg to differ. With each new child the environment changed. So that even the first computer that the programmers produced have already entered an entirely different environment that was already there.

As for the metal fork question... Parents taught the baby that. The child who is continuously close to the socket and has seen many a metal prong inserted by said parents who then have the audacity to leave a metal prong in reach? What else would you expect?

At any rate, this article reminds me of many that I've read in Psychology Today by the slew of free-lancers that blanket the magazine. ;-)

Keep writing.

Post a Comment

We Reinvented the remix.