John Y’s Musings from the Middle: Putting My Foot Down

Sometimes you just have to be tough and put your foot down.

About 25 years ago I became a regular and admiring reader of Business First magazine. I have read it loyally ever since, which is another 25 years.

One of my favorite sections is the “In Person” section that tells about a person in the Louisville community and humanizes him or her with personal details while also explaining their professional arc and future plans. And there is a box off to the side where you get the “personal stats” about the person. Their family, favorite books, favorite movies, what music they have on their iPod, who inspired them, hobbies, favorite TV shows and so on. It’s a lot of stuff, trust me.

Well, here’s the thing. I don’t like admitting this because it sounds kind of vain and probably is. It is vain. But each week for 25 years I read this section and wonder if Business First might do one of those In Person pieces about me sometime soon and I run through each of those questions and answer them myself. And it takes more than just a minute or two.

Well…take 52 weeks (issues) a year and multiply it by 25 years and you have 1300 consecutive weeks of rejection— where not only did I feel slighted by not getting asked to do the In Person section but I wasted several minutes each week imagining how I’d answer those personal stat questions.

jyb_musingsNot all of the answers were true, of course. I’d have to balance out the answers so people would be impressed with TV shows I watched, music I listened to and books I was reading –even if I wasn’t reading anything at all. I certainly wasn’t going to say “Nothing” when asked “What books are you reading.” I at least would put down a couple of best sellers and maybe a fiction book or two and probably one classic, like, I don’t know–the Odyssey or something fancy from a long time ago so people will read it and say, “Wow. That John Brown guy is pretty learned compared to the books other profiled people pretend that they are reading.” Everybody knows they are exaggerating about some of it.

If people were completely honest they’d sound like someone who doesn’t deserve to be profiled in In Person because they wouldn’t be any more interesting sounding than you are me. Maybe worse. Think about it. What if they answered it honestly and said,

“Books: “None so far this year but skim the newspaper from time to time. I may read something next year or listen to it on tape. Nah. Probably not. I do enjoy browsing bookstores and read the covers so I don’t waste money buying books I won’t ever read;

Favorite TV: Weather Channel and Girls on HBO;

You get the idea.

In my case I was going to pretend I understood opera if they asked me and say something like, “Yes, I enjoy opera a great deal. Especially the signing. Much of it is sung in Italian, in case your readers didn’t know. I’m reading the Odyssey right now, too.”

I would have had to lie about what music I listen to as well. I probably would have said classical and country (It is Louisville, KY). I couldn’t say “Pearl Jam and the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Steely Dan , US3 and Mos Def. And, oh, I like to sing out loud sometimes when I’m in the car by myself. But only sound good when I’m singing to James Taylor. I just don’t have a voice like Eddie Vedder or Anthony Kedeis.”

If I answered like that people would think I was nuts because 50 year olds aren’t supposed to act like that. Even though they do. They are getting older (we are, not “they”) and want to hold on to a few youthful things. Just because it makes us feel better and, well, old dogs struggle with learning new tricks. And that applies to people too. At least those over about 45 years old.

Anyway, after waiting 1300 weeks and thinking through all my real favorite things and pretend favorite things (to impress others), I am giving up this game. I am tired of waiting and feeling rejected

Dang it! I’m just done with the whole thing. It’s over. I have decided tonight I am not going to prepare for the In Person profile piece in Business First any more.
And if Business First ever calls and asks me to do the In Person profile, which they won’t, I’m going to tell them they had their chance–1300 times and I didn’t make the cut and now they can’t have me even if they want me. That I am going to do a In Person profile piece with another magazine and say I am not at liberty to give them the name. (That would be a lie, of course, but give them a taste of their own medicine.) If they asked me later I’ll tell them the big national magazine went under the week they were doing my long and big profile.

Well, it feels good! I feel free. Liberated!

And kinda feel like celebrating by watching an episode of the Real Housewives of New Jersey. Or an episode of Girls on HBO. I really like both those shows. And don’t have any hobbies anyway.


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