Thursday, August 03, 2006

Analyze This

Within five minutes of sitting down at a dive bar on 9th Avenue, I was told by the bartender yesterday night that I should "go with the flow more" and "stop over analyzing so much."

This really shouldn't have been surprising. I've been hearing this refrain for as long as I can remember. I guess what stands out for me is just how briefly it took this man I've never met to size me up. Maybe there's really something to this.

I don't know how else to explain it other than that my brain just doesn't let me work in "black or white" and "yes or no" terms. When I was 17, a junior reserve on the High School's Varsity soccer team, Coach motioned to the referee he wanted to make a substitution. It was a cold day and he looked down the bench and called out to me.

"Are you ready?" For some reason, my response took the following form.

"Well, I'm not loose. So I'll stretch out a bit. But if you want to go ahead and call for the sub, by the time there's a stoppage in the play, I'll be set to go."

That moment stuck with me too. It's not in my nature to "just answer the [expletive deleted] question!"

All he wanted was a "yeah, Coach. I'm ready." But, for some reason, I see shades in positions everywhere. I didn't even give this bartender last night a straight response when he asked "if I liked having money in my pocket." I think I first replied in asking him relative to who and what.

The strange thing is that I am truly not trying to be evasive. Not at all. In that moment, my head raced through which of the hundred different responses to that query seemed most appropriate and germane when a simple "yes" would have sufficed. To prove his point, he pointed at a stranger down a few stools and barked the following toss up.

"Beethoven or the Beatles?"

How can you even begin to answer this? Musical genius? Influence on other artists? Personal preference? Contemporary significance? Or, as grizzled postal worker succinctly put it.

"Neither. They both should have been shot."


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