I Don’t Know If You Know This About Me, but I’ve spent my time thus far on this planet collecting as many intriguing nuggets of wisdom as possible. Knowledge is power, and with great power comes great responsibility. It is, therefor, my responsibility to share and pay forward as much wisdom as possible. As the Talmud says “When you teach your son, you teach your son’s son.” So I’ll share as much as I can as often as I can.

My parents kept an impressive liquor cabinent in the house, a fact I was almost entirely unaware of until I got to college and discovered alcohol. I was far too busy in high school for any of that. Dad was a scotch man, and though the everyday scotch was Dewer’s White Label, up in the back on the top were always a few of the Glens. Glenmorangie, Glenfarclas, Glenlivet, Glen Garioch, Glenfiddich, you know…the Glens.


Now – there are many benefits of being raised by an older sister and a mother who is the primary disciplinarian. I am, among other things, a great shopping companion. I instinctively carry bags and open doors. I have valid and reasonable things to say about fashion, and also know when not to share those things. Also – I am a planner. Many would debate whether this is a good or bad thing. It is unquestionably, however, who I am. And for those of you in my life now who think you are the first to determine this about me, My Friend and Yours, Andy Martin has been calling me “Plan Nerd” since somtime after Y2K and before 9-11. This is a much better nick name than many others in college got from Andy or myself. A mutual acquaintance in a social organization we were both a part of was “The Fun Sponge” because she could suck the fun out of any room. There was also “Rats” who was called such because her breath often smelled as if she had just recently been chewing on rats. “76” was another one we knew. He earned many nicknames, but this one came after he told a very long and very uncomfortable story about how he paid $75 for a happy ending at a gentleman’s club and still had to pay a dollar for the jukebox. Another time, this gem of a human, 76, answered a phone call from his girlfriend while he was in his car cheating on his girlfriend. I’ll spare the details, as I wish I hadn’t ever heard them, but he stayed on the phone while “not-girlfriend” was in the act. There were good nick names as well. “Hot Kathy” was a girl named Kathy who was hot. (Our wordplay wasn’t always super duper clever, just most of the time) And “Where the Wild Things Are” was a girl we were both “interested in” who had all the characters from the book tattooed everywhere. Neither of us ever saw all of them, but we did want to go “Where the Wild Things Are.” Andy and I were both called “Captain Peer Pressure” at times, in part because of one of our favorite bar games called “Prove It.” (Think “That’s what she said,” but funnier, and often with a much more entertaining outcome. Also – more interesting to say, as you can linger on the “it,” as encouragement.) Try it. It’s fun. “Prove Iiiiiiiiiitttttt!!!” All of these nicknames were used around said individuals, with the exception of “Rats” and “The Fun Sponge.” But I digress.

I am a plan nerd. This also makes me a pretty decent host. Come to one of my dinner parties and try and tell me otherwise. Everyone who is any good at anything started by learning. I’ve learned many important lessons from many important people. Here are a few.

The whole family was over, probably for Thanksgiving or something, and I was getting drink orders for the guests. I was young and always on alert for ways to make mom and dad proud. My Uncle Welles has worn many hats in his day. In addition to Uncle, Father, and Mentor, he has skills in carpentry, banking, and general awesomness. I was always very excited whenever he came by. Uncle Welles wanted scotch, and I knew big events called for the good stuff. Usually the stuff all the way on top. On this particular day was the 18 year single malt Glenmorangie. Always wanting everyone to have just what they want, I offered a few ice cubes for his drink.

He looked at me in that uncle way. It was a look of concern and a little confusion. Had I done something wrong?

When my parents gave me this look, I worried if I was in trouble or about to be. When Uncles give this look, its seems to mean “Oh, dear, we have so many things to teach you.”

“Jeffrey,” he said. “A wonderful, dedicated, and focused group of people spent 18 long years removing all the water from this fine fine creation. We shouldn’t dare put any back in.”



Next – Also Thanksgiving. Uncle Mark this time. A year or two prior I had taken over turkey carving duties. This was a responsibility I took very seriously. Thanksgiving was always the biggest event of the year in the Newman household. Prep would begin days ahead of time, and the day of was always amazing. 20-30 family members crammed around several tables side by side. We’d move the couches out of the living room to fit everyone in. This was the one day a year my father cooked. (This has changed in his semi-retirement, but my whole childhood, the one or two nights a month he was in charge of dinner would usually mean KFC.) Cutting the turkey was the last event before the meal began, so it’s importance was magnified. As people were making it to the table, and I was filling the serving platter with steamy, juicy, incredibly fragrant, delicious turkey. It was as I was finishing up that Uncle Mark wandered by my carving station. “Let me show you something you’ll love,” he said as he reached towards my serving platter.

You know how they say never to try and pet a dog while they are eating, for fear they will instinctively bite in defense of their food? A similar warning should be delivered to anyone reaching towards delicious foods within proximity of fat kids. Especially when they wield large carving knives. My brain thankfully overtook my instincts and I did not chop off my uncle’s fingers.
He reached for a piece of skin (now he was pushing his luck), grabbed a juicy piece of dark meat, wrapped the skin around it, and a few shakes of salt later, it was gone. “That,” he said “is the best thing about Thanksgiving.”

I tried it. . .

OK. Listen. If God or Gaia or Buddha or whomever you do or do not believe in were to put together amuse-bouches, this would, without question, be on the plate.

If I had to choose between those bite sized morsels, and everything else in the oeuvre of Thanksgiving, it would not be a difficult choice.

If anyone else ever offers to carve the turkey going forward, I would fight them, for fear it would inhibit my access to this wonderment,. . . and J-Bird  does not get a pass just because I gave him life.

Uncle Mark said this was the best food at Thanksgiving, and not only was he right, I was mad at everyone with whom I’ve shared Thanksgiving for not bringing this to my attention earlier…

Fat kid side note:

Most people burn emotional calories worrying about the fat and calories they have consumed.
Fat kids burn emotional calories worrying about the fat and calories they haven’t.

There are so many important lessons I have learned from so many important people. These were two. More to come, and thanks for tuning in. If you liked this – share it with someone important.