The king of New York


It’s all about pacing.

Call it moderation, call it temperance, call it patience. Call it boring. But I live by it, one of many mantras.

And I dish it out, not because I can take it, but because I can.

Anyway, Biff’s little brother has fled town, this time to New York. Just when things were starting to get interesting, Adam heads off to a new life, with a new job, new place, new girlfriend and new school.

He’s been off his game, but not because small-town kid is overwhelmed with big-city life. Nope, he just threw himself into his work.

Is that any way to live?


Whether prowling Manhattan streets late at night, or driving for after-hours drinks in Birmingham, it’s all about pacing.

I like to enjoy the moment, make it last. I like to savor a good conversation, chewing on words and ideas. When making a four-course meal, I fancy myself as a harried master chef, mentally juggling culinary tasks while physically juggling a pot, a cutting board and five ingredients.

I study pacing. If a movie drags in spots, those scenes probably needed killing. If a friend’s career stalls out, she should push ahead one way or another.

Sometimes, it’s a struggle. The taskmaster in me always wants me to be busy, super-productive. Why sit around when you can read, or clip your nails, or clip your nails and read?

For that matter, why live here? Why not run off to the Spanish countryside, or the wilds of Alaska, or the mountains of Peru?

That same taskmaster nags at me in awkward situations. Why am I still here at this party if I’m bored or annoyed or unhappy? Do I really want to get to know these people any better? Am I leaving early or running away?

Why am I stuck in this job? This return line at the store? This life?

But I am unfazed. My pacing is rock solid.

Some people are swallowed up by the frenzy, whether that pressure comes from bosses or peers or themselves. I don’t want Adam to be swallowed up — I want him to pace himself.

I want him to savor those weekend explorations of countless city neighborhoods. I want him to stockpile story after story about the wonderful characters he meets on the job, in the classroom, on the subway, in the hallway.

Trust me, he’s a happy guy. We should all be so lucky.

Maybe if he steadies himself and keeps burnout at bay, I’ll be a happy guy, too.


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