Unwanted Balance

I went to the Black Tomato yes­ter­day, which was a small restau­rant with a decent atmos­phere (though I think it would have been bet­ter at night), which served jazz along with your meals. You could pur­chase jazz albums from the side of the restau­rants, and numer­ous por­traits of jazz greats were hung near the top of the walls. The meals were pret­ty pricey; the sand­wich­es cost over 10 dol­lars, and the 7oz. filet mignon was $24.95. I was real­ly con­sid­er­ing the filet mignon since I so rarely get a chance to go out and eat at a nice restau­rant, but I decid­ed that I had noth­ing to cel­e­brate. I went with a flank sand­wich, which had thin­ly cut strips of mar­i­nat­ed steak with sauteed onions, and melt­ed cheese, baked on French bread. The put a sort of sweet mus­tard with it, that gave it a spicy, juicy taste, which was excel­lent. I had to get a pint of Strongbow, since they did­n’t have Double Diamond. In total it cost me about $20.00.

It was com­i­cal to see what kind of man­ners peo­ple brought to the table. You could tell who was an exec­u­tive by the way they broke their bread, or you could tell who was a admin­is­tra­tive assis­tant by the way they cleaned their teeth with their tongue. I won­dered if their man­ners were a result of their pro­fes­sion, or their upbring­ing.

Sometimes you can tell what kind of fam­i­ly some­one has come from, by the kind of man­ners they have. However, there are always excep­tions, as some par­ents with excep­tion­al din­ner pro­fes­sion­al­ism don’t much care to impart this grace on their chil­dren. It remind­ed me of what one could tell about one’s par­ents, depend­ing on what one’s chil­dren are like.

Before I knew bet­ter, I would assume that one’s chil­dren were a reflec­tion on what the par­ents were like. Of course, I did­n’t even real­ize that I’m not much any­thing like my par­ents, being the igno­rant per­son that I was.

I find it odd that Aaron and I seem to come from very, very dif­fer­ent fam­i­lies, yet we are so sim­i­lar in mind­set and world view. I don’t believe that he expe­ri­enced a ter­ri­ble child­hood, though I believe he was in a worse sit­u­a­tion than me. He was able to deal with it very well, much bet­ter than me at least, per­haps with an intel­li­gence that was born in him. I learned most of what I know through pain, so I’m not sure how he learned the same things that I did.

Some peo­ple I know are very much like their par­ents, in intel­li­gence as well as igno­rance. Yet some peo­ple I know are noth­ing like their par­ents. In these cas­es, how­ev­er, the child is always smarter than the par­ents, nev­er the oth­er way around. It’s like an evo­lu­tion­ary process, the way males are usu­al­ly taller than their father.

Sometimes I wish I could find out how peo­ple become the way they are. What expe­ri­ence could make one racist? What could hap­pen to make one kind, when their par­ents are cold? For the peo­ple I look up to, I’ve always asked them many ques­tions (too many, I sup­pose) about how they learned what they know. It always seems to be a ran­dom answer, nev­er some­thing that’s con­sis­tent.

It reminds me of a twin study. Usually twins are extreme­ly close genet­i­cal­ly, so sci­en­tists study twins to see how genet­ics affect psy­chol­o­gy, as twins usu­al­ly share very com­mon traits and per­son­al­i­ties. In this study, two twins are sep­a­rat­ed at birth, and when they are adults after being brought up in very dif­fer­ent fam­i­lies, the only trait they seem to have in com­mon is their zeal­ous­ness for being neat. When asked why he is so neat, one twin responds, “Well, my moth­er was always so clean, that she forced me to be clean as well”. His broth­er, when asked the same ques­tion, replies, “Well, my moth­er was so dirty, that it forced me to be clean”.

I sup­pose that I real­ly do believe that 50% of our per­son­al­i­ty traits are bred in us, and 50% of them are a result of our envi­ron­ments. That seems to be the con­sen­sus with psy­chol­o­gists today. I believe that some peo­ple are unbal­anced in this respect; they learn every­thing from upbring­ing, or every­thing from expe­ri­ence.

I just wish I knew how (un)balanced I am.

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