Oh Anthony Bourdain! My first impression of you was not so good. You struck me as a man’s man—and not someone I could relate to. Then my daughter started watching your TV show No Reservations during her snow days this week, and she wouldn’t even look up at me when I came home from work. I watched an episode to humor her, and I said, “Don’t get any ideas!” during a scene where you drank shot after shot of raki, a homemade Greek drink that’s 45% alcohol. She glared at me and said, “Mom. He’s in THEIR lives.” Right about then I knew it was time to rethink you.
Then I saw how, in Szechuan, you dipped fish into a boiling cauldron of hot chilies, eating it without wincing. And in Korea, you ate the freshly chopped, still-wriggling tentacles of an octopus. In Greece you watched calmly while a local pulled out the intestines of a freshly slaughtered sheep. Then in Egypt you played a hand-slapping game in the desert with Bedouins while they prepared you a sumptuous dinner. Your grace throughout all these activities struck me: I realized, you are a man who doesn’t “argue with reality,” to borrow Eckhart Tolle’s phrase. Wherever you are, whatever new situations you seek out, you maintain curiosity, serenity, no judgment, and like you promise, “no reservations.”
I have a lot to learn from your approach. On a personal level, yesterday I got rattled when I came home and found—on my kids’ third snow day in a row—that they had not even looked at the chore sheet I’d left for them that day. I launched into mind-numbing lecture mode—a perfectly useless approach with teenagers, or anyone for that matter, yes?—rather than resolve it in a calm, productive way. On the other hand, at work this week, when we lost our domain name for dotStaff™ for two days, causing interrupted service for reasons beyond our control, I noticed a lot of our customers already use your approach. Several people said, “No problem! Just let me know when we can approve timesheets!” Clearly they watch your show.
I’m realizing, Tony, that you’re not a man’s man at all. Like my daughter says about you: “he’s really good at what he does.” With your refreshing acceptance of whatever comes your way, I can say with no reservations, you are everybody’s man.