How to Gain Admiration & Respect Immediately
Recently I was in a convenience store picking up some gum. While wandering down an aisle, I was blown away when I saw they had a DVD of the 1970 movie “C.C. & Company” for sale! It was only $1.99! $1.99! It was basically the same price as the gum.
So I grabbed it and went straight to the register.
Most guys my age credit Sylvester Stallone’s “Rocky” as the movie that inspired them when they were in their early teens. But before “Rocky,” it was the movie “C.C. & Company” starring Joe Namath that started me on my quest to become the coolest kid in New Jersey.
Joe Namath was the superstar quarterback of the Super Bowl champion
New York Jets at the time. He was the ultimate celebrity playboy
athlete and when I saw him in the opening scene of the film, I found
my inspiration. For years the opening scene of that film influenced
my life, for better or worse.
The film opens with Namath walking into a supermarket. He strolls
down an aisle, stops and loads his cart with several cans of
vegetables. Then as he continues up and down the aisles, it becomes
obvious he is only pretending to shop. He does this so he can go
unnoticed while he assembles a sandwich for himself, which he eats
during the scene. When he finishes his sandwich, the only thing he
buys is pack of gum (hmm… maybe that’s why I still find myself always
buying gum). Anyway, he then exits the store, hops on his black and
white zebra-striped chopper and drives off onto the open road. At the
time, this was the coolest thing I ever saw.
I thought, “That’s the way to rip off a sandwich.” At least that’s
what I thought on the surface. The underlying belief was, “If I was
like Joe Namath, I’d be cool and everyone would love me!” I hopped
on my bike and raced to the Styertown Shopping Center. I pulled up in
front of the Grand Union grocery store, laid my bike down on the
sidewalk, walked in, grabbed a cart and got started. I was going to
be just like Joe Namath. Only difference, I was caught in the act.
When my father asked, “What the fu*k were you thinking?!”, I was too
embarrassed to tell him the truth, so I answered with my famous last
words: “I don’t know.”
But for some reason, this didn’t stop me. My Namath debacle was only
the beginning of endless desperate attempts at emulating people I saw
on TV. Here’s a short list: there was the matching headband and
sleeveless t-shirt combo I saw the lead singer of the band “Loverboy”
wear in their music videos. I started smoking cigarettes, hoping that
would deliver me into the cool lifestyle promised in the ad. I even went
so far as to smoke More Slims believing they’d make me Telly
Savalas - “Kojak” cool. All they did was make me nauseous.
Then there was the time I tore out an underwear ad depicting a handsome model sporting a feathered style and brought it to my barber. I was convinced having that haircut would change
everything. When the barber was done and spun me around in the chair,
for the big reveal in the mirror, what a bummer.
I just looked like
me, only with a feathered haircut. Oh, and the film, “Rocky?”
Thanks to Stallone, I was downing raw eggs and protein powder
convinced that bigger biceps would magically bring admiration. I
still can’t remember what movie inspired to play up my New Jersey
accent, in hopes I would be mistaken for a tough guy from New York,
but I did that, too.
If my humiliation can help others, then revealing this picture is worth it.
All this effort failed and I still felt inadequate. So, I redoubled
my efforts. I could not see that by trying to be like someone else,
I’d never measure up. The only results I got were bad, leading me
straight to the Pearl Harbor brig. Alone and reeking of self-pity I
cried out, “Why do I have to be me?” I was convinced I failed at my
attempts to be more like those respected, ruggedly cool and
sophisticated heroes I tried to emulate.
Just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse, I was confronted by
United States Marine Corps Master Gunnery Sergeant Mike Urton. He
asked me a simple question.
“You know what you are, Fusaro?”
I couldn’t answer, I had no idea, and I said nothing.
“A phony FU*K!”
With these three little words he knocked the wind out of my sails.
Although in a way that may seem rude and hurtful to some, Master Gunnery Sgt. Urton
brought me relief. What he said was true. He knew it, and I knew it.
I wasn’t fooling anyone, and as embarrassing as that was to come to
terms with, I felt at peace accepting that fact. Finally, I no longer
had to pretend to be anyone else.
As inadequate as I thought I was,
it felt so much better than constantly trying to be someone I wasn’t.
At last I could just be me, Darrell Fusaro, the one person I could be
Now it’s clear why I admired Joe Namath. It was the same thing the
reviewers of the film criticized him for, saying “Namath was no actor!
He just waltzes through the film as himself.” Ironically, that is
what made him so special. He was just being himself as God intended.
Man, I wish I realized that sooner.
So when all else fails, be yourself. You’re perfect for the part!
Around the time I met Master Gunnery Sgt. Urton, a friend of mine gave me a copy of, "The Man in the Glass." I have a copy of it in my wallet to keep me from veering off course. It sums it up perfectly.
The Man in the Glass
When you get what you want in your struggle for self,
And the world makes you king for a day,
Just go to the mirror and look at yourself
And see what that man has to say.
For it isn’t your father or mother or wife
Whose judgment upon you must pass;
The fellow whose verdict counts most in your life
Is the one staring back in the glass.
Some people may think you a straight-shooting chum
And call you a wonderful guy,
But the man in the glass says you’re only a bum
If you can’t look him straight in the eye.
He’s the fellow to please, never mind all the rest
For he’s with you clear up to the end,
And you’ve passed your most dangerous, difficult test
If the man in the glass is your friend.
You may fool the whole world down the pathway of years
And get pats on the back as you pass,
But your final reward will be heartache and tears
If you’ve cheated the man in the glass.
- Author Unknown
The original copy my good friend, Mike Dugan, gave me in 1986.