humphrey bogart

The intonation of my father Clyde’s speech and character were infused with the essence of two distinctive worlds: part old school New Yorker and part shipyard worker. Clyde was born, bred and raised in a powerful family in Brooklyn, New York. As a kid and under an alias, he had worked the docks of the shipyard that his grandfather founded, so that he might learn about the business and become friends with the men, without their being aware of his family connections.

He was 6’2” tall, barrel chested, and had the posture of a marine, although he was never in the armed forces. He was a Man’s Man, brimming with self-confidence and at total and complete ease in his skin. He was powerful, generous, open, curious, spontaneous, witty, gregarious and all with his de rigeur cigar planted firmly between his teeth. His DNA reeked of being a New Yorker; bold, brash, the best of the best, although without being cocky. He was King of all he surveyed and everyone wanted to bask in the umbra of his magnanimity; the women all wanted to sleep with him and the men wanted to be his best friend.

He wasn’t classically handsome rather, he had a strong resemblance to Humphrey Bogart, which only added to his appeal. He exuded the good breeding and manners that one would expect of a millionaire’s grandson coupled with street smarts: cunning and smooth. He was a man who had never smelled fear or defeat and was sure of his place in this world… front row center.

Clyde had a plethora of sayings that peppered his speech. There were the ones that came straight from the docks, my all time favorite being, “I wouldn’t piss on his leg if it was on fire!”

And some that could be categorized as truisms, describing life as he saw and lived it. One in particular has played a large part in my life and is the catalyst behind this story,

“Walk in like you own the place kid, and no one will stop you!”

I have conjured up this phrase and used it to cross thresholds into unknown situations, board rooms, parties, job interviews, negotiations, anything that required that I take the next step armed with the self-confidence of The Gods. I have pulled it out in storms when I needed a boost and in calm seas, when I was formulating a plan to do it “My Way,” and wouldn’t take no for an answer. It is my suit of armor although it is not constricting, rather its essence is one of absolute freedom of thought, word and deed. Of standing in my Power and owning it, not with bravado or flashiness, but with the kind of style that oozes from the inside out and cannot be forged.

I have been thinking a lot about Clyde lately and in particular about the ramifications and positivity of the phrase, “Walk in like you own the place kid.” I have been appreciating his unusual parenting style as he took me to places and introduced me to people who dwell and thrive “way-oh-way” outside of the mainstream. He opened my eyes, mind and heart to the whole world, not just the class that breaths rarified air, but all the stratas of air that are available for us to sample, while appreciating the gifts that each offers.

As I type my thoughts, I am feeling a tremendous amount of pride and love surging forth from Clyde in his non-physical playground. The headiness of his love is mingling with the love, admiration and appreciation that I feel for myself. I have lived what one friend described as “a very big life.” Big in emotion, big in adventure, big in never following the rules but rather, heeding the call of my “True North,” no matter the consequences. I have never blended, which come to find out is a blessing. I used to think otherwise, looking at those folks who seemed so at home in “normal.” Who had their lives mapped out from childhood, who didn’t make waves. But hell, what fun is there in that? After all, we didn’t come here to blend, to regurgitate, to vacillate, to legislate, to obfuscate, to stand outside of our “true nature” and allow for anything less. We came to boldly and confidently stride forth, to Create from the lofty perch of our unique vantage point. In short, we came to

“Walk This Earth Like We Own The Place!” 

And when we do, when we are true to our intentions, our passions, our desires, there isn’t one person or a million, who can distract or dissuade us from our heading of True North. This stance of Being In Our Power feels like we are breathing rarified air, but in this case, it’s the air of Our Personal, Singular Strata of Knowing and Intention. Now I ask you Creator, what is sexier than that?

I must be off now, to stride forth on this earth, like I own the place. To plant my flag on each spot that my feet touch, my mind reaches, my hands caress, my lips kiss. To take ownership of each unique experience, in its fullest and most complete capacity. To firmly, eternally, and unabashedly embrace my place in the unfolding and artful becoming of this, my precious life…~*

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