An Evening With A Southern Gentleman (Alternate Title: An Extremely Fascinating and Interesting Life; TheByteWeek Issue 2)

Last night I attended the farewell party of a man from Texas; a restaurant owner living in Vietnam with his wife who will be leaving the country to travel abroad to undergo a Coronary Artery Bypass Surgery. Despite the fact that such an operation has become almost common place, both the man and his wife are rather emotional and as such, I’ve decided to shed some light on this individual’s life. Before I begin, please note that this isn’t a biography and it certainly isn’t a eulogy, it’s merely an article written from the perspective of an outsider looking in. Additionally, do take notice that in the interest of doing things my way, I won’t be using this man’s real name, instead I’ll be using a slight variation of the colloquial John Smith; read on for my observations of a Southern Gentleman: Mr. John Wayne (no relation).

Before I begin, however, I suppose I should give a little background information on Wayne’s childhood; he loved his grandmother dearly and had trouble with his own mother and, at the age of 16, he was kicked out of the house and forced to find his own way in life. Just in case that wasn’t enough, allow me to mention that he also dropped out of high school some time later, as if to add an extra challenge to overcome; one more to a long list. Suffice it to say, he made something of himself and while the dates are muddled up in my own mind, and the numbers flow from every direction at an almost constant rate, at the time of this writing he is (for the most part) content with having lived his life the way that he has. The one thing I must mention is that last night was not my first experience with Wayne, quite the contrary, I had spent another night with him and his wife, and the first time I met him was in his restaurant, as I was leaving after a fantastic dinner. It’s interesting to note that the first time we met, he seemed very uptight and rigid, to the point that I had to ask a fellow patron (who had met Wayne previously) if he was always like this. I got a resounding “Oh yeah,” just to put thing into perspective and to give me an idea of the kind of man Wayne was and is.

To tell the truth though, I didn’t really change my opinion of him until the second time I met him. The problem was that I didn’t know what to make of him; on one hand, his stories and conversational topics seemed to rather proud and self centered and, on the other, he truly had lived an extremely fascinating life, so I couldn’t help but feel that everything he told me was true. If not, then there was a deeply rooted truth that could be found by looking and asking a bit more. Though, an even more troublesome subject to point out is that, whether one believes him or not, Wayne’s life was and still is a success story; he had started out on the path of life with nothing and he had spent his entire life building himself something of a personal empire. He has succeeded at almost any business he has set his mind to and when it comes to cultivating personal relationships, he is a charmer first and foremost. Even I, with all my skepticism, couldn’t help but feel overcome with his presence; not because it was overpowering, quite the contrary because his presence is actually very warm and welcoming, when you spend some more time with him, of course.

My problem with success stories, however, is the same problem that people have with movies like Rocky or The Karate Kid; one moment you’ve got nothing. You’re at the bottom, trying your hardest just to survive, and the next minute you’re literally on top of the world and all there is to show for your improvement is a quick montage. It’s too obvious and straightforward and, when you’ve heard enough of them, you know how they’ll end making them even less interesting. The fact is that I (and we, of course) don’t spend enough time fully appreciating how hard a person has to work to overcome their own demons. We don’t appreciate the sacrifices that a person has to make to insure that their future (not to mention their family’s future) is secure and is not going to burn up in a spectacular fashion and, luckily for everyone involved, meeting people like Wayne helps fix this problem. The thing about Wayne is that, yes, he is a little rough around the edges and, yes, he is proud and, yes, he is definitely rigid; the fact is, however, that he had to spend years conditioning and adapting himself to compensate for the hardships he’s faced and, more importantly, he has earned the right to be those things. Any human being that has lived a life like Wayne has the right to be proud of their accomplishments, and that’s exactly what he is.

I must mention that this is TheByteWeek, meaning that there really is no moral to the story; not for anyone reading anyway. I spent an evening attending a Southern Gentleman’s farewell party, and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. Spending time in Wayne’s company, tonight, helped round everything together; all of his stories came together in a rather cathartic way and, tonight, I came to a very simple conclusion: John Wayne has lived an extremely fascinating life, and I hope that he will be able to share his experiences with others in the future; not only as a method of learning, but also because it really doesn’t hurt to have another success story in this world (assuming that people actually listen and pay attention, that is) which is, quite frankly another very positive point of view to recognize. That being said, I wish him a quick and smooth recovery, and I hope that he continues on living a fascinating and interesting life, keeping his positive outlook on life, and, most importantly, I hope he keeps his “Try-everything-and-don’t-complain-about-not-if-you-haven’t” attitude.

As always, this has been your Admin; comment, subscribe, and criticize, and DO remember! Always look on the BYTE side of life!

-EK

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