Citizen of the Month

the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Tag: soup

The Recipe for a Happy and Successful Man

Editor’s Note: I know this post is rather odd.   Look at it as an experiment.

Every man instinctively knows the recipe for a successful and happy life. The recipe is as simple as the easiest homemade mac-n-cheese or a basic chicken soup.

The recipe for a man’s happiness contains three ingredients.  I call them Head, Heart, and Groin (or you can that last ingredient Dick, Cock, Johnson, or “the Big Fella,” whatever term you prefer).

If a man can satisfy the needs of each of these essential ingredients of his Life – Head, Heart, Groin – blending them artfully so they all work together reasonably well, he will be a happy man.

Let’s imagine your life as a soup. We are talking metaphor here, not a real soup, although I wouldn’t be surprised at all if there was an actual “Head, Heart, and Groin” oxtail soup  served at some food cart in the Chinese province of Guangdong.

The happy man is our final completed soup, ready to serve.

Sadly, few men are anywhere near Master Chefs when it comes to their own soups. 99% of men are completely amateur cooks.  They brazenly overpower their soups with one ingredient, act cocky and don’t follow the recipe at all, and get so distracted that they burn the pot, or in extreme cases, even burn down the entire kitchen.

Head, Heart, and Groin.  What does that mean?

We all want to —

1) satisfy our intellectual curiosity (Head)

2) love and be loved (Heart)

3) connect physically with another (a polite way of saying “get laid”) (Groin)

These ingredients are easy to find.   If these items were sold in a typical suburban supermarket, we would find them right on aisle 1, next to the other common kitchen staples, such as Heinz Ketchup, Diet Snapple, and Ring Dings.

If the ingredients are so easy to find, and the soup so easy to make, why do we fail to be happy?  If the answer is as simple as a recipe scribbled on the back of an index card, why are there a million self-help books giving us advice?

Most men have one basic problem.   They were never taught to use a measuring cup, so the soup never turns out right.

In my own case, my soup of Life always turns out over-salted, too spicy, or bland.

It’s not that I’m lazy or stupid. I’m working on perfecting my soup all the time, trying new methods and techniques, even adjusting the amounts depending on the life situation.  I just can’t seem to get my soup to taste right.

When I am alone in the house, I over-think every move and action.  My soup is mostly Brain.   It is like I have created a matzoh ball soup with a giant matzoh ball plopped right in the middle of the bowl, allowing no room for the broth.  The matzoh ball absorbs the liquid, and the dish can hardly be called a soup anymore.

This does not create happiness.  Too much Brain makes a bad soup.

One of the reasons I am writing this post right now is because I’m procrastinating from “real” work.  I cannot think today. My mind won’t rest.  I feel like one big brain, with my body irrelevant, and my body doesn’t like it at all.  I just want to take a nap.

When I leave my house, I tend to experiment with my recipe, hoping to adjust the balance of the three ingredients, striving for that perfect soup, and a happy Life.  I do this as a necessity, knowing that Brain soup will never make you friends.   But as an only child, I have always felt somewhat uncomfortable with others.  I think I also have some co-dependency issues, as you can from five years worth of posts about my relationship with Sophia.  When I connect with others, both in real life and online, my soup becomes heavy on the emotion and schmaltz — Heart.

At first, a Heart-heavy soup seems like a perfect recipe for relationships, but too much heart is like too much salt or chicken fat, or in the case of the matzoh ball soup, a matzoh ball that wasn’t molded correctly, so sits in the soup all soggy, crumbling like the New York Jets in this year’s championship game at the mere touch of the spoon.

A Heart-heavy soup is more edible than the Brain-heavy soup, but most people would pass on it the second time.  It gives you heart-burn.   Men who approach life with too much Heart frequently grow irrational, even crazy.  They are rarely happy.  When you see me on Twitter getting petty with you, you know what type of soup I am preparing in my kitchen.

The third ingredient for a man’s happiness is very important, although we sometimes keep this hidden from view, like MSG in a Chinese restaurant.   Without getting into too many of the details, there are specific personal reasons why I’ve been overcompensating my soup with Groin.    Have you noticed how many of my blog posts are all Groin, with little Head or Hearth?  I don’t intend this to be the case.  I just sometimes let the soup kettle boil and boil with too much Groin inside the pot until it is practically jumping off the stove

Some men enjoy being all-Groin.  In matzoh ball soup terms, their soup contains two round matzoh balls, and the matzoh balls can be quite tasty, but the soup is absolutely bland, as if the chef forgot to add anything else to the broth.

I frequently make this type of Groin-oriented soup online, especially in my blog posts, but rarely in real life.  I would be happier if I added more Groin to my real-life soup, and more Brain to my virtual version.

So, there you have it.  The three simple ingredients, the recipe to a man’s happiness.

Of course, I struggle, just like the rest of you, in creating the perfect soup.  My soup is always too much of this, or too little of that.

Being a Master Chef in Life is a difficult task.

The Soup

“Chicken noodle!” called out the counter man in a loud deep voice.

The father went to the counter, took the bowl of soup, and carried it to the plastic orange booth where his five year old daughter was waiting.   He slid the soup in front of her, and her eyes showed surprise at the size of the bowl; it was bigger than her head!  She zipped up her winter jacket.  A cold blast would shoot in from the street each time a new customer entered and exited the deli, and she was cold.

Inside, the speakers played Christmas music.  “Winter Wonderland.”  Outside, two teenage boys were fighting in the alleyway between Crazy Chicken and Rite-Aid.  They were so heavily layered with clothes that they seem like chunky members of the Pillsbury Doughboys Fight Club.

The father and daughter were ignoring the real world outside.   It was time for soup.   He was from India and wore a Yankee cap.   She had bright, jewel-like eyes.

“Let me get you another napkin,” said the father, and went to the counter, leaving his daughter alone with the soup.

She was happy to be left alone, to explore this new delicacy.  Slowly she leaned forward, to peer into the bowl, as gently and respectfully as someone looking down for the first time from the top of the Empire State Building, conscious of the danger.  Her father had promised to take her there soon.  She would enjoy traveling with him on the noisy subway from Queens.

As the deli door opened and the cold jolted in again, the girl became as fearless as a soldier; she peered into the soup without hesitation or further reflection.  The hot rising steam from the soup created a foggy mask around her face and she disappeared from my sight.

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