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I Y’am What I Y’am

June 27, 2021

Those of you from the 1950’s and 1960’s surely remember Popeye The Sailor and his classic line, “I y’am what I y’am!” To you millennials and others who are experientially challenged, I offer my apologies. Popeye was a classic cartoon but moreover a spokesman for iconoclasts everywhere back then. I was one of them.

I grew up with Popeye and learned his lingo and attitude well. It has both served me and deterred me throughout my entire life. “I y’am what I y’am” can mean a lot of things but it seems to always exude an attitude that basically says: “Hey, I’m who I am – if you don’t like it, too bad!” It is a form of honesty that I am thankful for learning at an early age. It has kept me true to myself and my beliefs for over 70 years. It has kept my compass straight as well and has kept me moving forward unimpeded by those who would doubt or criticize me to a fault.

However this forerunner of do your own thing has its down sides as well. It can also be met with: “Great but I don’t give a damn!” and “A little self-centered, are we?” Those are the perils of living one’s life with conviction. They can manifest themselves as job offers that never come as well as friendships and romances that are smothered from the first instant. I have been the recipient of all of these and much more. Sometimes being stalwart just doesn’t work in today’s world.

On balance I believe the “I y’am what I y’am” attitude is a healthy one that should be embraced by more people today. As of late, I have seen too many of what we used to call yes men and sycophants cluttering up the political and social landscape. Just going along with everyone else has historically been a non-starter and often a finisher. It’s no different today. Whether it’s millennials who just need to grow a pair or milk-toast geezers who can’t find a pair, Popeye has a few good lessons to be learned.

Over seven decades on I still admire the old sailor for his sand. Through the years, I have even learned to like spinach as well.

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8 Comments
  1. I’ve been told many times that I have a severe case of the Popeye Syndrome, even wrote a blog post about it back in the day. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I have lived a variation of this quote my whole life. I always knew who Popeye was, even long after he was a “thing.”

    People who don’t appreciate who you are, never will. People who see the potential for greatness are who you keep around. But always stay true to yourself. Just tone it down a bit and act more like everyone else when applying for work. Once you have the job, so it to the best of your ability so that you can showcase who you are and be it. If they don’t like it, it’s a poor fit for you and look elsewhere. But always heed Popeye and spinach is delicious!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. That is why, during the years I taught, I always told the students they can do anything they want as long as they’re responsible, treating family and friends respectfully. As long as you listen to your conscience, are honest in your heart, you can reach for the stars.

    Liked by 2 people

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