I consider myself refreshingly uptight. Not to be uptight about this, but people often confuse the condition of being uptight with OCD. Being uptight comes down to two things: honor and self-respect. I love having an 11-hour conversation with a friend. I have a standing “Just a Toothbrush” date with friends, where we meet at the airport and figure out where to go from there. The friends who go with me are also uptight. Each of them show up exactly on time, and it’s the only way we can pull it off. It’s great.
Men need to reclaim “uptight.” Like women with “bossy.”
Being uptight is the most liberating thing for a person, and also the most gentlemanly. People know they can take you at your word.
I was telling it to a female friend the other day, “Men need to reclaim uptight. Like women with ‘bossy.’”
“I know what you mean. I’m uptight.”
“Then let’s all reclaim ‘uptight.’ I’m too uptight for the gender war of ‘bossy.’ Women can be uptight, and men can. I love being uptight. Last week, I emailed friends saying my Christmas party started at 7:30, and we had the tree up at 7:39.”
If you wanted to play bass for James Brown, you had to succumb to his almost satanic tuning methods and double up on strings, because even his strings are uptight.
For my entire twenties, I never once held a job. I did not have office hours. I never took days off. On any given day I had a band staying on my couch (I worked—and still work—in music). Much of that work came in same-day, when someone else dropped out. And I’m still happily the most uptight person I know.
There is this completely false idea of the musician as a lax, lothario, beat-of-their-own-drum type. Musicians are the most upright people in the world. Music is equally tuning and timing. It’s not even the right note if you hit it at the wrong time.
If you wanted to play bass for James Brown, you had to succumb to his almost satanic tuning methods and double up on strings, because even his strings are uptight. There was no room in James Brown’s rehearsal room for a person who tuned their instrument the way they “thought” they should.
And chefs? C’mon! “You might get the impression from the specifics of my less-than-stellar career that all line cooks are wacked-out moral degenerates, dope fiends, refugees, a thuggish assortment of drunks, sneak thieves, sluts and psychopaths.” Anthony Bourdain once said. But when it comes to hiring these people? “When a job applicant starts telling me how Pacific Rim-job cuisine turns him on and inspires him, I see trouble coming. Send me another Mexican dishwasher anytime. I can teach him how to cook. I can’t teach character.”
Here are things I will not stand for because I am uptight: 1) Texts reading, “Did you get my email?”
There is a fantastic book called Daily Rituals: How Artists Work*, and it is just a compendium of how for all great artists, thinkers and doers: success is linked to being uptight. Beethoven counted 60 coffee beans every morning and ground them by hand. “No city clerk was ever more methodical or orderly,” Charles Dickens’ son said about him. “No humdrum, monotonous, conventional task could ever have been discharged with more business-like regularity than he gave to the work of his imagination and fancy.”
So here, since I’m coming out as uptight here online, let’s just start with online-related uptightness. Here are things I will not stand for because I am uptight:
1) Texts reading, “Did you get my email?”
2) Voicemail that could be texted (I know you have my number).
3) Being tagged in photos that do not depict me, but which are meant to foment a comment or a like about something (Last warning, Mom!)
4) “Can you text me so and so’s email?” (No. But if you email me I can.)
5) Emails from my phone carrier inviting me to read an email from them by logging into my account on their website instead of the one I am already logged into and which can receive their messages.
6) RE: Twitter. I like to think of myself as an early adopter, but that doesn’t mean I want to be informed, by a person standing next to me, what they are about to Tweet.
7) Live-Instagramming anything that isn’t a social revolution. (Put the phone down, blow out your damn birthday candle and, once everyone’s served, do whatever the hell you want).
8) Sharing some suspect, clickbait, wack-job website instead of the YouTube video embedded within. “Guy Clicks on a Video, But What He Learns About His Supposed Friend’s Reading Habits Will Change the Way You Feel About Humanity!”
*Full disclosure: the author, Mason Curey, and I have the same literary agent, Meg Thompson. I don’t want to say Thompson is uptight, but I wouldn’t have chosen to work with someone who is not.