Friday, January 21, 2011

Swag Like Me

This is a Guest Post. Ricky has been a friend of mine for years. I know him to be someone of sincere intellect and brilliant kindness. He is also a Connoisuer of Confidence and Surveyor of Swag. I asked him to contribute his point of view on my article from last week. I have a feeling you'll like Ricky as much as I do. Enjoy!

Before you read any further, put any preconceived notions you have about “swagger” out of your mind.  I am here to redefine this slippery, and oddly elusive term. When my friend, the charming Lucy, asked me to guest blog on The Fantastic Spatula, I was delighted! I have followed this blog for a year. At the end of a busy week, it is always a delight to sit back with a cop of coffee and enjoy the adventures of Lucy and her friends as they embark to find that flight temptress, magic.

So, I have a question for you: “What is “swag”? Well, frankly I cannot give you a hard-scale definition of this term: it is a cultural phenomenon. I have swag and you have swag! Yes, we do! To some people, “swagger” can be a negative quality, but those who believe this do not fully understand the true nature of swag. We must not confuse cockiness with confidence! I attribute my accomplishments (and life values) to one key equation: Manners + Confidence + Style = Swagger. And, for the record, I don’t like the word “swagger,” so we will call it “swag.” Rolls off the tongue better, I think.

The most common “definition” of swag is any behavior, which shows an air of superiority or insolent disregard of others.  I completely disagree. To be cocky and disrespectful is opposite of swag: it is the anti-swag.

Manners were essential in my upbringing. I am a Southerner. In my neck of the woods, you are trained to speak to everyone. I would not dare walk down my street in Halifax without speaking to my neighbors, or cut past someone without saying, “excuse me.” Doing these things is like breathing to me: So when I moved to Indiana, I continued to be myself and use the manners that my parents instilled in me. Admittedly, some people looked at me as if I was a visitor from Mars, but most thought it was refreshing. I have met a lot of influential people at IU, and a lot of doors were opened simply because I followed the traditions of my youth. My manners were the first element that set me apart from my peers.

Now, I am a Hoosier. IU is the school of Meg Cabot, Tom French, Kevin Kline, Will Shorts, Joshua Bell, and Jared the Subway Guy, just to name a few prestigious graduates. To be a Hoosier is synonymous with being confident. There is a saying: “You can tell a Hoosier, but you can’t tell him much.” It is that kind of confidence that embodies the culture in Bloomington, IN. Students here are taught to be distinguished, self-assured, and proud of the their heritage. They are taught to “Live an epic adventure.” This unwavering self-confidence is the second element that sets me apart from my peers.

As for style, well, that has been my thing for a long time. Now, my friends in high school will tell you differently. Why I wore that pooka shell necklace for 3 years, I have not idea! But, I am observant. I knew the trends. I’ve never been one for following the crowd. When everyone was wearing oversized jerseys, pants that were way too big, and sneakers, I was wearing a black JCrew jacket, a white spread-collar shirt, a grey tie, and Third-Eye Oxfords. My motto: “Never leave the house looking like a Crayola Box.” Trust me, people have tried and they have failed.  Miserably. I had my own style that was, in many ways, a blend of many. My style became he third ingredient that set me apart from my peers.

Thus: Manners + Confidence + Style = Swagger.

Chances are, you already know something about how to work your swag. I think you want to know how you can break into whatever business or profession you’re striving for so you, too, can live out your dream. I get that.

After reading this, I hope you see being successful and having swag is all about the way you carry yourself, the respect you have for others, and the respect you have for yourself. Trust me, it’s easier said than done. It’s all about those little lessons your mother or grandmother tried to teach you when you are a “youngin’”, as we say in Halifax, but either you didn’t listen because you didn’t think they were that importance, or you have forgotten and need a refresher.

“Start where you are, use what you have, and the best you can.” This is the nature of true Swag.

Swag is not about everyone’s approval. It is about living an epic adventure, like the lovely ladies of Fantastic Spatula, and making it yours!

It’s been a pleasure,


  1. Ricky- Thank you so much for being our newest guest blogger!

  2. Vielen Dank! It was highly entertaining to write. Though I must say I did not have my usual standard amount of caffeine this morning. The English major inside me is dying from the number of typos. An editor, I am not! Love & Swag to all.

  3. A great expose (sp) on the meaning of swag. I however have been told that my swagger is more of a lope. (part wolf?). thanks, Ricky.
    Moskeeto Jack