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Be his guest? 别客气

中国日报网 2020-08-18 14:20


Reader question:

Please explain "be his guest" in this sentence: He didn't say anything but his facial expressions said be his guest.

My comments:

In other words, go ahead.

Apparently here the speaker wants to do something and seeks "his" approval. He does not speak but from his facial expressions, we can tell he gives the nod, he gives the go ahead. His approval is given.

Generously given, as if he were the generous host and the speaker was his guest at a banquet or home visit.

For that's where the expression "be my guest" comes from. You know, you ask the host "Can I have a second helping of this?" The host replies: "Be my guest." That means yes, go ahead, feel free.

Hence, metaphorically speaking, to say "be my guest" is to give the go ahead. In other words, you're welcome. Do as you wish. Let me be your host. Please enjoy my hospitality, etc.

Of course, hosts can feign it, too. You ask to do something they don't want you to do, they may also say: "Again? Be my guest. Sure." You should know they're not very enthusiastic about it.

All right, here are recent media examples of "be my guest" and its variations:

1. Of all the lies that cooking tells us, the greatest is how long it takes to caramelize alliums.

If you're following a recipe for cake, it'll (likely) tell you accurately how long to bake it in the oven. If you'd like to boil an egg, you can find multiple guides which will tell you the exact moment to pull it out to achieve your desired level of yolk consistency.

But nearly every dish involving onions, leeks, shallots and the like will advise you to sauté them "until golden," or about 15 minutes. If you think I'm kidding, be my guest. Look up some recipes for onion soup, which say the main ingredient be "tender, sweet and caramel colored" in "15 to 18 minutes." Or check out a certain famous recipe for shallot pasta claiming the star ingredient will be "totally softened and caramelized with golden-brown fried edges" in "15 to 20 minutes."

Putting this guidance into practice yields two possible results. You'll either hit the 20-minute mark and realize you have at least another half hour to go, hoping nobody is too hungry, or you'll crank up the heat and wind up with a pot of burned, bitter onions and a kitchen that stinks for days. Take it from me: I've done both. As Tom Scocca once wrote in Slate, "In truth, the best time to caramelize onions is yesterday."

So I want you to caramelize your onions yesterday. I want you to liberate yourself from both your delusions and your stovetop. Do you have a slow cooker? Do you have an Instant Pot? Of course you do — you bought one or both on Prime Day a few years back. Bust one of them out now, and get your money's worth.

I often wind up using the Little Dipper slow cooker which came with my Crock Pot for the job. It's the perfect size to melt down a single Vidalia. I thinly slice one up in the morning, and come dinnertime, I have a thick, jammy portion of deliciousness to apply toward dinner. As a bonus, it makes the whole apartment smell like my favorite old-school French restaurant.

- Free yourself from the stove: The best way to cook onions is in your favorite slow cooker, by Mary Elizabeth Williams, Salon.com, July 25, 2020.

2. Broadway seamstress Amy Micallef hasn’t put her talent on hold while theaters are shut. She’s been making plush toys — unusual plush toys.

Micallef, who has worked in the wardrobe departments of "Hamilton," "Waitress" and "Frozen," makes gleeful representations of COVID-19, complete with a pair of eyes and faux fur.

Each one goes for $23 and she encourages buyers to unleash their anger on her creations — be merciless against a virus that has caused so much loss and disruption.

"Sometimes you need to throw something against the wall, you need to step on something. Do you want to run that thing over with your car? Honey, be my guest," she said. "Here is your chance for sweet, sweet vengeance."

While stages remain dark, Broadway workers like Micallef are finding ways to keep the lights on at home with side hustles. Some teach dance. Some offer music lessons or acting tips via Zoom. Some make jewelry or prints of their art. Some sell skincare products or handmade journals.

"Actors' normal side gigs are catering and even those jobs don't exist. No one's hosting parties," said Jeanna de Waal, who is to play the title role in the musical "Diana." "A lot of people are having to learn new side hustles and utilize any skill that they've got to pay the bills."

The survival picture is certain to get darker when the government's $600-a-week pandemic unemployment compensation program expires this month. Unemployment checks in New York top out at $504 a week but most people get a fraction of that, not enough to get by in an expensive city. The relief group The Actors Fund has distributed more than $14 million in assistance to some 12,000 people, but more is needed. The city doesn't expect shows to restart until at least January.

"I can't say this any clearer: The arts and the entertainment sector as a whole is on the verge of the biggest existential crisis we've ever had," said Adam Krauthamer, the president of Local 802, which represents musicians. "We're on the edge of the cliff."

- Plush toys, jewelry, dance lessons — Broadway’s side hustles, AP, July 29, 2020.

3. Our ability to grow into more than what we currently are is truly one of the defining traits of human existence. It is the foundation of most of our ambitions, dreams, and drives. Without it, the human race would never make significant steps forward. Learning how to engage in constant self-improvement and personal development is something that has enabled us to take ourselves and the entire human race to higher levels.

However, as with any activity, it can be overdone. There are downsides when you engage in too much personal development and constant self-improvement. That is what we’re going to discuss today—how constant self-improvement can, at times, harm us.

Where Does Our Need for Self-Improvement Come From?
Although self-improvement and personal development, in general, are excellent things to seek out in our lives, when overdone, they can begin to take a negative toll.

Think about why the vast majority of people engage in personal development. It’s often because they feel as though they aren’t currently enough, or that they could be more, or that something is wrong with them.

Whatever your reason is, it’s important to retain positive feelings towards yourself. This is because constant self-improvement can sometimes reinforce the idea that there are many things wrong with us or that we’re not good enough, so we need to force ourselves to improve.

And if you’re continually trying to improve simply because you believe something is wrong with you or because you’re not good enough, you may begin taking yourself down a negative road.

There is a massive difference between being realistic about yourself and saying, “I am not good at this particular thing, but I can get better if I keep trying” and saying “I need to get good at this thing because otherwise, I have no value.”

So, keep an eye on your mindset throughout this process. Because, yes, self-improvement is good in moderation while constant self-improvement can at times reinforce some negative mindsets.

Don’t let your insecurities come into play, at least not too significantly. Don’t start saying things like, “when I accomplish this, then I’ll be good enough to have real value.” Those are dangerous phrases to include in your self-take in regards to your mental health.

This type of harsh and overly critical self-evaluation can form the foundation for many negative emotions and personal issues that we develop in our lives.

Don’t allow yourself to eventually dislike the person you see in the mirror because you’re constantly not meeting the increasingly higher standards that you’re setting for yourself. The scary part of constant self-improvement is that many of us do, at one point or another, fall into this trap.


If you want to engage in constant self-improvement, then be my guest. But be careful.

- Why Constant Self-Improvement May Be Bad Sometimes, by Mark Lynch, LifeBack.org, August 10, 2020.


About the author:

Zhang Xin is Trainer at chinadaily.com.cn. He has been with China Daily since 1988, when he graduated from Beijing Foreign Studies University. Write him at: zhangxin@chinadaily.com.cn, or raise a question for potential use in a future column.

(作者:张欣 编辑:丹妮)


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