The following is my confession to a life of stealing from friends, neighbors, companies, and corporations. No person or group was, or is, off limits to my larceny. When I was younger, I kept quiet about my vice, but later upon seeing that others, when discovering my proclivity, seemed to accept this particular theft without censure, I began to brag openly about my thievery, even to the point of embellishment. Not that I was ever ashamed of it, but instead took a perverse pleasure in ripping off the unsuspecting.
But I am a selective thief. Although I have many times been tempted to take objects of my envy or desire, I had my strict limits. I only allowed my sticky fingers to lift ideas, recipes, or plans.
Soon after my dear wife became alarmed about the money I was spending on a hobby, she pushed me into a new one after being exasperated at my being underfoot at our townhouse in Austin. She told me to get a cheaper hobby, and I began brewing beer and joined a brewing club. It provided an opportunity to make off with recipes left and right while associating with a group of friendly, like-minded recipe poachers. I became very successful at making great beer, in large part due to my background in cooking, which requires not only following a recipe but adjusting it to your own taste. And, of course, stealing recipes was part and parcel of my love of cooking. I also must confess, to my wife’s dismay, that my brewing hobby became even more expensive than the previous one.
There came a point where I boldly stated that I had never created a recipe of my own. I boasted that every recipe I’d used to make beer was pilfered. To my astonishment, no one blinked. It seems that the consensus of my fellows was that any recipe that was in print, no matter the source, was fair game and that most of the recipes they used were lifted from other sources too. I discovered that only a few of the hundreds of members had created any recipe from scratch. Those few were the best of the best. I made it my passion to “steal” as many recipes from them as possible! The problem was that the best brewers were also the best people and would share any recipe they had. It’s hard to steal that which is freely given.
The root ideas (from which all plans and recipes spring) are particularly subject to theft. I’ve heard it said that there are no original ideas, but that all are versions of earlier ideas. I think this cannot be true. Somebody certainly had to think it up first. I do believe, though, that the vast majority of ideas are borrowed from some earlier time. That is not such a bad thing. If we had to rediscover fire every generation, we would still be living in caves and having a very stinky, unsanitary, and short life. There are certainly new applications for old ideas, and people that try to keep them to themselves are subject to having those ideas begged, borrowed, or stolen.
So, I am a thief of sorts and proud of it. Are you one too?