WESTFIELD, NJ — Avoiding direct conversation with others while walking around stark naked might seem common sense, but not for everyone — apparently.
A jarring locker room conversation brought the need to teach this lesson to light for state Assemblyman Jon Bramnick not too long ago.
“A naked guy walks up to me and starts talking about the marijuana bill,” said Bramnick, a resident of Westfield.
The lesson: “If I see you in the locker room, wrap yourself in a towel, Pops,” Bramnick advises in rule 26 of his new book, “Why People Don’t Like You.”
“Who told you walking around completely nude is OK?” Bramnick asked.
The book doles out nuggets of advice based on this and other of Bramnick’s experiences gleaned during his years as a state legislator, former councilman, trial attorney and professional comedian.
It’s not the first time the Westfield man and former Plainfield City Councilman has sought to spread civility.
In 2005, Bramnick introduced an assembly measure encouraging kindness. The two-page resolution notes that the state’s dense population makes it easy for people to get frustrated. It seeks to curtail antagonistic behavior without specific strictures.
The resolution never made it to the governor’s desk but with his book, Bramnick may have found another way to accomplish his aim. The 205-page guide illustrated with lively sketches by his wife, Pat Brentano, who is a professional artist, delivers on its title.
“Everyone has a passion,” Bramnick said. “My passion is people, and within my passion, I find people who have tremendous interpersonal skills, and I find out why they are liked.”
Rule 18 in the book encourages people to “Just Listen.”
Bramnick recalled that former Westfield Republican Mayor Andrew Skibitsky, who is named in the book’s dedication, listened well, even when the public derided him about a poorly functioning traffic light on Central Avenue.
“He used to sit up on the dais, and people would criticize him, but he was very professional,” said Bramnick, who is also a Republican. “He listened to people’s comments. He didn’t get mad.”
Ever one to encourage civility, Bramnick was quick to note that his praise for Skibitsky is not meant as a statement on Mayor Shelley Brindle, a Democrat who won Skibitsky’s seat in 2017. Bramnick said he just has not witnessed Brindle in action at the dais.
Bramnick admits that he is not perfect.
Rule 204 advises the public not to write books criticizing people’s behavior, and Rule 205 tells readers not to take his book too seriously.
Bramnick, who is the winner of the Funniest Lawyer in New Jersey Contest, said that he has received good feedback on the book so far and the lessons detailed in it are never far from his mind.
“Most people have said 'this is something I really enjoy,'” Bramnick said. “This, to me, is something I think about.”
Available on Amazon, “Why People Don’t Like You” is Jon Bramnick’s Guide to Interpersonal Skills. Hardcover: $29; Paperback: $22. ISBN: 978-1-7336330-0-0 (Paperback); 978-1-7336330-0-0 (Hardcover)
Email Staff Writer Matt Kadosh at firstname.lastname@example.org; Follow him on Twitter: @MattKadosh