A Little Old Time Wisdom

There are tons of Old People Lists floating around the Internet.  They run all the way from old advertisements — with doctors smoking cigarettes — to lists of things that the world hasn’t seen since grandma was a baby.  Some of them have this smug undercurrent of “Things were so much better in my day,” but mostly they’re just harmless ways to play Remember When.   However, they all tend to unlock the inner dinosaur in those of us who remember a time before Google.  Unfortunately, none of these lists makes any mention of what it takes to survive the rigors of life and actually arrive at an age when you can afford the luxury of nostalgia.  Nor do they offer a list of all those neat little goodies we all pick up along the way — the tricks of the trade, so to speak.  Things like white shirts attract spaghetti sauce, and doctors are never on time.

It takes a lot to get old, and when you do, you need to stop every once in a while and congratulate yourself.  You finally made it, and now you’re old enough to know:

1 — Puppies are a natural antidepressant

2 — There’s no such thing as a free lunch.  Somebody, somewhere is going to have to pay for that Happy Meal™.  And if you eat it, chances are good it’s going to be you.

3 — If it sounds too good to be true, just keep on moving — and don’t look back.

4 — Lincoln got it right.  You canfool some of the people all of the time, but no matter how good you are at doing that, eventually somebody, somewhere is going to say, “Wait a minute!”

5 — Integrity is what you do when nobody’s looking.

6 — The meek shall inherit the earth – if they have a big brother standing beside them with a stick in his hand.

7 — There is justice in the world, so be careful what you wish for.

8 — Nothing feels as good as warm socks on a cold day.

9 — Everybody says they want the truth, but sometimes, it’s not that pleasant when it actually shows up.

10 — The shortest distance between two points is a straight line — no matter how many times you think you’ve found a shortcut.

11 — The major difference between wise and smart is a couple of bad decisions.

12 — Most people simply don’t have enough money to get rich quick.

13 — We’re all in the same boat, but some of us are using a different paddle.

And finally:

14 — Like Polonius’ advice to Laertes, most words of wisdom are just made- up crap that sounds good.

The Road To Hell Is Paved

The problem with life is bad decisions almost always make the best stories.  This is a fact that nobody feels all that comfortable with.  For example, the difference between “We made some tea and watched To Have and Have Not on PBS” and “We decided to open another bottle of wine” is massive.  One story ends with “We brushed our teeth and went to bed,’ and the other one gets lost somewhere around “After Tom passed out, we painted his ass orange and locked him in a row of grocery carts.”  See what I mean?

Both stories are actually true, BTW.  Obviously, nobody remembers the first one — like — who cares?  However, the second one is the stuff of legend.  It’s the kind of tale we tell at dinner parties.  It’s the one that is our public face.  The one that defines us as interesting.  And we all want to be interesting.

It’s not difficult to recognize the road to salvation.  It generally runs through tea, Netflix and conscientious oral hygiene.  However, the other road — the road to Hell — is paved.  It’s lined with ice cream shops and cheap alcohol, pretty girls and naughty boys.  It has hundreds of distracted side streets, secluded alleys and boisterous cafes, but never any toilets — anywhere.  It’s the perfect sexual moment interrupted by somebody’s mother, the wild ride to the wrong funeral and the time you passed out fell asleep behind Beverly Jenkins’ sofa.  In fact, the road to Hell is limited only by our innate ability to make mistakes.

Yet it is the road to Hell that protects us from being just another frump on the trudge to the grave.  It gives our lives curves, dents, depth and colour and lifts us above the relentless bureaucracy of everyday living.  And although the road to Hell doesn’t give life any true meaning, our adventures on it tell the world we showed up and got in the game.  And when we are old and gray and full of sleep, nodding by the fire, it’s the road to Hell we’ll remember, not the dental floss.

The trick is striking a balance between collecting enough uber-cool life stories to wow them in the Old Folks’ Home and staying out of jail.  (I’m still surprised Tom didn’t just call the cops!)

Originally written in 2015 (Yeah, I’ve been doing this for over 6 years!)

Rural – Urban – Suburban

In my lifetime, our world has changed dramatically.  We’ve gone from being a rural society to being an urban one.  For years, people have been leaving the countryside for the cities; while, at the same time, people in the city have been fleeing to the suburbs.  And this double migration is still going on.  So if you’re thinking of relocating, here are a few things you might want to consider before you make your move.  (Full disclosure: I have never lived anywhere but a large urban centre, so some of this is guesswork.  And if you’re proud of where you live and I’ve dissed it – please — before you send me that email questioning my knowledge, my ancestry and my sanity, remember this is satire!)  Enjoy!

Safety

Rural – You don’t lock your door because nobody in their right mind would wanna steal your pitiful pile of junk.

Suburban – You lock your door but keep a spare key under a flower pot, and the security camera tells you which neighbor kid found it and robbed you.

Urban – You have two locks, a deadbolt, an iron bar and a safety chain– but you’ve been robbed so many times you just close the door and hope for the best.

Neighbours

Rural – You know all your neighbours, but they’re so far away you can walk out your front door naked with a knife in your back and they wouldn’t find you until the coyotes were chewing your bones.

Suburban – You know all your neighbours, and they’re so close if you walked out of your front door naked with a knife in your back, you’d be on YouTube before you got to the street.

Urban – You don’t know any of your neighbours, so you could walk out your front door naked with a knife in your back and they wouldn’t even bother calling the cops.

Pets

Rural – You have a couple of dogs, a house cat, a barn cat, a stray cat, another cat, two horses, chickens, a rooster, something that lives under the porch and a goat — and every one of them eats enough to bankrupt Bill Gates.

Suburban – You have a dog that poops all over the lawn, the kids have a hamster that smells and you still haven’t thrown out the 4 bags of kitty litter you bought for the cat that ran away.

Urban – You had a fish but it died, so you put a cactus in the bowl, and now you just throw bits of pizza down to the rats in the alley.

Warm Summer Nights

Rural – You just want five minutes to peel off your soggy underwear when Eddie and Fran show up with a load of fresh pig manure that needs to be spread before dark.

Suburban – You finally just say “Screw it!” and turn the A/C to a human temperature so you can watch Netflix in your underwear until you fall asleep on the sofa.

Urban – You hang out in an air-conditioned bar with a bunch of losers because your apartment is a sauna and you refuse to spend the evening sitting out on the fire escape in your underwear like some peasant.

Waking up on the weekend

Rural – One of these days, you’re going to throttle that &$#?% rooster.

Suburban – Every asshole in history is out there, mowing his lawn at 7:00 A.M.

Urban – Sirens and the occasional gunshot.

Transportation

Rural – You have a truck that’s held together with duct tape, Bondo, binder twine and rust — and looks like a refugee from a Demolition Derby.

Suburban – You have two vehicles and three car payments because you’re still paying for that stupid PT Cruiser you bought two minivans ago.

Urban – There was a dead guy on the subway last Thursday.

Exercise

Rural – Exercise?  You work your ass off every day and need exercise like the Titanic needed another iceberg.

Suburban – You have a set of weights and a treadmill gathering dust in the garage.  You’re thinking about buying a Bowflex and you swear to God, this year, you’re going to go back to yoga.

Urban – You have a gym membership, but you haven’t been there since January — 4 years ago.

But in the end, we’re all the same.

Shopping

Rural – There are two stores in town, but their selection is so crappy that you just buy your stuff online from Amazon.

Suburban – You have 2 malls, a giant discount store, a Walmart, a Home Depot, a Costco and an Ikea within a five mile radius, but it’s such a pain in the ass to drive there, find a parking space, wander around the aisles for hours and stand in line waiting to pay that you just buy your stuff online from Amazon.

Urban – You have tons of cool designer shops within walking distance, but they’re so damn expensive that you just buy your stuff online from Amazon.