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!)

Just For Laughs

Just when I thought our winter of discontent was going to stick to the well-trudged paths of Doom Scrolling and Ain’t It Awful, our old friend Reality stuck its hilarious little head up out of the ditch and starting cracking jokes.  Have you heard the one about Lulu the dog who inherited 5 million dollars?  She’s currently chasing a yellow Lamborghini expressly bought for her enjoyment.  (I made up the Lamborghini part, but somebody actually did give their dog 5 million bucks.)  Or, how about the guy from Florida who turned his uncle’s skeleton into an electric guitar.  (Totally icky, but totally true.  God, we’re an idly rich society!)  Anyway, here are a couple more laughables that might brighten your winter afternoon.

On Valentine’s Day, Gwyneth Paltrow’s pseudo wellness/awareness corporation, Goop, introduction a new vibrator.  According to the website, the good people at Goop have “tested a lot of vibrators over the years” before they finally came up with this double-ended PPD (personal pleasure device.)  Okay, full disclosure: I don’t know very much about vibrators, but I do know a thing or two about testing, so I’m interested in knowing how the Goop folks conducted theirs.  For example, there’s a machine at Toyota Quality Control that slams a car door 50,000 times to find out exactly how long it takes for the latch to finally break and fall off.  Is that the kind of test Goop did?  Or, in the aviation industry, before they ever put an airplane in the air, they put it in a wind tunnel to see how much force it takes to blow its wings off.  Did Goop do something like that?  And speaking of aviation, it takes hours and hours of study, training and inflight experience to become a test pilot: what qualifications did Goop’s vibrator testers have?  I would hate to think that Ms. Paltrow would put her name on a product certified by amateurs.  Or course, these are all moot questions because apparently the Goop vibrator sold out in hours.

A little more seriously, the Chinese government recently banned the BBC, and everybody west of the Vistula came apart at the seams.  While I think it’s a shame nobody living on the banks of the Yangtze will be getting the cricket scores anymore, I’m compelled to point out a couple of things.  First of all, this is China — whose idea of free speech is – uh – they don’t actually have one.  In the entire 5,000 years of recorded Chinese history, freedom of speech existed for about 20 minutes in 1911 when Sun Yat-sen sat on the Dragon Throne.  It’s like describing blue to a blind man.  Secondly, and more importantly, the BBC was never broadcast in China; it was only available in the luxury hotels.  The truth is 99.9999% of the citizens of the Middle Kingdom have never heard of the Beeb and wouldn’t know it if it bite them on the bum.  So, let’s just put this little act of censorship into perspective.  The Chinese government has millions of Uyghurs locked up in concentration camps, they beat the crap out of thousands of Hong Kong students every weekend and perform hundreds of human organ transplants (where the donor is not notified) every day.  Honestly, if, after that litany of evil, you’re getting your knickers in a knot about who gets to watch Masterpiece Theatre south of the Great Wall, I can’t help but give it giggle.

But I saved the best for last.

Somewhere in Louisiana, a woman sprayed her hair with Gorilla Glue.  For those of you who are unfamiliar, Gorilla Glue makes Super Glue look like a worn-out Post-it note.  This stuff could put Humpty Dumpty back together again, and Lebron could bounce him up and down the court all day without any ill effects.  So, right about now you’re probably thinking “What a horrible accident!  The poor thing was probably in a rush and grabbed the wrong bottle.”  Nope, she did it on purpose.  Here’s what she recently posted on social media:

 “When I do my hair, I like to finish it off with a little Göt2b Glued Spray, you know, just to keep it in place. Well, I didn’t have any more Göt2b Glued Spray, so I used this: Gorilla Glue spray. Bad, bad, bad idea.”

OMG!  But, wait!  This isn’t the funny bit, yet.  After she discovered there was no way to wash this stuff out of her hair, she started a GoFundMe account to pay for a surgical removal – and people gave her money!  Over $18,000!  Think about it!  There are children starving in Brazil, and a bunch of people consciously decided, “Screw you, ya skinny little six-year-old!  I’m giving my money to a lady in Louisiana with Gorilla Glue in her hair.”  Anyway, now she’s lawyered up and is thinking about suing the Gorilla Glue people because, despite the various warnings against using an industrial strength adhesive on skin, clothes and/or eyes, the label does not specifically mention hair — and therefore it’s misleading?  Wow!  Gorilla Glue better get their act together before people start spraying it on their hotdogs to hold the wiener in the bun.

Don’t we live in a magical, frivolous age?