Advice For Life

Life does not come with a set of instructions.  Around the time we learn to crawl, we’re taught what bites, what burns, what tickles and which farts just can’t be trusted — but after that, it’s all on-the-job training with live ammunition.  Unfortunately, without any guidelines we really never know how we’re doing.  Essentially, if life were a parlour game, we’d have no way to keep score or even know where we are on the board.  C’est le vie!

There are, however, a few tricks one learns along the way.  Since I’m a good guy who’s been wandering this world for a few years now, I’m going to pass a random sample along to you.  They’re in no particular order — because if I actually knew what was important in life, I’d write the book.

1 — A low-cut sweater will fix a bad hair day.

2 — Nobody is ever going to look at you the way women in yogurt commercials look at yogurt — get over it.

3 — You know you’re fat when people start saying “Have you lost weight?” Nobody ever says that to skinny people.

4 —  After high school you’re never going to use algebra again — ever.

5 — You know the relationship isn’t love when, during sex, you fantasize that your partner is someone else and, after sex, you fantasize you are.

6 — You’ve become an adult when your towels match.

7 — Eventually, every parent secretly eats a candy bar in the car, or the closet, or just around the corner so they don’t have to share it with their kids.  (So you aren’t a selfish bastard, after all.)

8 — You know you’re old when younger people talk to you in that tone of voice we all reserve for children and pets.

9 — Later on in life, nobody but you is going to give a rat’s ass how hot you were in college, so you might as well take the four years and actually learn something.

10 — If you’re over 26 and your job still involves extra pickles, you’re doing something wrong.

11 — The biggest lie you’re ever going to tell yourself is “I’ll remember that.”

12 — You know you’re rich when you don’t have to look at the prices on a menu.  You know you’re wealthy when you can do that at the car dealership.

13 — The difference between tragic hero/heroine and perpetual loser is five years.

14 — As you get older, Christmas comes faster and faster.

15 – There’s never going to be anything quite as cool as the other side of the pillow on a warm night.

And finally:

16 — The real secret to a happy and successful life is comfortable underwear.  But you need to have enough money to afford it and the good sense to buy it.

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!)