Nature is playing a dirty trick on me. A few years ago I discovered an enemy in the mirror. I wrote about it. To foil the rat-bastard I am very active physically and mentally; constantly training like an Olympian, writing voraciously, and diddling in goofy entrepreneurial projects. Most of the latter are considered by critics as crazy schemes, but that’s what makes them fun. |
Overall I feel the same as I did at your age only smarter—much smarter. That’s the cruelest trick of all. Here’s why: I can count the sunrises I have left until that FINAL sunset, which wouldn’t bug me so much if I actually felt my age. I do admit (grudgingly) that sooner-or-later system failure furtively sneaks up, which I resent! Something could be percolating inside me, plotting my demise that I (today) know nothing about. Nature always plants some kind of time bomb; we come into life with an expiration date. Put it this way: I know what philosophers mean when they say youth is wasted on the young. If I had your age and my smarts—learned mostly by screwing up—I’d have the world by the nads.
Here’s another way life double-crosses in style: When we try to save young men from the pain of repeating our blunders you don’t listen! We hear statements like: 1) that was then, this is now; or 2) times have changed; the world is different. This attitude suggests my life’s lessons have been for naught. What irony! Truth to tell I don’t blame you. I reacted the same way only to learn (too late) that my father and his cronies were spot on. Some things like gravity, chicken eggs taking 21 days to hatch, and the cyclical follies of young men never change. They remain constants of the universe we can do nothing about.
You could say, accurately, that I’ve led a charmed life, and I have; I really have. However, I’ve also faced the same ordeals as you, but have made life’s trials look a bit easier than they are through some strategically placed smoke-and-mirrors. I haven’t hidden those tribulations for the reasons you might think. That is, the masking was not to make it look like I’ve breezed through unscathed and/or that I have something of which to be ashamed. Two reasons. First, my predicaments are nobody's business except those in whom I choose to confide; and some of the things I’ve done were so ridiculous that I’m dismayed to have been so naive. Second, cynics love it when misery rules the day so they can commiserate and bitch and gripe about how unfortunate their lot has been. You know the old saying, Misery Loves Company? Sorry, but life is too damned short to wallow in that kind of negative atmosphere. Always remember you hit the lottery by being born; and that life is a gift that must be given back. Therefore, when you get smacked in the face with an ordeal learn from it with a wry smile and move on. Learning how-to-cope is a part of life’s experience that will continue until the day you drop. As for me, good and bad, I love life!!!
With that in mind, I’m going to give you some unasked for advice that you’ll probably ignore until you’re my age. Then you’ll say, “Oh yeah! Now I get it! I wish I would have listened…”
There is an American over-obsession with money. It’s beneficial to earn a good living, but not at the expense of your life. TIME is your most important (and irreplaceable) asset. Cherish it, and be jealous of it. To segue to the next paragraph, I leave you with a quote from Alfred E. Newman: “There are more important things in the world than money, but they won’t go out with you unless you have some.”
FEMALES – This is a hard call because things have changed from my salad days; that is, ladies have become more promiscuous. Someone has convinced them they should dress, talk, and act slutty (i.e., like men); that indiscriminate hooking-up and BJs are normal. Unless you’re only looking for a one-night-stand, which is not recommended because of rampant STDs, you’ll want to search for a lady with a touch of class. There are some universal guidelines, which if you follow, will serve you well. First you must acknowledge to yourself that at your age you’re driven by raging hormones; that your intent with females is mainly trying to figure out the right trick(s) to get laid. That never really goes away, but you must resist the urge if that is the only attraction. (Apparently we males have some kind of defective DNA.)
Here’s what I’ve learned: it’s best to be confident, but respectful, and find out what these soft, curvy beings are all about as individuals and you won’t need the tricks. You may not get a lover, but at worse you’ll make a friend. A partner with whom you have mellow, free-flowing communication is much more satisfying on all levels—for both parties. Social intercourse must have priority over sexual intercourse if you’re looking for a relationship. Have good manners. Be nice. No touching unless she invites it. (It may take some time to learn how to interpret nonverbal signals.) Make yourself attractive by having good hygiene—at all times—and keep yourself in shape. Most of your peers consist of overweight fudge-hammers clad in unkempt clothing; further you stink, have yukmouth, earwax, and hanging boogers. Not a pretty sight to a lady with discriminating taste.
Never, ever cling to a lady that is not into you; and DO NOT attempt to hold onto her if she treats you poorly. That is a symptom of low self esteem, which makes you pathetic in their eyes. Remember, women like confident men. That said, be prepared for at least one bad romance; not a little one or two week affair that goes square, but a really deep down hurt that may temporarily throw you into a greasy, black funk of depression. It’s part of the maturing process.
Now, sometimes it’s a bit difficult to approach an unknown female to whom one is attracted. Unfortunately we tend to boost our courage with alcohol, which can produce an unwanted result. You do not want to end up looking like that legion of spring-break loser, drunk guys going around yelling, “Woo-hoo! Party! Yeah!” That is a symptom of male posturing of the my-dick-is-bigger-then-yours variety, and only impresses loser, drunk girls. Below I have illustrated new and old school approaches keeping in mind what parts of the female anatomy usually catches our eye. BTW, I heartily recommend the OLD school approach.
NEW: Whoa/Damn, girl! Nice rack/booty! OLD: Your eyes/smile/ dimples are very attractive. CONTINENTAL: You like me, I can tell. Would you like to make love? (Only recommended in Italy)
If the girl has body odor from too much lively dancing…
NEW: Damn! Is that you stinking like that? You better douche your nasty ass! OLD: Hi. (Smile and just move on.) CONTINENTAL: Hmmm, potpourri. (Normal in France)
WORLDVIEW – Well, when you have a bad romance you have to get out of town, which means you’ll need a good travel agent. That’s a function you can easily accomplish on your own. Make yourself a more complete person by learning about people in other areas of this country and abroad. When you travel overseas learn enough of their language and customs to communicate on a beginning level, and not inadvertently be insulting. Be open to learning all points of view, customs, and traditions. Be mindful that US citizens have earned a poor reputation because of arrogance and the insistence that the whole world conforms to them.
At home resist believing in convenient sound bites from media political talking heads or anything written on the internet. Do your own thinking, and learn to articulate your opinions. Be fair and avoid right and left wing ideologues because most are like soccer-hooligan robots. They’re dreadful bores and waste your time (therefore, your life).
NOTE: Reporters used to be driven by their editors to find-the-truth and tell-the-story. Unfortunately, media personnel now attempt to become “celebrities”, and sellout to become accepted into an elite circle to enhance their own status. An accurate metaphor: a pretty girl with the clap.
SOCIAL INTERACTION – Look people in the eye when you speak with them. Have a firm handshake. Say “you’re welcome” not “no problem”. Open doors for ladies and older people. Offer your seat. Resist the American urge of addressing people in familiar terms until they invite you to do so. I know it’s against the norms of today, but when you give your word keep it.
Oh, and forget the tattoos and piercings. It makes you look like a shitkicker, and will only become worse as you age.
THE WORLD-OF-WORK – You are facing a more difficult and complex situation than I did. At your age I had completed my undergraduate studies and good-paying jobs were so plentiful they couldn’t be filled. A college degree doesn’t seem as important today, but learning is the best kind of high, and knowledge is always your most valuable asset. Businesses start-up and either sellout or fail in warp speed making it difficult to plan a long-term career. Where my father worked at two firms his entire career, I labored at 15 or so and had to chase work around the planet. My best advice is to choose a field you enjoy with an attitude of a volunteer, and figure how to earn a living applying it without working for “a company”. Commercial art, health care, free-lance writing, and certain blue-collar entrepreneurial businesses come to mind. The first two require varying amounts of formal education, but the latter requires mainly street smarts along with some accounting skill. I’m thinking of landscaping, roofing, paving, plumbing, etc. Those business owners do very well.
I use to laugh at the old farts when they said, “I wish I were your age and know what I know now!” Oddly I find myself thinking the very same thing, but wouldn’t express it out loud. You think I want to be considered an old fart? No way! Why, I’d be unstoppable if I didn’t have that coward in the mirror bugging me.
I wish I would have written this letter to myself (sigh).
Your working boy, Gene Myers
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