What would you love to tell your younger self?
A handful of longtime readers may remember when I announced that “baby boy Tyree” was on his way.
Time flies. My only child Gideon recently celebrated his 18th birthday.
Ah, 18: an unrefrigerated casserole of freedoms, responsibilities, hopes, fears and life-or-death decisions.
My wife and I have been dribbling out bits of school-of-hard-knocks advice for Gideon all along, so I don’t have any showstopping pronouncements to share with him this week. But I will seize upon Gideon’s milestone as a springboard for one of those corny “What advice would I give my younger self?” essays.
I haven’t accumulated as many regrets as some people (no arrest record, no significant sun damage, no hangovers, no burning bridges without first purchasing a carbon offset, etc.), but I suppose I could list a few thoughts for theoretical sharing with 18-year-old Danny Tyree.
Granted, I would be leery of actually carrying out such a mentorship, given all the paradoxes and potential harm to the space-time continuum.
But if I did do it, my first advice would be, “Don’t use all the paradoxes and potential harm to the space-time continuum as an ice-breaker, unless you enjoy Saturday nights with Lawrence Welk marathons and cold showers.”
Other sadder-but-wiser nuggets:
“Don’t initiate a lifelong habit of carrying a quarter in case you need a pay phone. Do carry a quarter in case you need a thimbleful of gasoline.”
“Don’t sweat your scholastic Permanent Record. You can someday obtain a marital Permanent Record, as in ‘You snored just as loudly as you did that Friday in August of 2017.’”
“Abandon your dream of opening the first brick-and-mortar eight-track-tape store on Mars in 2007 and entertaining all the guys and gals. Wrong on so many levels, dude.”
“Don’t make fun of goofy-looking bald people. Never mind why.”
“Roller skating in a buffalo herd? Maybe. Roller skating in the summer of 1990? No way! We’re also running a special on ‘amusing little speed traps in your vicinity.’”
“Don’t remember all the fun in third-period French class. For pity’s sake, don’t remember all the fun in third-period French class!!”
“Embrace change – but not in the creepy way that would get Human Resources involved.”
“Forget sentence diagramming, Chaucer and footnotes. Major in pronouns.”
“Decide when mid-life is, or you’ll miss your mid-life crisis!”
“Venture outside your comfort zone occasionally. Oh, I forgot the Preparation H, dandruff shampoo and taped-up eyeglasses. FIND your comfort zone first and then venture outside of it.”
“Listen more to your sage elders. Then you’ll have a higher caliber of stories for younger generations to ignore.” (“Okay, Boomer-bearing-Greatest-Generation-stories.”)
“Dance with the one that brung you, unless they brung you to a disability interview. No dancing!”
“Pray without ceasing, that you fall off your platform shoes and meet a merciful death before having to encounter something called ‘skinny jeans.’”
“Dorothy, always make sure you…er, I mean, Danny, always make sure your proofread really well when you’re plagiarizing someone else’s essay.”
Would my self from 40something years ago really pay attention to any of these pearls of wisdom?
Maybe not. Mr. “All the Answers” would probably reason, “He COULD be giving advice to baby Hitler’s nurse, but instead he chooses to advise a geeky writer wannabe? Can you spell ‘loser’? No, seriously, another time traveler told me about Common Core, and I’m wondering, can you spell ‘loser’?”
Danny Tyree welcomes email responses at email@example.com and visits to his Facebook fan page “Tyree’s Tyrades.”