I'M LOOKING DOWN THE BARREL OF A MILESTONE BIRTHDAY THIS MONTH and amid the accompanying funk I’m in, lately I’ve been plagued by the kinds of questions and worries that only furrow my Botox-deprived brow even more.
I’m not asking myself how I managed to get here so quickly – I know I must have been shot out of a cannon somewhere around age 24. I just can’t help wondering what the hell I’ve learned along the way. The karmic lessons can wait until the next time around. What I’m talking about are life lessons for the here and now.
What pearls of wisdom has time on this earth given me that I can share with my kids? When they nostalgically quote me to their children and their grandchildren, what will they say besides, “Heyyyyyyyy! No one wants to hear you whistle!” or, “Smack much? No one wants to hear you chew your food!” or, “That’s an OUTSIDE toy so take it OUTSIDE, along with your OUTSIDE voice!”
Before I was shooed out of their nest, my well-meaning parents tried to impart enough adages about life to send me on my way with some semblance of worldliness. I’m sure these were the same hard and fast laws they grew up believing.
It turns out, these were all crap. Myths. Maybe it’s my gift to humanity to put an end to these fairy tales by applying the wisdom of age to them.
You never get a second chance to make a first impression.
Nope. If you’re like me and you can’t remember what you had for lunch yesterday, you’re probably meeting the same people three or four times before it occurs to you that they look vaguely familiar. Go ahead and try out a few different how-do-you-do’s on the people you meet. Open with show tunes, if you want. You have at least a half dozen chances before you make a first impression. At least on me, you do.
Make sure you have on clean underwear in case you’re ever in an accident.
WHAT?!? In my estimation, my mom ruled the free world. Consequently, I never questioned her ongoing admonitions throughout my childhood. The clean underwear rule ranked very high on her list. I think I’ve been in enough accidents that I can now hold this rule up to some scrutiny. When I think about how we’ve all been hardwired with a magical central nervous system to give us a life-saving “fight or flight” response in the face of danger, I consider it a testament to my mom’s influence that I defy both fight and flight. Instead, I size up the situation the way I was taught, which means the first thought in my head is, “My god! Is my underwear clean enough? My bra and panties don’t even match today!” If this rule doesn’t hold up to the scrutiny I’ve given it, it’s because I ask, do we really need the fear of an impending accident as motivation to wear clean underwear? The rule should be: Clean underwear only. Good luck with the rest.
All good things come to those who wait.
Wrong. If you’ve ever been at the back of a long buffet line when they’ve run out of brisket, you’ve already debunked this myth.
Money can’t buy happiness.
Most of the time, this is wrong. When I look back, there have been times when money was scarce and times when money was abundant. I’ve learned that I gravitate toward the happy side when money is abundant. Worrying about money has never made me happy. On the other hand, travel to distant lands, buttery leather gloves, sparkly things and high thread count sheets do the trick every time. And those take money.
Age is all in your head.
Lie. If anyone is telling you this, it’s because you’re old and they know it. If you believe it when someone tells you this, it’s because you’re still in denial (one of the telltale signs of old age). “You’re as young as you feel! It’s all just a state of miiiiiiiiind,” my (younger) friends keep telling me. Yes, feeling young is a state of mind and I’ve found it works best whenever I’m at Furr’s. Supposing you really do still feel young at heart, odds are, your body will be the last to know. It’s been too busy auditioning for the remake of “Cocoon.”