All of my life I’ve heard people quoting their grandfather’s wisdom. I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard my friends say, “It’s like my grandpa used to say ... (fill in grandfatherly words of wisdom).” Even my buddy Chuck from West Virginia has been known to make a point by saying, “It’s like my old grand pappy used to say (fill in some backwoods homespun wisdom usually involving possums or cousins).”
Even my own grandpa was famous for saying that, “This was a great country ‘til that #*&@ Roosevelt screwed it up.” Grandpa never specified which Roosevelt had screwed it up and until I was in junior high school I thought there had been three presidents named Roosevelt; Teddy, Franklin and #*&@.
It occurred to me the other day that I’ve been a grandpa now for several years, and I’ve never said anything particularly wise or all that quotable for my grandkids to pass on. I really don’t want my grandkids to be the only ones in their class without some grandfatherly pearls of wisdom to share. Life is tough enough for them because they’ve been genetically cursed with my charm and good looks (it’s a burden) so it would be too much for them to be left without some quotable sage wisdom from Gramps!
It may come as a surprise to you, or maybe it won’t, but wisdom has never been my long suit. I’m pretty good with a wisecrack and I have been called a wisenheimer but I can’t say that I’ve ever done or said anything particularly wise. If fact I could probably provide you a list of people willing to testify to that.
Wisdom, like yodeling, is hard for me to define but I know it when I hear it hear it. For instance when my parents, my wife or my boss tell me that I talk too much it’s just nagging. When Will Rogers said, “Never miss a good chance to shut up” it’s pure wisdom. I can’t explain the difference but you see it, right?
I’m no Will Rogers and there’s no chance I’m ever going to come up with something as profound as that. I have been around the world, I’ve fought in a war, been married twice (which is not unlike fighting in a war), ran a marathon and surfed the South Island of New Zealand so I must have picked up some unique insights to share with my grandkids.
I’ve spent far too much time drinking beer and telling lies with some pretty colorful people over the years to not have come away with a few gems that a child might believe is wise. I figure it’s all in the phrasing, essentially Will Rogers was saying not to talk too much but the wisdom was in how he said it.
Here’s a wise quote for my granddaughter Alexa — never marry an Australian because of his cool accent; there’s probably a reason he had to change continents to find girls.
For my grandson Max: marry a good-looking Australian girl the first chance you get! They have the coolest accents and her parents will live too far away to visit!
My sage wisdom for Silas — never order a cheeseburger in a Chinese restaurant.
For my grandson Aspen — always brush your teeth and use dental floss; it will keep your parents happy but more importantly girls would rather kiss a clean mouth!
To Wesley — never, ever bet on the Bengals in the playoffs!
For my youngest granddaughter Bailey — everything you’ve heard about boy having cooties is true. Good-looking boys have good-looking cooties, tall boys have tall cooties and rich boys have rich cooties with bad comb-overs.
Finally for my newest grandson due to arrive in April — grow your hair long and wear it in a man-bun, wear skinny jeans and trendy hats. Always refer to movies as films and grow a neatly trimmed beard because by the time you grow up being a hipster might be cool again. I wouldn’t bet on it, but it might.
Admittedly it’s not exactly Will Rogers quality wisdom but I’m their grandpa and they are stuck with it. Besides, I think wisdom is overrated … it’s better to inherit money from your grandpa than wisdom.
Donald Trump inherited a lot more money than wisdom and he seems to be doing OK these days. So I’m saving a few bucks for each of my grandkids because … like I said, wisdom is not my long suit.
Rick Seley is an award-winning humor columnist. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.