Mark Twain once said, “Write what you know about.” Mr. Twain is a personal hero of mine so I always trust his judgment, but, as a writer, this particular piece of advice really limits my palette.
To quote Forrest Gump (and you should always quote Forrest Gump) “I am not a smart man” and I don’t know much, but I’ve been around a bit so I’m going to write about some things I know. What the heck, it worked for Mark Twain.
Being the smartest guy in the room during a job interview isn’t always a good thing. It’s a real dilemma if you’re talking to your potential boss and all you can think about is that he said he was “exspecially” interested in your management experience. I know about this because I’ve interviewed a lot of smart guys that I didn’t hire … exspecially the grammar Nazis, I hate grammar Nazis!
If you wake up in a strange place with a vicious hangover, no clothes and find yourself tangled in a pile of large naked Maori women, it’s best to sneak out and never try to remember what happened … you don’t want to know what happened. Please don’t ask me how I know about this.
If you’re a man under 5-foot 8 inches tall, embrace your shortness. The view isn’t so bad from down here and there are perks. Sure, most women won’t date you and other men make short jokes about you but there’s an up side to being vertically challenged. When you’re a short guy you always have legroom even in when you fly coach, you have plenty of spare time in basketball season and it’s easier to convince a woman you respect her when you’re looking up at her. The broads love it when you respect them. I know that because I look up to women whenever possible.
Some laws are flexible and others aren’t. We all know that you can usually set your cruise control a bit over the speed limit and never get a ticket. The law of gravity is not so flexible; I know that because things are constantly falling. I’m 60 years old and I crash my mountain bike regularly and spectacularly but there are so many other ways to fall and I’ve done them all. You can fall in love, fall out of favor and if you’re lucky you can fall asleep. I’ve fallen just about every way a man can fall so I know that gravity works.
I know what a balut tastes like. For the fortunate among you that don’t know what a balut is, it’s something that should never go in your mouth. For some reason people in the Philippines decided that a developed duck embryo was food if you boil it, but they were wrong. No amount of boiling could ever make a developed duck embryo taste like food and I know from experience, no amount of beer can make it okay to put a balut in your mouth. To quote Forrest Gump (and you should always quote Forrest Gump), “That’s all I have to say about that.”
Thrill seeking is overrated. I know that sounds like something an old guy would say but, now that I’m an old guy, I’m thinking there might be more to life than traveling around the world seeking thrills. It’s true that there’s great adventure to be had exploring the South Pole, working the deck of a carrier at night and surfing in New Zealand. Then again it’s also true that it’s freezing in Antarctica, there’s no beer on an aircraft carrier and there are large Maori women in New Zealand … sometimes the price of thrill seeking is pretty high.
I don’t mean to say that you shouldn’t live a thrilling life. I’ve explored the South Pole, worked a carrier and surfed in New Zealand but none of that matched the thrill of watching my kids and grandkids take their first steps. The best thrills aren’t sought and they don’t cost you anything … they reward you.
There is nothing as nasty as a road trip with teenaged boys. I’ve followed longitudes and latitudes all the way around the globe and I’ve never encountered anything as disgusting as the smell of a vanload of high school wrestlers.
With apologies to Mr. Twain I’ll try to find something more interesting to write about next week. Until then respect gravity, embrace natural thrills and avoid large Maori women, baluts and teenaged boys. I warned you I didn’t know much.
Rick Seley is an award-winning humor columnist. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.