Food For Thought

10 Things Every Person Must Do When They Are Growing Up

01.) Make Friends With The Kid Your Parents Warn You About.
While I can’t vouch for how well he will treat you, the quality of the friendship you will have with him, or if you will come out of the friendship unscathed, he will teach you how to drink and cuss, how to roll and cigarette, resourceful ways to find porno, and a number of other handy things that the friends your parents want you to have don’t know anything about.

02.) Take Hallucinogenic Drugs At Least Once.
And, if possible, I recommend going through a period where you take a bunch. For your own safety, I do not recommend white drugs of any kind, as you don’t learn much from them, and they cost way too much money. But the right combination of friends, locations, and microdot can make all the difference in the world between general teenage malaise, and being able to cope with how silly this universe actually is.

03.) The Higher You Can Climb, The More Fun You Will Have.
This is like one of those equations that you can count on every single time. Drinking a six pack with your friends is great. Doing it in a treehouse is better. Getting on top of your High School after hours = even better. There isn’t actually a lot of reason or logic that goes with this one, except that the places that are the most fun to climb up onto are often places that you are not supposed to go. There is a corollary to this rule that says that ‘No Tresspassing’ = ‘More Fun’, but if you are going to take that bit of advice, I would do some remedial research about security systems, cameras, guards, and the likelihood that someone is carrying a gun.

04.) Sneaking Out Of The House.
During the years that you live with your parents, you are required by law to sneak out of the house after they have gone to sleep. Weather they would give you permission anyway is a moot point. You need to leave the house when they do not know you have left, and you must return home before they wake up. What you do while you are gone is your own choice.

05.) Break Something.
This one is tricky, because going to jail, earning the ire of your neighbors, and vandalism in general is never acceptable, and in a lot of ways, isn’t really the goal anyway. But it is important to find something large, or something made of glass, and smash it in a terribly violent way that does not injure anyone, but makes a lot of noise and leaves a huge mess. (So as to not get called an asshole, keep in mind that littering does not build character, put hair on your chest, or make you remotely attractive. We call it a dick move. Clean up after yourself.

06.) Start A Band.
You do not have to become famous, record an album, or even play live more than once. But at some point you must start a band of some kind, with a defined logo, at least four songs, and grand plans that never come to fruition. The more high concept, the better. Bands like this should be started with a childhood friend from “way back,” but barring that option, start it with the friend from #1.

07.) Swear.
Loudly, vehemently, and often. If there is a word you are ever told, by anyone, that you are not allowed to say, it is your duty to learn as much about that word as possible, invent new and colorful ways in which to invoke it, and begin using it as often as possible. While the big seven are really the ones to latch onto, keep in mind that in the right context, and with the right people, that there are quite a few words that suddenly qualify. There are no bad words, merely narrow minds.

08.) Read & Write.
A little milquetoast on the surface, yes, but most people dedicated to print will tell you that the most subversive idea imaginable is to give someone a window into your thoughts and ideas through the written word. Text is not merely a way to bore yourself, but a conduit through which terrible and horrific notions can come to life, play out their grisly lives, and quietly die in the backs of our minds, to add to the compost that feeds our everyday thoughts and ideas. Scarier than anything your parents could ever warn you about, what you are ingesting with a flashlight beneath covers is often just as dangerous as any drug you take, and therefore, must be done with intense regularity.

09.) Walk Out On A Job That You Hate.
As you get older, the balls it takes to do something like this will slowly shrivel away, and as paying bills and being responsible becomes more and more important, it will be harder and harder to enjoy the satisfaction that comes with telling an employer you don’t like that they can, “Fuck Off.” When you are young, there are a hundred shitty jobs that are looking for teens every single day, and you will be able to recover very quickly. But until you have hosed down your manager in the dish pit, burned an apron out of frustration, or simply stormed off in the middle of a lunch rush, you will never know the true joy that comes from letting a shitty boss stew in his own juices while you’re off enjoying an unexpected day off.

10.) Tell Your Parents They Are Wrong.
Because they are. When they were your age, they did the same things, and thought their parents were wrong for denying those things. It goes on and on. While they will not believe it, or remember, or realize it, only the hindsight of middle age has helped me realize that, yes, they were. And if I ever am a parent, that I will be, too.

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4 thoughts on “Food For Thought

  1. >#4 is really crucial.I'm surprised by your #2 though. For some reason I thought you were anti-drug, or at least not at all a drug-doer.

  2. >I'm friends with kiisu. That should have given you a big clue right there. I posed this idea today to two of my co-workers, and one of them (a father, I might add) classified this list as "Uncle Wisdom." I think that is totally appropriate; not only can I picture almost all of these things coming out of the mouths of my Uncles, I think it appropriately categorizes this kind of advice instantaneously. I started thinking about this list after I finished the last class with my students this year. I was trying to weigh the relative value of what they were supposed to have learned this term. I'll let you draw your own imagined conclusions as to what this might have looked like.As you can guess, the learning hopes you have for the work your students do doesn't always match up with the material evidence you see at the end of the term. I imagined that the subject itself was just not appealing, thus preventing real student interest from developing. I was trying to imagine a course where, instead of subjects like this, you try to teach things students will need to know to serve them their entire lives. What kind of life lessons do I think are crucial in order to become a valuable member of our society? Very quickly, the course I imagined veered quite a ways from the usual kind of class you would find at any University.It came down to this disconnect: there are things I think are extremely important life lessons that you can only learn from operating outside the prescribed structures of academia. There are things I want to say to students that I know they should hear ("A steady diet of Rock & Roll is the cornerstone of any sane human lifestyle!"), but can't entirely rationalize in my role as an educator. To frame this advice in a way that will actually connect to someone hearing it, I would need to adopt a persona outside that of authoritarian, parent, or peer, and yet retain the respect that a wise elder with real advice would need in order to be taken seriously. Thus, Uncle Wisdom. To extend the metaphor, an Uncle is still part of the family, and thus his advice does command a bit of respect. But an Uncle also doesn't have the overprotective tendency that parents regularly exercise. Furthermore, the Uncle's province is often that of the seedier elements of life. This is the man people turn to when bartering is essential, who has his own lawyer, and who can spot a con artist a mile away. This is a specialized realm of knowledge that is necessary to our survival as a species, but is best left in the hands of people who already have a record. As technology reshapes the way we interact and learn about the world around us, there becomes an even bigger need to make sure that we do not loose certain skills that will serve us our entire life. I think that a good dose of Uncle Wisdom, properly utilized and considered, can lead to a well-rounded education you can't get in a classroom. Just sayin'.

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