My father always told me that the day we stop learning is the day we die. I wrote this as a sort of preparation for my 35th birthday last week. Some of these are poignant, others are simply trite; I attribute the latter to my growing sense of sentimentality as I age. That, and I need an editor.
Allow me to present some of the hard-learned lessons of my time thus far:
The Opposite Sex
- “Unrequited” does not mean the same thing as “platonic”.
- They call them crushes for a reason.
- She wants you to listen, not to offer a solution to what she’s venting about.
- There are few things better than a quiet moment with your wife.
- Do your best to get past your regrets. Your flaws are not as close to the surface as you think.
- Schadenfreude is unseemly, but not when your friends are a bunch of assholes.
- Spend time with as many well-behaved dogs as you can.
- Vulgarity for shock is banal. If you want to curse, do it creatively, and in a torrent.
- Atheist or evangelical, the more you talk about how others should live, the less anyone will want to talk to you.
- As you age, your dependencies deepen and your opportunities narrow. Try not to think of these in a negative light.
- Get to know someone who has survived addiction. It will change your perspective on pretty much everything.
- If you are able, take joy in cooking for others. If you aren’t, set the table.
- Never mind the culinary education. Two weeks as a dishwasher in any decent restaurant will tell you everything you need to know about the industry, and whether you belong there or not.
- Even the worst apartment kitchen can be improved by buying some decent knives. Buy them individually as you learn to use them.
- Food is neither a fashion nor a way of life. Avoid eating meals with anyone who describes themselves as a “foodie”.
- Pick a drink. Stick with it.
- Never be the guy at a dive bar asking for something exotic that they ain’t got.
- Don’t wait til you’re already ordering to ask your girlfriend what she wants to drink.
- Get on the wagon every once in a while. If only to appreciate that first sip a little bit more than the last.
- It’s hard to overestimate the affection you will hold for those who’ve been through tumultuous circumstance with you.
- Guys have difficulty empathizing. If your friend has some shitty news, shut up and buy him a beer already.
- Tact and tolerance can go a long way towards keeping you out of fights, but sometimes that guy really is asking for it.
- Losing friends is inevitable. Making enemies is not.
- Having a good tailor is important; talking too much about having one is a pretension.
- Find a good place to get your alterations done. This is most likely not where you get your dry-cleaning done.
- Gentlemen remove their hats indoors.
- Never apologize for two days of stubble. It lengthens the appearance of the jaw, and some ladies like that kind of thing.
- Recognize the time value of money, and start spending appropriately.
- Overtip everybody. Doormen, valets, bartenders - their job is in fact tougher than yours. They have to put up with people like you all day.
- Debt, no matter how creatively structured, is anathema to peace of mind.
- Leisure travel is expensive, but it is by no means an indulgence.
- Debates over terminology and semantics are for archivists and academics. If you’re interested in the living heart of what you do, focus on building things rather than talking about them.
- No one gives a damn about the size of your to-do list.
- How we handle ambiguity and failure have a lot to do with our potential for success.
- Your reputation is more important than your paycheck, and your integrity is worth more than your career.