The New Year at the Gym: Here We Go Again…

The new year is upon us, 2016 to be exact. As always, many folks have resolved that this is the year they will lose those unwanted pounds and get in top shape. How do I know? I’ve belonged to a gym for many years, and I see these folks every January. Today is January 1, and I saw them at the gym. Oh, they weren’t working out (after all, it’s a holiday). They were getting tours of the gym, meeting with trainers and signing contracts. Soon though, they will descend upon the gym like New Years Eve revelers.

I used to rail against the Resolvers, scoffing at their half-hearted efforts knowing that they would fall by the wayside within a few weeks. I’ve changed. I welcome them. Everyone should exercise. I am 53 and in quite good condition, especially compared to my peers. I feel good, both physically and mentally. Why should I begrudge that to others just because they get in my way for a few weeks?

Rather than resent the Resolvers, I want to help them. Understand that I am not an athletic trainer. I am not an athlete. I do, however, go the gym quite often–6 or 7 days week. If I’m on the road, I find hotels with gyms. If I can’t find one, I find a local gym that will let me workout for a small fee. I’ve been to gyms all over the country, from New York City to Hawaii. I know the rules, both written and unwritten. If you’re a Resolver, please read on. It will save us all some grief.

BE REASONABLE 

If you haven’t worked out in a while, act like it. “In a while” also means “ever.” Most people in the gym have been there before. They have workout routines that reflect their experience. You, on the other hand, need a routine that reflects your years of sloth. That may sound harsh, but it’s true.

You’ll see people who look like you want to look, with trim waists and rippling muscles. It is tempting to watch what they do and copy it. Stop. These people are working out like trim-waisted, rippling-muscled people. You need to work out like a flabby, doughy person. There’s nothing wrong with that, by the way. Your ideal may be doing 30 pound curls. You might need to do 5 pound curls. Do them.

You also must squash your ego. This is especially true for men. We want to throw around weights like they’re pie pans. We can’t, of course. Don’t worry about how much you bench press. Sure, it’s a tad deflating to realize you can only bench 50 pounds. Hey, 50 pounds is better than nothing. People aren’t watching you. The people who can really lift are concerned only with themselves. They don’t care what you lift. Note how often they look in the mirror. Trust me–they (we?) aren’t trying to catch a glimpse of you.

A good way to learn reasonableness is with a trainer. Trainers vary in skill. Some aren’t very good, but all of them know how to get a new person started on an exercise regimen. Maybe you have a friend who works out regularly. He or she can help you. Start slow. Workout warriors weren’t born that way. Neither were you.

LEARN BEFORE THE BURN

Gyms are full of equipment. A lot of it is strange looking and not easily understood. This doesn’t stop the novice from climbing aboard and fumbling about. Usually, there will be an illustration on the equipment demonstrating proper use. If that doesn’t work, ask a gym employee. Again, a trainer can help.

If you don’t use a trainer, educate yourself on how to exercise. Weightlifting, in particular, requires certain routines for maximum results. You might work different muscles on different days. Rest is important. Strength training is different than toning or even muscle building. You have to know the differences.

Several years ago, I made the acquaintance of a former NFL player who also spent some time in prison. He described what he called a “jailhouse workout.” By that, he meant lifting with no program–a few curls, a few reps on the bench, a few random leg exercises. He said prisoners don’t have enough equipment or time to do it right. Hey, if you’re jail, do what you can. Otherwise, get a plan.

If you’re grossly overweight, you really must learn first. I know–it’s not good to say that people are overweight or “fat.” Come on, we know that’s the case. Losing weight is a process, not an event. You have to attack it a pound at a time. Becoming a crunch beast won’t help much if your six pack is buried under a foot of fat. Talk to a doctor. Get a trainer. Just get to work.

ETIQUETTE

Your new gym will have an array of rules about attire, use of equipment and sundry courtesies. These are all good, but most gym etiquette is just common sense. Here are the big rules:

Clean Up: If you use free weights, re-rack them. It’s simple. Put them back where you got them. They’ll be on racks in ascending order from lowest to highest weight. An idiot can do it, but you’ll be surprised at how many idiots don’t. If you can help it, don’t be an idiot.

Seriously, Clean Up: No one wants to use equipment drenched in your sweat. There’s just no debate here. Wipe down the equipment.

Look But Within Reason: I direct this to my fellow men. Most gyms today are co-ed. Every gym has attractive women wearing attire not normally seen in public. It’s pretty cool. You can look. To some extent, it’s expected perhaps even welcome. Don’t go full-on perv. If you follow a woman around so that you can maintain a good view, it will be noticed. Much as it might surprise you, they aren’t looking back at you.

Silence Is Golden: I’ve been going to the same gym for years. I’ve gotten to know some of the regulars. We’ll occasionally talk, but it’s always brief. Regulars are there to work out, not chat. You should do the same. Most gym regulars are glad to share pointers or answer questions, but we aren’t there to socialize.

Cover It Up: By “it,” I mean everything. No one is comfortable around naked people, even in a gym locker room. There’s no need to be naked for any extended period. Don’t strike up a conversation while you’re naked. Don’t get naked and then start rooting around in your locker. There should be absolutely no bending over. Don’t get naked and stand and watch TV. It’s just weird, and people hate it. Those who parade about naked are also men who shouldn’t do so anywhere. They are usually old guys with a variety of obvious physical flaws which are wholly unappealing.

Of course, I speak only of the men’s locker. Like all men, I imagine the women’s locker room populated by super models who wear skimpy towels when they aren’t showering together. An objective look at most women in the gym reveals that they may have the same unsightly issues as the men.

Dress The Part: Even being clothed can be done wrong. Jeans, khakis, work boots and other fashion failures must be avoided. Look the part. A t-shirt and shorts will work. Sweat pants are perfect. A middle-aged man in a wrestling singlet is not welome anywhere. Bicycle shorts, short-shorts and skin-tight apparrel must all be evaluated with an eye toward aesthetics. What is athletic–even alluring–on one person is vile and revolting on another. In these politically correct times, I realize that it is frowned upon to say that any one person is more attractive than another. Some people look better than others. Get a full-length mirror and judge for yourself.

STICK WITH IT

I believe that no one stays with exercise if he or she doesn’t like it. Experiment with different routines. Maybe you prefer cardio work to weights. That’s okay. Better to do cardio alone, than nothing at all.

Nothing ends an exercise program as quickly as an injury. Injuries are different than some pain. If you haven’t worked out in years, you’re going to have some aches and pains. When you get to my age-53 at this writing–you’re going to have some aches. If you over do it–lifting too much weight, for example–you will get injured. An injury will shut you down. That’s the quickest path to quitting. Even if you get injured, there’ll be other exercises you can do. Do those.

So, there you have it. I welcome you to my world. Now, get out of the way, and let me work out. Good luck.

©www.thetrivialtroll.com 2016

How To Win a Fight…or Die Trying.

I don’t fight people, at least not physically. As I write this, I’m 52 years old, and that’s just too old to fight. Truthfully, I never was much of fighter. Nevertheless, I’ve been in a few fights. I grew in Harlan County, Kentucky, deep in the mountains of Appalachia where people have a reputation of being rough and tough. I enjoyed no such reputation and for good reason. I am neither rough nor tough; however, these deficiencies give me great insight into the world of street fighting.

I haven’t been in fight in about 30 years or so. Even that fight was not impressive, as I was forced to fight a girl. You can read about that here. How, you might ask, would a man of such limited prowess ever even get in a fight? In my youth, I possessed two traits which made the occasional dust up unavoidable–a big mouth and small body. Pour strong drink into that mix, and you get in fights. The more I drank, the more I ran mouth. The more my mouth ran, the more people wanted to shut it. They would then size me up and determine that giving me a beating would be fairly easy.

I’m not offering any advice on how to start a fight. Starting one is easy. Mouth off, look funny at the wrong person, throw a punch and other offensive behavior will do the trick. I want you to know how to survive a fight. Here are the things you need to know:

PUNCHING IS OVERRATED

You know how in movies a guy will knock someone out with one punch?  That doesn’t happen in real fights, except by accident. Hitting someone in the face is difficult. Unless you are battling Mr. Potato Head or the Elephant Man, the human head is a small target. Hitting it with one punch is almost impossible, especially if the person is trying NOT to get hit. The exception to this is the Sucker Punch (discussed below). The other problem is that punching a head only works if you hit the face. The rest of the head is very hard as it consists of a thin layer of flesh and a really hard human skull. Punching a skull hurts.

Punching someone can hurt the puncher more than the punchee. I suspect this is because hands are made for such things as holding pencils and tying shoes. They aren’t made for beating things, hence the invention of the hammer. If you punch someone two or three times in the face, your hands are going to be pretty banged up. That hurts.

If you must punch, know your targets. The nose is great because it hurts and bleeds like hell. You will at the very least stun your opponent, if only momentarily. The throat is great, too, but almost impossible to hit. Under the armpit or directly under the rib cage are great, too; however, if you miss even a little, you won’t do any damage.

Real life punching is also goofy looking. You won’t look like Floyd Mayweather throwing a punch. Your punch will more like a close-fisted slap. You also are likely to be throwing the punch off the wrong foot, destroying any leverage you might have had. You likely have the wrong kind of hands for punching, just like me. I have bony hands with sharp, protruding knuckles. I know that sounds good, but it isn’t. I’m not a doctor, but I’ve determined that human knuckles are made of some kind of styrofoam-like material that crushes easily. Hit something two or three times and your knuckles will swell up and be useless.

Note your author's bony, protruding knuckles. These are ill-suited for a fist fight.

Note your author’s bony, protruding knuckles. These are ill-suited for a fist fight.

The best kind of fist for punching is a big, fat one that doesn’t even look like a fist. It looks like meat mallet. If you have those at the ends of your arms, use them.

KICKING IS UNDERRATED

Just as the punch gets way too much credit, the kick is virtually ignored. No, I’m not talking about some fancy karate-like spinning back kick. If you can do that, you should be out fighting all the time just to show off. I mean a kick like trying to kick someone in the testicles or the face.

The kick has several advantages. One, it doesn’t hurt like a punch. Two, it can create valuable space between you and your assailant (or victim, as the case may be). This space can be used for such tactics as running or head down bull rush. Third, if properly executed the kick delivers more force than a punch. The kick best applied when your opponent is on the ground. Despite what you’ve heard, kicking a man when he’s down is perfectly acceptable in a fight. In fact, it’s often necessary.

I must here mention the martial arts. I greatly respect any person who has mastered one of these ancient forms of self-defense. These people need no advice from the likes of me. Mastery is the key. As I once heard, martial arts teach you one of two things: (1) how to kill someone with your bare hands; or (2) just enough to get your ass kicked.

FIGHT DIRTY

This caption is deceptive. There isn’t any dirty fighting. If you want rules, become a boxer. Regular fights don’t have rules. Here are some moves to consider:

  • Sucker Punch: This is hitting a person when he doesn’t see if coming. This is the mark of coward, but it could win a fight for you before it starts.
  • Eye Gouging: This is an underutilized tactic. There are plenty of badasses who will dare you to punch them. None of them will dare you to gouge their eyes.
  • Groin Smash: If you’re male, I need say no more. If you’re female, well…I just don’t know what to tell you.
  • Clawing: I’m not talking about scratching (unless that’s necessary, of course). Clawing is similar to the gouge, except you can apply it anywhere (see Groin Smash above).
  • Rabbit Punch: This is a punch in the back of the head. This isn’t recommended because of the relative strength of the back of the human skull; however, you might want to just take a shot if you are running away.

These are just a few tactics you can use. During the heat of battle, you may think of many more. Try them all.

RUNNING

Running gets a bad rap. Many times, it is your last, best defense. The shame of running is no worse than the shame of getting a thorough beating and hurts it less. No one call tell you when to run. You must judge when the tide has turned. Profuse bleeding is usually a good sign. Unfortunately, many of us wait one punch or kick too late to utilize this move. For instance, I was once kicked in the stomach while on my hands and knees. At that moment, I thought “I need to run.” That thought was followed by another kick. Too late to run. Use your judgment.

AVOID WEAPONRY

I can’t emphasize this one enough. It’s bad enough to get in a fight. It’s even worse when you get killed. Weapons are good for that. For example, you might think hitting someone with a chair is a good move. You’ve seen movies and know that chairs splinter when they contact a human form. They don’t. They just hurt like hell (This all assumes you are strong enough to swing a chair like a club). You hit someone with a chair, beer mug, nunchucks, etc., and you better hope he doesn’t have access to something more deadly. You might find yourself at a gun fight armed with a chair.

CHOOSE YOUR OPPONENT

You don’t have to fight everyone with whom you have a conflict. If your potential opponent is a large, dangerous-looking man (or woman), you might want to think twice. You can save face by saying something like “Hey, dude, I don’t want any trouble.” That’s not cowardly. It has air of a man who has seen his share of trouble and wants to find a better way. If that doesn’t work, see RUNNING above.

Bear in mind, too, that there are people who actually like to fight. These people are deranged and will kill you. Avoid them. Sadly, usually we only discover this during the fight.

AVOID OLD MEN

I offer this for the young people. When you’re a young man, you feel indestructible to some extent. You are at your physical peak and look with pity at the middle-aged or older man, with his wife, kids, job and mortgage. This false sense of superiority often causes a young man to be mouthy or threatening. I know, for I was once young. Here’s some advice: Leave the old guys alone. Here’s why:

  • Old Man Strong: I don’t why–and science can’t explain it–but old guys are strong. They don’t look like it with their beer bellies and flabby arms, but they are. Even skinny old guys are strong. You will underestimate this, and he will beat your ass.
  • Old Man Don’t Care: Unlike a young fellow, an old guy isn’t concerned about losing a tooth or getting a black eye. He has no bright future ahead of him. He’ll wade right into you. It will catch off guard. Then you’re trouble.
  • Old Man Courage: Old guys don’t scare easily. Maybe it’s because they’ve  seen a lot or maybe they just don’t give a damn. Fights are scary. They get your adrenalin pumping. Old guys don’t get rattled. They just wail away.
  • Old Man Mystery: Let’s say you’re a college age man and you get in a fight over something you said in a bar. Chances are that your opponent is about like you–college guy, drunk, mouthy, etc. You know what you’re dealing with. Now, add 30 years to that guy. For all you know, he got out of prison yesterday after 20 years for skinning some guy just like you. It’s best not to find out.
  • Old Man Army: He could also be Marines, Navy, Air Force or even Coast Guard. If you fight an old fellow, you just might be locking horns with a military veteran. Bad, bad move. These guys are just waiting for someone like you. It’s better to apologize and buy him a drink.

Just as boxers should stay in their weight class, you should stay in your age class. If you are an old guy, at some point, some young guy will mouth off to you. Have at it.

Those are my tips. Of course, none of this applies if you are a large, dangerous person or just psychotically violent. If so, you need no pointers me. I’m certainly not trying to tell you what to do or suggesting that you can’t handle yourself quite well. Take no offense. I’m not looking for any trouble.

©www.thetrivialtroll.com 2015

Oh, Dear Me

It’s become quite popular for folks to write letters to themselves. Seriously, it has.  Sometimes, they’ll write to their young selves and offer advice.  Maybe you’ve written a letter to your future self full positive affirmations and whatnot.  There are even websites offering tips on writing to yourself, where in the future or the past .

I’ve never done this, mostly because I’ve written very few letters in my life (with the notable exception of business letters of which I’ve written thousands).   I once had a therapist suggest that I write a letter to myself.  Like most suggestions, I ignored it.

Today is my birthday.  I am 52 years old.  I spend little time thinking about the past.  There’s nothing I can do about it, so I might as well move on. My birthday is the only time I wax nostalgic.  I’m not sure why, but I do.

Current Me has no advice for Young Me.  Young Me wouldn’t take advice anyway.  Plus, if I write Young Me and tell him all the things that will happen over the years, he might be terrified.  Young Me was quite prone to worry.  No need to make him fret.

I’m also not interested in writing Future Me.  I have no idea how old Future Me will be.  Future Me already knows everything that Current Me and Young Me know, plus a bunch of other stuff.   Who am I to annoy him with my advice?  Maybe he should write Current Me a letter.  That might actually be helpful.  At least I’d read it.

The letter I’d really like to see would one from Young Me to Current Me.  I don’t remember much about that dude.  It might be to nice get his take on my current situation.  Perhaps I’ll write him a letter which will compel him to respond.  It would read something like this:

Dear Me:

Thanks for your recent letter.  I appreciate all the advice, but I’ll be fine doing things my way.

I’m doing okay, I guess.  I’m in college and planning to go to law school.  I guess you know all that.  Sounds like I end up doing alright.  To be honest, I can’t imagine how it worked out like that.  I feel like I don’t know what I’m doing most of the time.

I’m glad to see that things have gone well for you (us?).  I’m quite surprised that you’ve been married for over 25 years.  I can’t keep a girlfriend for more than a few months. Now, you tell me that I’ll be married in just a few years. Is sour wife really ugly?  I’ve always worried that I’ll have to settle for some homely chick.  Next time, send me a picture of her.  Then again, maybe it’s best I don’t know.

You have three kids?  And none of them are psychopaths or grievously mentally ill?  I’m barely able to care for myself.  I’ve messed myself up in a lot of ways.  I can’t imagine what I would do to kids. 

It’s a relief to know that you made it through law school and actually got a job.  I appreciate your suggestion that I pay more attention in school, but you forget that there’s a lot going on in my world.  When I’m not brooding, I try to have a good time.  School isn’t my idea of a good time. 

I’ll admit that I’m a bit sad to know that you aren’t super-rich or famous or anything like that. I hoped I’d make a bunch of money doing something and then not have to actually work.  Oh, well.

Hey, you didn’t have to tell me about Mom and Dad dying.  Obviously, they will at some point, but it’s better to leave that a mystery.  I’m pretty much completely dependent on them right now. I suppose I really will have to fend for myself at some point.

I was intrigued by your observation that Mom and Dad are actually right about almost everything they’ve told me.  Your memory might be failing you.  I still think I know better than they do. 

I was pleased to find out you’re 52 YEARS OLD!  I never expected to last that long.  That’s great.  As I write this, Dad is in his early 60’s.  I can’t imagine being that old.  Good work.  Hopefully, I won’t do anything to mess that up.  Of course, I guess I won’t, since you were able to write me. 

Thanks for the picture. You didn’t get real fat or bald, but I see you got Dad’s white hair.  I’ve always expected that to happen.  You still kind of look like me but not really.  I’m not sure I would recognize you if we passed on the street.  You really are starting to look like Dad, which I never expected.

Did you become a pompous know-it-all like most people your age that I know?  I hope notPlease don’t go around telling everyone else how to live their lives.  Be especially sure to take it easy on the lecturing.  Honestly, no one wants to hear it.

Here’s another thing to remember:  Let your sons be themselves.  They’re going to do that anyway, so you might as well help them.  I know, because I’m living through that right now.  Yes, they’ll disappoint you sometimes, but they don’t mean to do it.  It happens.  Be sure they know you love them regardless. 

Don’t hammer your kids too much when they make mistakes.  Believe or not, they usually know.  I’m not saying to ignore the problems–you know Dad never did!  Just take it easy.

I must take exception to some of your counsel.  How do you know that I’ve never been in love?  Again, your memory fails you.  You’re falling prey to one of the worst mistakes people your age make–you forgot what’s like to be young. 

While we’re on that subject, being young isn’t a barrel of laughs all the time.  I worry about my future and occasionally do hideously stupid things.  You might remember it as nothing but a bunch of good times, but there are plenty of bad ones, too.  Don’t waste any of your time wanting to be me.

I always figured I’d contract some horrible disease or die young in a stupid accident of some sort.  Future Me must have done something right along the way.  I can’t fathom that I will do all that you described in your letter. 

To you, I’m sure it seems that I did all I could to stand in your way and make life difficult.  Mostly, I did the best I knew to do at the time.  Even when it wasn’t the best I could do, I still did something. Instead of telling me what you think I need to know, you should perhaps forgive me for some of the mistakes I made.  I’m sure you’d do the same for your sons.  

As an aside, nice try with the “smart phone” nonsense. There’s no way that everyone carries a phone with them all the time. Do you really expect me to believe that your telephone has more computing power than any computer in my time?  You send written messages to people with it?  Listen to music?  Read newspapers on it?  C’mon.  I know you’re in the future, but you’re not on Star Trek. 

In closing, thanks again for the letter.  Take care of yourself.  We should try to hang around as long as possible.  After all, we don’t want to get a letter from Future You telling us how we’ve screwed up his old age.

Your friend,

Me

 

ATTENTION YOUNG PEOPLE: THINGS THEY WON’T TELL YOU

During this graduation season, I always have the urge to offer my unsolicited advice to young people.  Why?  Because that’s how I am.  I’m middle-aged and think I know everything. Of course, I don’t, but I do know more than most young people.  Young folks are bombarded with advice from parents, friends and even strangers.  Most of that advice is ignored.  That’s not necessarily bad.  Take a look at who’s offering the advice.  Could be that they don’t know what the hell they’re talking about it.

On the other, maybe they know a lot of stuff, but just pass on the same poor advice they received in their youth.  Strictly speaking, I’m not offering advice here, as much as I’m critiquing advice.  You’re going to be told things that either just aren’t true or are too simplistic.  Who tells you things?  They do, of course.  They know a lot and are anxious to tell you about it.  Watch them, though.  They may not be as smart as they think they are.

Here are five of those things they’ll tell you–and what they won’t say:

1.  HARD WORK PAYS OFF

Hey, I’ve got nothing against hard work.  In fact, if I were giving advice, I’d advise you to work hard.  It’s difficult to accomplish much unless you make some effort.  Here’s what they won’t tell you:  Just because you work hard doesn’t mean it will pay off.  Let’s say that you really aren’t very good at something, but you work hard.  Chances are that the more you work, the more mistakes you’ll make.  You’ll make a bad situation worse.

Another problem is that hard work simply doesn’t always pay off.  You know who works hard?  Farmers.  A lot of farmers barely get by.  Their hard work can get ruined by weather, insects, the economy or plain old bad luck. A lot of jobs are like that.  Just because you work hard doesn’t mean you’ll be the CEO or that your lazy boss will even care.  Sorry, but that’s true.

So, work hard, but work smart.  If your hard work gets you nowhere, then go somewhere else or do something else.

2.  YOU HAVE A SOUL MATE

Well-meaning people will tell you that you have a soul mate, that person that God or fate has selected for you.  This person, among all the people you meet, is The One.  Find this person, and you will live happily ever after.

Think about this.  There are 7 billion people on Earth–half male, half female. That’s 3.5 billion for you.  I’ll concede that some of those will be too young under societal taboos.  Let’s say there are a billion or two available to you.  So, somewhere among those billion or so people is one for you.  Only one.  Assuming you can actually cross paths with this one person, you’ll have to know it.  Then you’ll have to do something about it.  Complicating matters is that this person must also recognize his or her good fortune. If you’re bisexual, the odds getting even greater or maybe they’re better–I can’t figure it out.  Regardless, good luck with all of that.

Half of all marriages end in divorce.  This means we are woefully incompetent at finding our soul mates.  Our soul mates are also incompetent, because they should have found us, too.  It also means that God has a twisted sense of humor.  He made us a soul mate, yet made it damn near impossible to find that person.

3.  MONEY ISN’T IMPORTANT

They’ll tell you that happiness is better than money.  Of course, it is, but that doesn’t mean money isn’t important.  I’ve had times that I lived paycheck to paycheck and times I didn’t.  The times I didn’t were better.

The old saw tells us that money can’t buy happiness.  This is true, but it can buy comfort.  Comfort isn’t necessarily happiness but it sure helps.  It  can even make unhappiness a tad easier.  I say everyone should be happy.  But, if you can’t be happy, at least be comfortable.

All of this is much different from believing that money will actually make you unhappy.  Hey, I’ve known quite a few poor people, and they haven’t cornered the market on happiness, either.

There is a limit to the need for money.  Ponzi schemes, thievery and various forms of graft should be avoided, if for no other reason to avoid prison.  Prison will make you unhappy.

4. THIS IS THE BEST TIME OF YOUR LIFE

You’re a young adult.  You have your whole life ahead of you.  The world is your oyster.  This is the best time of your life.  Boy, I sure hope not.

What are you–18, 20 years old?  You should have 60+ more years left.  If this is the best time of your life, then you have a long slog to the grave ahead of you, assuming you even care to try.

By the way, you are an adult.  If you can vote, marry, sign contracts and join the military, that’s all for adults.  You also may not have a good job or be doing poorly in school or living in your parents’ basement.  If these are the best times for you, life is going to be tough.

I have to qualify this.  When is the best time of your life?  How should I know?  Actually, now should be, but now changes.  Now is the best time of my life, but I’m in my 50’s.  I intend for my 60’s to be the best, too.  Now matters.  I used to 18, but that was then.  So, maybe now is the best time of your life, but later should be too–except not right now.  Don’t peak at 18 years old.  There’s too much ground left to cover.

Is that confusing?  You bet it is.  Life is confusing.  When you’re my age, you’ll understand.

5. YOU CAN DO ANYTHING

This is the most dangerous advice you can receive, because it simply is not true.  You can’t or, at the very least, shouldn’t.  Oh, you can try.  (See Item No. 1 above).  You are likely to fail at certain things.  Most of us do.  Failure is temporary, unless you continue trying the same thing.  As you continue trying, at some point you become insane and then you really can’t do anything.

Have you ever heard this?  Failure is not an option.  Oh, how wrong that is.  Failure is always an option.

You may dream of being a professional athlete.  If you can’t do it, at some point you must stop trying.  The same applies to intellectual endeavors.  Maybe you’re not smart enough.  That’s not a sin.  It’s just a fact.

Bad luck is another stumbling block.  You might not get the opportunity to do whatever you want.  Paying bills, eating, living indoors and the like often take priority.

Here’s something that could happen.  You could end up with someone who is not your soul mate.  This person could be a mill stone around your neck keeping you from doing anything you want.  It happens.

You also might have really crappy judgment.  The things you want to do may be terrible ideas.  Mobile meth labs, amateur pornography and random death threats are examples.  Yes, you may well be able to do these things, but you’ll wish you hadn’t.

CONCLUSION

So, what’s my point?  I don’t really have one.  That’s one luxury of getting old.  You can talk and talk and make no sense, but people feel like they need to listen.  Now, go out there and work hard, find your soul mate, ignore money and do anything you want to do.  This is the best time of your life or so they say.

©www.thetrivialtroll.com 2014

 

Are You Mad? The Five Signs of Lunacy

If you’re anything like me, you occasionally wonder if you are going insane or, perhaps, are already there.  “Insane” isn’t really the right word.  That’s actually more of a legal term, requiring some sort of adjudication of your condition. Few of us will ever reach the point that such measures are necessary.   Madness and lunacy are much better terms.  Regardless of whether you call it madness, lunacy, bonkers or just plain crazy, we all think about it from time to time.  (We don’t?  Hmmm.  Maybe it’s just me.  That’s not good at all.)

In any event, I have identified certain markers of madness that may benefit others.  These tell-tale signs should be used as warnings  that we are close to veering off the path of the well-balanced into the median of lunacy.

I have had experience with all of these at various points in my life.  In fact, I’ve had days where I’ve experienced them all.  Those were not particularly good days, by the way.

I must qualify all of this by disclosing that I am NOT a mental health professional.  Indeed, I have no medical or psychological training whatsoever.  I am particularly unqualified to diagnose any condition or to offer any advice regarding appropriate treatment.  So, should you actually be a lunatic, do not contact me for advice.  In fact, don’t contact me at all.  You could be dangerous, you know.

1. YOU ARE VERY IMPORTANT

Have you ever thought that you are a very important person, a VIP as it were?  Now, I’m not talking about being important to your family or friends. Don’t confuse this with being important to your dog, either.  Your dog thinks you are the lead dog.  If you think you are a dog, that’s another set of issues altogether.

I’m talking about general importance.  Your opinions are important, for example.  If people disagree with you, it is an outrage.  They are fools, because you are always correct.  Those who disagree with you are Communists, racists, homophobes, anarchists, ne’er do wells, welfare queens, robber barons or many other such disagreeable sorts, depending upon your particular view of the world.  These people lack your intelligence and insight.  They don’t know as much as you know.  Not only are these people wrong, they–and the rest of us–MUST know your opinion on everything for you are important and must be heard.

Chances are that you are like most us and only want to listen to people with whom you agree.  It’s likely–almost certain, in fact–that the only people who want to listen to you are those who share the same views as you.  Everyone else doesn’t want to listen to it.  Sorry, but that’s how it goes.  If you can’t accept that, madness lurks just around the corner.

Have you ever had the urge to say “Don’t you know who I am?”  I know I have.  Sadly, I’ve even said if before–and not just to myself, either.  Perhaps, if I were–say–George Clooney that would make some sense.  But, if I were George Clooney people would actually know who I am, and I wouldn’t have to say it.  Even thinking that is bad.  Thinking it may be even worse, because you might believe people do know who you are when they really don’t.  Then, you just walk around thinking that you shouldn’t have to stand in lines or wait in traffic or pay your bills or wear pants.  Maybe, we all should say it out loud every now and then just to be reminded that they don’t know who we are and don’t care.

2. YOUR JOB IS REALLY IMPORTANT

This could be a subset of the first sign above.  Your job may actually be important.  If you’re a firefighter, cop, oncologist or teacher you certainly have an important occupation.  People depend on you.  That is a good thing.  Don’t confuse that with your job making you important.

I am a lawyer.  I think that’s an important job.  My clients depend on me to get them the results they want.  Each case I handle is extremely important to those folks.  Many people don’t think much of lawyers.  We rank slightly above crack dealers and slightly below pimps in the public’s view.  Used car dealers and insurance salesman are viewed largely the same.  Yet, we all think we’re important.  The painful truth is that a lot of people can do our jobs just as well–and even better–than we do.

Mathematician/Philosopher and all-round know-it-all Bertrand Russell once said that one of the signs of an impending nervous breakdown is the belief that your job is extremely important.  He was a lot smarter than I am, but I’m not sure that’s correct.  What I am sure of is that the belief that ME doing that job is extremely important is a bad sign.

I’m not irreplaceable.  Neither are you.  If you think you are, try this:  Go in to your place of business and quit.  I did that once.  Guess what?  They were fine without me.  Someone else started doing the stuff I had been doing, and everything continued on as usual.

I’ve worked with people who died unexpectedly.  People were really upset, some because they were human beings and others because death disrupts the workplace, what with the grieving and funerals and what have you.  Soon, though, we were trying to figure out who would get the deceased’s furniture or office.  Some of us were concerned that we might have to do more work.

So, the reality is that if you die at work, someone gets your credenza.  That’s it.

3. YOU HEAR STUFF

We all know that hearing things can be a bad sign.  Auditory hallucinations cause much trouble in the world.  Rarely do we read of “voices” saying things like “Have a good day” or “Be nice to someone.”  Usually, it’s stuff like “Eat that dog” or “Wear her skin as a vest.”  These voices–at least I’ve been told–seem real, so we do as they command.  If you’ve got that going on, for God’s sake, do something about it.

There is other stuff you can hear.  God, for example.  I’m not talking about something like a friend saying “God spoke to my heart.”  That’s a kind of metaphorical observation that means “I got this feeling.”  We’ve all had that.  I mean God actually talking and you possibly talking back.  Think of it like this:  God went silent late in the Old Testament.  Why would He start talking to you?  If it’s because you are really important, re-read my comments above.

Maybe the radio talks to you.  If you’re driving down the road screaming at Sean Hannity, that’s a problem.  He can’t hear you.  Perhaps you think 1970’s singer Dan Hill is crooning to you when you hear Sometimes When We Touch on the Oldies station.  He isn’t.  I used to think Olivia Newton-John was singing to me.  I don’t think that anymore, unless I’m watching Grease.

You may have pets.  You may love your pets more than any human.  Good for you, but they don’t talk.  Even if you talk to them in exaggerated baby talk that would embarrass any self-respecting infant, your dog or cat isn’t talking back.  If they do, just Google “Son of Sam” and stay far away from me.

Oh, don’t confuse this with seeing things.  There many benign explanations for this phenomenon–strong drink, drugs, poor lighting, etc.  Don’t worry about this unless the things you see start talking to you.

4. YOU DON’T TAKE YOUR MEDICATION

There’s nothing wrong with medication, assuming it’s prescribed and you need it.  Cymbalta, Wellbutrin, Zoloft and the like have done a world of good by altering troubling brain chemistry.  If you stop taking it, though, we have a problem.  This is especially true if you’re taking any sort of anti-psychotic medication.

When people start feeling better, they don’t want to take their medication anymore.  They are, in their dysfunctional minds, “cured.”  Here’s what you should do:  The day you stop taking your medication, note that this is the day you start down the road to full-blown lunacy.  You might even want to mark it on your calendar.

5. YOU BELIEVE IN CONSPIRACIES

We don’t need to belabor this point.  Suffice to say that if you believe in any vast conspiracy that has remained secret for many years, you are not firing on all cylinders.  Here is a just sampling of topics about which you may believe a conspiracy exists:

  • The moon landing
  • 9-11
  • Marilyn Monroe’s death
  • Elvis Presley’s death
  • Bob Denver’s death
  • The Kennedy Assassination
  • Barack Obama’s birthplace
  • The firing of the original Darren on Bewitched
  • Anything involving a “New World Order”
  • Area 51
  • Communists
  • Big Foot
  • Yeti
  • The Knicks winning the 1985 NBA Draft Lottery

This list could be 10 times longer, but we’ll stop for brevity’s sake.  There may be conspiracies peculiar to your own circumstances.  For instance, your child may do poorly in school.  You may believe that this is a result of teachers, administrators and fellow students conspiring against your child.  Consider that your child may not be very bright or could be down right lazy.  It happens.

Try this.  Go out and see if you can line up 10 people you know for or against anything.  It ain’t easy.  Imagine now that you were wanting to kill someone with their help.  Not likely.

Just repeat to yourself each day:  There are no conspiracies.  If you hear a voice repeating it back to you, well, you know.

CONCLUSION

These are the five markers of madness.  You’ll notice that I didn’t delve into actual mental illnesses such as bipolar disease, schizophrenia, depression and the like.  Again, I have no medical training.  These specific diagnoses are best left to the professionals or you can easily diagnose yourself by searching on the Internet for your particular symptoms.  Here is an educational video to help you better understand such diseases of the mind.

There is good news.  Any one of these peculiarities, standing alone, is likely no more than a sign that you are weird or–if you are wealthy–eccentric.  Two or more, sadly, point directly to crippling lunacy.  You may be fortunate and become pleasantly mad–like many town characters throughout our great land.

It’s time to stop–at least that’s what the voices are telling me.  You know how pushy they can be.

©thetrivaltroll.wordpress.com 2013

My Kindergarten Commencement Address

I have already tackled the difficult task of preparing a high school commencement speech.  Not surprisingly, no one took me up on my offer to speak at any high school commencement. High school, though, is not the only ground upon which to impart my wisdom.

Perhaps I should speak to a college or university. Public figures and captains of industry often do that. Alas, I am neither. That goal simply isn’t realistic.

What about elementary or middle school grads? I didn’t go to a middle school, so I don’t know anything about that. As far as those entering high school, most of them are morons and won’t listen anyway.

This leaves me with kindergarten, that Petri dish of preschoolers ready to take on real school. I graduated from kindergarten as part of the Harlan Kindergarten Class of 1968.  It was my only foray into private school, as there was no public kindergarten in those days.  I graduated with a haughty sense of entitlement.

kindergarten

Your author’s natty attire belied his naiveté as a kindergartener.

I would have benefited from wise counsel in those days.  I now stand ready to educate kindergarteners on what lies before them.  To paraphrase the late, great drummer, Buddy Rich:  These people.  They are my kind of people. So, here goes:

Hello, kids!  Thank you for allowing me to speak to you today.  Today is an important moment in your young lives.  After today, you are no longer preschoolers.  You are students and shall remain so for many years to come.

As you are no doubt aware, “kindergarten” is from the German, meaning “children’s garden.”  It was created by a German named Friederich Frobel in the village of Bad Blankenburg.  Stop giggling!  That’s the name!  You’ll be calling the world ahead of you blankin’-burg soon enough. 

Up to this point, many of you have gotten by on your appearance.  You are, as we say, cute.  That will rapidly fade in elementary school.  We will lose teeth and become awkward as you grow.  Being cute means nothing.  Every misanthrope and human monster was once your age.  Look at this darling child [I hold this up for the audience]:

Adolf_Hitler_Childhood_Photos-{1}

His name? Adolf Hitler.  Cute, isn’t he?

Many–if not most–of you are unprepared for school.  A great number of you are complete illiterates, unable to so much as correctly spell your full name.  Others are only functionally illiterate.  You cannot read even at the 1st grade level.  Your ability to understand or complete even a simple job application is nil.  Even rudimentary math is beyond your comprehension at this point.  As a result of these limitations, you are unable to function in modern society.  These handicaps, daunting as they may be, can and will be remedied in the coming years–at least to some extent.

Some of you now begin your long, slow trudge to failure–sad but true.  You will annoy your teachers.  You will gravitate to the worst of your lot and mimic their behavior.  Perhaps you will be the ring leader of a group of miscreants.  If so, make no mistake:  You can and will be written off at a young age.  The good news is that–for the only time in your life–time is on your side.  As unlikely as it may be, you can change your behavior for the better.

Many of you are angels or so your parents have led you to believe.  You are sweet and when you aren’t, you are simply misunderstood.  Your failures and shortcomings are not your own.  They are the product of misinformed individuals or society as a whole.  Your parents are failing you daily, but I do not expect you to understand.  Being egocentric as you are, you are comfortable with this arrangement.  This comfort sows the seeds of your ultimate downfall.  When you fall short of expectations at school, your parents will harangue your teachers, blaming them for your sloth and intellectual shortcomings.  Only when you are much older will you realize that your house stands upon sand.  Then, it will be too late.

Some of you are tethered to your parents like pets.  You never leave their sight.  They are determined to protect you from the evils of the world and the world itself.  They will often lunch with you at school.  Perhaps they will volunteer in your classroom.  Some may even seek gainful employment at your school.  They seek to smother you with their attention.  And they will succeed.

A few–and I hope very few–of you are little more than street urchins deposited at school by uncaring parents who neither deserve to have children nor any other human relationship.  There is good news for you.  It is possible–not likely, but possible–that you will encounter someone who can exert a positive influence upon you outside your home. School is the most likely place to find such a person.

You may be an only child.  By that, of course, I mean you are the only child in your immediate family.  YOU ARE NOT THE ONLY CHILD ON EARTH!  Just remember that.

Of course, you will encounter teachers.  In my experience, the good far outnumber the bad.  The good ones will care about you like no one outside your own family.  The bad ones will want to herd you on the next grade while they detest you almost as much as they do their dead-end jobs.  Most of your teachers do the best they can.  Your cooperation will help.

Your teachers may occasionally criticize or correct you.  That is their job.  That is how you learn.  This may be foreign to you.  Your parents may be the type who praise everything you do from feeding yourself to basic hygiene.  Your teachers shall prepare you for the real world where such tasks are not viewed as accomplishments at all.  In fact, society fairly demands you master them.

Your teachers also cannot praise your every move.  I have no doubt that all of you have drawn pictures for your parents.  Let’s say you draw what you called a “horsey.”  In reality, this horse resembles nothing so much as random scrawling with no form.  It is, in fact, completely unrecognizable as a horse or any other living creature.  When you present this picture to your parents they exclaim “Oh, what a pretty horsey! It’s beautiful!”  Such lies are meant to boost your self-esteem by lauding your crude art work.  If an adult produced such a drawing and insisted that it was horse, he or she would branded as mentally deranged.  Institutions and unemployment would be their future.

A decent parent would look at your drawing and ask “What exactly about that looks like a horse?” or “Why don’t we just call it a wildebeest or a fire hydrant?  Makes as much sense.”  I doubt that you have ever received such constructive criticism.  Those days are done.

No teacher worth his or her salt can engage in such foolishness.  If you declare that 2 + 2 equals 11, you cannot be praised.  You are not praiseworthy.

Despite what your parents think, there is almost no chance that you are a genius.  That you are able to distinguish letters of the alphabet means little.  It is axiomatic that most of you are average.  That’s not to say that there aren’t exceptions.  Some of you are far, far smarter than your peers.  That will not change, although you shall be witness to many years of people trying to bring your peers up to your level or you down to theirs.  But you are smarter than these people, too, and they will fail.

You are now headed to a world where failure is, in fact, an option.  The good news is that the educational system is designed to prevent failure.  In addition to your teachers, there are counselors, tutors, study plans and even medication at your disposal.  Perhaps you are now addicted to amphetamines in an effort to help you pay better attention in school.  That might help.  Of course, the downside to living as a speed freak is well-known but better discussed at your middle school graduation.

No doubt you reflect today that time flies.  It seems like only yesterday that you soiled yourself simply because you knew no better.  For a few of you, it literally may have been yesterday.  In any event, those days are behind you now–hopefully.  A new day dawns.

You now leave the garden and head straight into the jungle.  Knowing your penchant for distraction, I have kept my words brief.  Some of you have picked your noses throughout my talk while others have squirmed with annoyance.  Welcome to the rest of your life.

©thetrivialtroll.wordpress.com 2013

My Over 50 Not-To-Do List

I’m in my 51st year on the planet.  Although many people have exceeded my longevity, this impresses me.  Of course, lots of folks lived less time than I have and did much more–Mozart, for example.  All in all, though, living longer is a good thing.

I now read AARP publications.  AARP recently ran a tongue-in-cheek article about things NOT to do after age 50.  It was somewhat humorous.  Somewhat.  Like a lot of things, it got me thinking.  Now, that I’m 50 (and have been for several months now), what won’t I do?  Here are five such things:

PLAY BALL!  I’ve written before about my mediocrity as an athlete.  That never stopped me from trying to play sports.  No more.  No basketball.  No softball.  No flag football.  Nothing where I risk injury.  Why?   I don’t want any other injuries.  The older you get, the more injury-prone you are.  My sports are now limited to baseball and basketball with my youngest son and even then I don’t go all out.

I’ve never had a serious injury.  I’ve never worn a cast or had surgery or used crutches.  I did tear a muscle in my shoulder once, but they can’t do much about that.  I had a stress fracture in my foot, but it went away.

In my 30’s I scraped the outside of left calf sliding during a softball game.  It looked like a burn and hurt like hell. It scabbed up in a couple of days.  Then, the scab disappeared, and it looked like an orange peel, except oozy.  You know how your mother said that a cut with red lines running from it is bad?  It had those, two.  It was something called cellulitis.  The doctor said it was a “galloping infection.”  I had to elevate my leg and put a heating pad on the open wound.  I also had to draw a circle around it with a Sharpie.  If the red spread past the outline, that would be bad.  When I stood, the blood rushed to my leg and it felt like a thousand needles.  I  had to get a shot every day, too, for a week.  The shot gave me diarrhea.  For days, I was reduced to lying down with a heating pad on an open sore which burned like it was on fire while trying to control my bowels and drawing on my leg with a magic marker.  I’m just too old for this kind of thing.

Even if I wanted to play sports, I probably can’t.  The simplest of sports may be beyond me now. A few months ago, I passed baseball with my 17-year-old son who is a high school baseball player.  He can throw 80-85 mph without much effort.  I was terrified.  Enough of that, too.

Fortunately, my youngest son is almost 11 now.  If I had a younger kid, I’d hire someone to play with him.  No sense taking unnecessary risks.

ANGRY UP MY BLOOD:  The great baseball player Satchel Paige once cautioned against eating fried food, because it would angry up one’s blood.  I don’t necessarily agree with that, because I like fried food.  I do, however, agree with the caution about angrying up the blood.

I was an angry young man.  Angry about all kinds of stuff–my job, politics, religion, sports–pretty much everything.  I had a short fuse which was easily lit, too.  I was an unpleasant person.  I’m too old for all that, as well.

It seems that my peers become angrier with age while I mellow.  I am aging in reverse, like a far less handsome version of Brad Pitt as Benjamin Button.  It seems that everyone my age is mad about liberals, conservatives, the rich, the poor, taxes, drones, sports, religion and life in general.  Here’s the deal:  We all have opinions.  So do I.  I’m certain that mine aren’t all that important.  In fact, I may be flat wrong on many (most?) of them.  Same goes for you.  I’m sure that pisses you off.  Relax.

I’m confident that being mad shortens my life.  How?  Well, every minute I waste fuming about something, I could be doing something else.  So, there goes part of my life down the old crapper.  As a live and let live guy, I really don’t care if you’re mad, even at me.  Just don’t ask me to play along.

GET IN MY CUPS:  I was once quite fond of strong drink.  I may still be, but I haven’t partaken in several years.  Understand that I have no problem with those that do.  I just believe that such indulgences are a young man’s game.  Hangovers had bad for my brain.  Why else would my head hurt like that?  Vomiting is no good under any circumstances.  Also, not remembering conversations or where I’ve been or what I’ve done is problematic.  Soon enough, age itself will cause such problems.  No need to speed the plow.

Here’s the kind of thing I did when I drank.  A few years ago (not as many as you might think), my wife and I went to a party.  I drank quite a bit before the party and quite a bit at the party.  Oh, I had a grand time–or so I’ve heard.  When we came home, I retired to the basement whereupon I quickly dozed off (the more crass of you might call it “passing out.”)  A couple of hours into my respite, I had the urge to relieve myself.  Rising from the couch, I was unsteady on my feet.  No doubt this was from the deep REM sleep.  As I staggered toward the bathroom, somehow I fell forward, striking my head on a wooden post.   Oh, I also broke my glasses.

No problem.  Holding my forehead, I made it to the bathroom and did my business.  My right brow was really throbbing, so I thought I might take a look at it.  Leaning close the mirror–remember my glasses were broken–I moved my hand from my right eye to get a good look.

The funny thing about cuts to the head is that they bleed far in excess of the severity of the actual injury.  When I moved my hand, blood fairly gushed from a small slice in my right eye brow.  It ran into my eye and down my face.  It just kept coming.  There was only one thing to do–I puked and went into a full-blown swoon.  Then I sat in the floor convinced that I was bleeding to death and would be found covered in blood and vomit–not a glorious demise.

So, I did the only thing I could do.  Holding a towel to my head, I climbed the two flights of stairs to the master bedroom and consulted my dear wife.  Let’s just say that the evening suddenly took an even uglier turn.

I’m too old for this kind of foolishness now.  Let the young men bleed profusely and copiously vomit.  I’ll sip my Starbucks, work the crossword puzzle and retire for the evening at 9:30 or so.

EAT WELL:  This takes some explaining.  I don’t eat all that poorly.  I don’t have a weight problem.  I’m a lean, mean 160 pounds.  Perfect middle-weight size.  Think of me as a whiter, less-imposing, soft version of Marvelous Marvin Hagler (if you don’t know Hagler, you’re not my age).  At one time I weighed 176 pounds, which was a little too much.  I quickly shed that weight.  That’s just a genetic thing.  Don’t get all pissed off (see section above).

People want me to eat well, and I guess I should.  My family has a bit of a history of heart disease.  Regardless, there are things I like to eat.  They include, but are not limited to:

  • High fructose corn syrup
  • Sugar
  • Chocolate
  • Ice Cream
  • Eggs
  • Bacon
  • Pork in general
  • Deep fried anything
  • Gluten
  • Peanut butter
  • Hot dogs
  • Red meat
  • White meat
  • Meat

I also don’t mind my food being laced with preservatives.  Why not?  Hey, I like it preserved until I want to eat it.  Call me crazy.

I’m not diabetic.  I don’t have celiac disease. Or diverticulitis.  Or any food allergies.  If you do, please watch what you eat.  The key here is to watch what you eat, not what I eat.

If YOU don’t want to eat this stuff, I’m okay with it.  I won’t force it on you.  I don’t have people to my house for dinner anyway.  Eat what you want.  You can eat free range horse for all I care.  Just don’t tell me what to eat.  I enjoy food and fully intend to continue to do so.

FIGHT CLUB:  Chief Joseph said:  “From where the sun now stands, I will fight no more forever.”  That’s a good philosophy, and I agree wholeheartedly with him.  Fighting isn’t good, especially if you run the risk of getting the crap beat out of you.

Like heavy drinking, fighting is a young man’s business.  When you’re young, fighting can be a test of your manhood.  It can also be provoked by heavy drinking.  Either way, it’s usually a one-on-one situation and little harm is done.

Unlike in the movies, real fights rarely result in a lot of punching.  A good punch is almost always a “sucker” punch which the recipient doesn’t see coming.  Otherwise, punching is mostly a bunch of embarrassingly wild swinging.

It hurts to be squarely punched in the face.  It also hurts to squarely punch someone in the face.  Your hand explodes in pain.  I don’t like pain.  That said, real fights end up with a bunch of rolling around on the ground.

Another thing about real fights.  No one gets punched in the face repeatedly and keeps fighting.  Nor do you punch anyone in the face repeatedly.  The human head is hard.  It’s like a bowling ball with a few soft places on it.  Go punch a wall five or ten times and let me know what you think.

At a certain age–maybe 30–I realized that people who are willing to fight might be dangerous, especially if they, too, were in their 30’s.  These folks also tend to carry weapons, because they’re looking for trouble.  I don’t want even a remotely deadly weapon used on me.  I don’t want to throw a punch and miss, only to end up with a Chinese throwing star stuck in my forehead.

One possible exception is that I might fight a younger man.  Why would I do that? Wouldn’t youth put me at a terrible disadvantage?  Possibly.  However, don’t discount the power of being Old Man Strong.  We all reach an age where our years create a certain toughness without us even knowing it.  Some suggest that perhaps we lose the will to live and become fearless.  I prefer to think of it as God’s way of rewarding us for surviving.

When I was in high school, a friend of mine foolishly punched his dad.  His dad didn’t flinch.  Old Man Strong. Fight over.

So, if you’re a young fellow, be careful.  If you get mouthy with an old guy and he just chuckles or, worse yet, takes a step toward you, run.  It may be all that saves your dignity.

CONCLUSION

This is hardly a comprehensive list of things I won’t be doing.  Such things as starting a meth lab, amateur pornography and polygamy are also taboo.  These, though, are things I wouldn’t have ever done, as far as you know.

I’m not perfect.  Maybe one day I’ll be shooting basketball with my kid, and you’ll wander into my yard spewing about politics and telling me to reduce the MSG in my diet.  Like Clint Eastwood in Unforgiven, I’ll take a swig of whiskey and then start a fight with you.  Let’s try to avoid all that.

©thetrivialtroll.wordpress.com 2013