(Editor’s note: Hey gang, sorry for a repeat, but I thought this entry should see the light of your monitor one last time. Also, there seems to be a growing readership who can now enjoy this essay that is as helpful today as it was…whenever it was written. So, until next week…)
The benefit of being an adult is when you now see back to school commercials, you no longer have a sinking feeling that your summer is over. You no longer think, oh God why? Why must you punish me? Now as an adult you can watch the obnoxious Old Navy commercials and laugh… and then go to your job that you hate the next morning.
Being old and wise in my years I’ve taken the time to impart some wisdom to the future ditch-diggers of America…
Tip #1: You’re never too young to hitchhike
For all my kindergarten-age readers: get ready to be humiliated. You won’t even realize it until you get older. You don’t understand that it is demeaning to have to wear a sign that states your name and the school bus number neatly scribed on an index card hanging from your neck by a piece of yarn. That piece of paper essentially says that adults have absolutely no faith in you whatsoever. As soon as you are out of your doting mothers sights, ditch the sign. You’ll do just fine without it. You’re going to school now, that’s big-boy stuff. It’s time to buck-up and act like one. Now, if by some foreign chance you find yourself lost while trying to get to the place that you’ve never been to before, simply find the first adult with a thin, wispy mustache, tell ‘em “Hell yea, I love candy!” hop in his primer-gray cargo van and let ‘em drive you to school. There are Good Samaritans everywhere, you just have to look for them… but more than likely they’ll find you.
Tip #2: Figure out a plan to suck your thumb
If you miraculously make it to school after that HORRIBLE advice, and you’re the kind of kid that still sucks his thumb, you’re in for a world of heartache, friend. Even though all of your other classmates still suck their thumbs they will never admit it. And even though they still enjoy a good thumb-suckle as well at the end of a hard day, it won’t prevent them from pointing out to everyone that you still do. Here’s a tip—non-existent kindergarten age readers—wait until nap time, then pick the a corner spot on the carpet next to the bookshelves and go to town on your stubby digit to your hearts content with your body position facing the wall. No one will ever know. I survived this way well into my teens.
Tip #3: Cleanliness is next to Godliness
If someone says you smell funny, number one: I’ve got news for you, your parents aren’t doing as good of job as you thought. And two: take a bath that night and every night after that for the rest of your school career. You don’t want to be labeled the smelly kid. The stench of that name will haunt you for the rest of your life. Ask any adult, they can still name the smelly kid in their class.
Here’s another tip. Don’t accidentally call the teacher Mom. Your classmates will taunt you relentlessly. And yes, I know, the milk tastes funny, but you’ll eventually get used to it. Don’t resort to eating pastes in lieu of drinking milk—you’ll grow up to be a meth cooker.
Tip #4: Don’t write love letters
This one is for all my male elementary school readers. If you have a crush on a girl, don’t send her a note confessing your affection. She will show it to her friends and they will laugh at you for having feelings for another human being. Always tell the girl in person. That way if she laughs about it to her friends you can always deny it since you didn’t leave a paper trail. If you do make the poor decision of spilling your heart out onto a piece of spiral notebook paper, it is imperative that you do not use the word love. Your eight years old for Christ sakes! Use the word like. It has practically same power as the word love at your age, but has a diminished value when read by someone else. Now you can save face when she’s reading the note out loud to her giggling friends at lunch. If the humiliation is too much to bear, hide a cyanide capsule in your fruit cup. You won’t regret it, and you’ll be saving years of heartache. Because let’s face it, if you fail at love right out of the gate your destined to fail in every romantic endeavor after that.
It’s simple logic.
Tip #5: If you’ve got it, flaunt it.
Here’s a tip for all my junior high male readers. If you have any chest hair, I mean any at all, I don’t care if it’s three sprouts just under your collar bone; when your laying out the clothes you’re going to wear for your first day of school (I know what you’re thinking, but everyone does it, even guys) wear the new polo shirt and leave the two top buttons open. Flaunt what you got. You earned it, buddy. It’s probably from all the pork chops you ate this summer. That sip of beer you snuck from your dad probably had something to do with it as well.
Take a good look in the mirror. You think that chest hair makes you look like Burt Reynolds in Deliverance because it does! Girls your age will be captivated by a hairy chest until they go to college—then they’ll think chest hair is gross.
I know, confusing right?
Tip #6: Girls will hit puberty before boys—approach with caution
For all you tween girls; if you um… developed this summer you will find boys your age acting strange around you. They won’t approach you and will hardly give you the time of day, but they will belittle and demean other guys that are in your vicinity (even their best friend) to make them appear superior in your presence.
And you know that male friend you had since First Grade? He’ll suddenly want to play-wrestle with you even though you two stopped wrestling years ago. It will be much the same as it was back then, except now his hands will be cold and clammy and after a couple minutes he’s going to stop abruptly, lie on his stomach, and insist on watching the rest of Glee.
Tip #7: Dress for success
Here’s a tip for seniors. I know, right? Why would you take any advice from an old fuddy-duddy like me; the type of individual that is so lame that he uses terms like “fuddy-duddy”. Well, listen up anyways. Dress for success. I’m going back to clothing again. But, everyone will admit that clothing is important when you’re in school. Personality and a sense of humor finish in a distant second. So don’t even bother working on improving those dead-ends.
Now, think of the school year as a reincarnation of sorts. Each spring you die, and each autumn you have a choice as to what you want to come back as. You can reinvent your entire wardrobe completely at the beginning of the school year and you will only face a good couple days where people give you strange looks. They eventually get past it. So sit back, assess where you are and where you want to be. Ask yourself, “Will this Kurt Cobain t-shirt properly inform my peers that I am now cool?”
The answer is of course it will. Why wouldn’t it? Just make sure that you actually listen to Nirvana before you wear it. And if someone asks you what your favorite Nirvana song is, don’t say Jeremy.
Tip #8: If you drive a cool car, everyone else will hate you
If you drive a cool car everyone else will be so filled with jealousy that they will despise you. You will spot them giving you dagger-like stares behind the steering wheels of station wagons and caravans. Yes, their vehicles are roomier, thus better accommodating for the act of coitus, but the irony is that the vehicle itself will prevent that from happening.
But chin up young buck and pay your dues. Driving a crappy car in high school not only teaches you humility, but it builds character as well. It gives you an advantage as an adult by having that life experience as a teenager. I mean, just look at all the kids that drove cool cars in high school, where are they now? Alright, they’re doing fine, and are just as (if not more) successful than you are.
Alright, there is no solace in driving a humiliating car in high school. But hey, at least you can laugh at the kids that still have to ride the bus. Feel free to mock them by calling them Rosa Parks as you drive past in your rusted minivan.