Some Advice for the Young & Ambitious

Every spring, The New York Times publishes highlights from the various commencement addresses given around the country. They print a few paragraphs from the famous and notables who impart their wisdom to the graduating masses. It’s one of my favorite annual features.

That nitwit Clarence Thomas gave the commencement address at High Point University and in it, he said the following:

Let me first confess that I am no good at telling people what to think or how to live their lives.

Pardon me, but isn’t that EXACTLY what the Supreme Court purports to do? He is a small, silly man who wound up with a very important job. J.K. Rowling gave the commencement address at Harvard and her comments were the best by far. Take a moment and read this. It’s worth your time.

By any conventional measure, a mere seven years after my graduation day, I had failed on an epic scale. An exceptionally short-lived marriage had imploded, and I was jobless, a lone parent and as poor as it is possible to be in modern Britain without being homeless. The fears my parents had had for me, and that I had had for myself, had both come to pass, and by every usual standard, I was the biggest failure I knew.

Why do I talk about the benefits of failure? Simply because failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me. Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one arena I believed I truly belonged.

I was set free, because my greatest fear had already been realized, and I was still alive, and I still had a daughter whom I adored, and I had an old typewriter and a big idea. And so rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.

It’s enough to give you hope, isn’t it?

Is That How I Sound To You? Part Deux

Someone in the UK posted a link to my blog as recommended reading, which is VERY flattering, but they said that I “moan just a wee bit” meaning, I suppose, that I moan quite a lot. Hummm, thought I. So I went back and reread some of my posts and do you know what? He’s absolutely 100% correct! I am a colossal moaner and complainer. How about that! Cone to think of it, I’ve always been a bit of a misanthrope. I might have a genetic predisposition that leans towards melancholy. In the past, some girls have mistaken my moaning for charm. I believe Mrs. Wife might have done that at first, but I don’t think she finds it charming any longer. Well, I’m not going to stop my bitchin’, that’s for sure. As though I could!

Multiple Choice

Let’s say it’s a Sunday in June. In fact, let’s say it’s the first Sunday of the summer. Pretty nice out. You have some options. Which of these to do you choose:

a. You live near the Jersey shore and have some very nice beaches at your disposal. You hop on the Garden State Parkway, pick an exit and before you know it, you’re wiggling your toes in the sand while The Daughters hunt for sea shells.

b. You drive into New York City to attend the Make Music New York festival. You select one of the hundreds of outdoor performances that are part of a day that spotlights the city’s rich mixture of musical taste.

c. You have in-laws who have a spectacular built-in pool in their back yard. It’s never crowded. It’s quiet. There’s a very comfortable floating mattress. You even have a mother-in-law who will occasionally hand you a fudge pop as you float by.

d. You get a steam cleaner and you spend the day cleaning every carpet in the house. Your hands become raw from repeatedly spilling carpet cleaning solvent all over them and your back hurts from lugging a steam cleaner up and down two staircases.

Answer: It’s d, of course! What are you, a complete idiot? Don’t you want clean carpets?!


Here are all the ingredients necessary for a spontaneous, informal, very productive therapy session:

1 good friend who is willing to listen to your blubbering and has a few troubles of her own to spill.
1 dram of Balblair scotch, served in a snifter with a small porcelain picture of water on the side.
1 bottle of Hoegaarden beer.
1 plate of fresh fruit and cheese.

Serve at St. Andrews, the only Scottish joint in town, by a young Scot wearing a kilt and brandishing a Highlands accent. Mix it up. Drink it down. Pour it out. Lay it on thick. The next thing you know, not only do your troubles seem conquerable, but some of them suddenly appear to look downright silly.

I Have Some Bad News: I Think My Daughter Might Be Straight

6-Year Old Daughter had a play date with her boyfriend from kindergarten the other day. She carries a very Disney-fied notion of what romance is all about. After he went home, she told Mrs. Wife, “Guess what, mom! My plan worked! He’s in love with me!”

As her father, I find this to be disturbing and unwelcomed news. I don’t want her to have anything whatsoever to do with men because, frankly, men are creeps. I speak from experience. We are all after the same thing, and I can assure you that once we get it, we move on to the next same thing. I don’t want some dirty little punk pulling into my driveway in a beat up Trans Am that’s leaking oil, beep the horn and expect her to run out to the car because he’s too cool to come into the house and face me. And God forbid she falls for a musician! Those guys tend to have an endless supply of women at their disposal and a lot of their women end up disposed of.

My plan is to try and steer both my daughters into a gay lifestyle. Women are respectful to one another and have a quiet dignity. Having a woman knock on my front door looking for my daughter(s) is a hell of a lot easier for me to take than the nightmare I described above. So far, I have failed miserably but I’m thinking of taking her to the Women’s Rights Anniversary celebration or a Melissa Etheridge concert this summer. That could provide a push in the right direction.

* * *

I was standing in line at Citibank to deposit some checks and I heard I Confess by the English Beat coming out of the speakers overhead. That’s one of my all-time favorite songs by one of my all-time favorite bands! What does that mean? Is Citibank trying to raise their hip quotient or am I becoming so old and decrepit that I’m starting to enjoy muzak? I just got a chill as I typed that last sentence.