My wife and I have an 18-month old son named Ivan. I love being his dad. Turns out, though, that my job isn’t all just fun and games. According to the authorities (that would be my wife), I have a job to do (besides just carrying the stroller down the stairs). That job is to raise Ivan to be a man.
It is a daunting task, but I’ve given it a lot of thought, and I’ve come up with some advice for Ivan to help him on his journey. I already put together an earlier list, which you can find here: 50 LESSONS. So, now here’s another list of 50 nuggets of wisdom for Ivan and he goes from young buck to man:
1. Always wipe down the rim of the toilet after doing #1, especially if you live with a woman or if you’re visiting someone else’s home.
2. Shave with the grain, except when “manscaping” in which case you never, ever, ever use a razor near anything sensitive. That calls for electric clippers.
3. When driving, your hands should be at 10 o’clock and 2 o’clock on the steering wheel, except when you’re driving my car, in which case your hands should not be on the steering wheel nor should you, in fact, even be attempting to use my car.
4. Money isn’t the key to happiness, but it sure does help. If you want to be a poet be an investment banker first.
5. The only part of jail that’s cool is staying out of it.
6. Dress like you’re meeting your mother’s friends. You represent your mom. You need to demonstrate that she raised you right.
7. If anyone ever tells you “everyone’s doing it,” they are lying to you no matter what “it” is. There are 10 billion people on this planet, and I guarantee you at any given moment of any given day, there are hundreds of millions of Chinese who are most assuredly not doing “it.”
8. You should learn to be fluent in Spanish and Chinese. Or else you may wind up spending your adult years saying “I should’ve learned Spanish and Chinese when my dad said I should.”
9. You should do what you love.
10. If there’s a choice to do what you love or something that will enable other people to do what THEY love, pick the second choice. You may not get rich doing what you love, but you will absolutely get rich doing the thing that enables other people to do what they love. Help people lose weight, get rich and get laid, and you will be a billionaire.
11. Eventually, many years from now, when you go gray, do not dye your hair with that “shoe-polish” look. Men with old faces and dark hair look crazy, and they’re not fooling anyone.
12. I don’t care if you were born in the 21st Century. The 1980s are not “old-school.”
13. Never lie. But if you must lie, only do it to protect someone else’s feelings
14. Keep other people’s secrets when they confide in you.
15. If you want people to keep a secret, don’t tell it to them in the first place.
16. If your friends do something stupid, you should tell them.
17. If your friends do something illegal, get new friends.
18. Remember that every woman is someone’s daughter, sister, and/or mother. That doesn’t mean you have to like her, love her, stay with her or marry her. But you should be respectful. And, if it turns out she’s nuts, don’t lose respect for her but do run away very quickly (and don’t tell her where you’re going).
19. Sex is like a cup of coffee. It starts out hot and gets you going. Eventually, though, it goes cold and it really doesn’t stimulate you that much. Point is, if you build a relationship only on sex, eventually there’s not going to be much there.
20. Be physically active. That doesn’t mean you have to be in the gym for hours every day, but walk, climb, run, jump. If nothing else, there will be one day when you have to scram — and quick — and being in shape will come in handy.
21. TV isn’t evil, but if you’re watching more than 2 hours per day, you should ask yourself what else you could be doing with that time.
22. Ultimately, the man who listens best is the one that people will respect the most.
23. Learn how to play a musical instrument (farting with your hand under your armpit is not an instrument). It’s fun, and women dig it. Also, if you take after your mother and me, your chances of having a good singing voice are pretty much nil.
24. Know your history. You are African-American and Jewish. This is a blend of two very interesting and complex cultures. You should never stop learning about where you came from and how you got here. It will help you appreciate who you are and where you go to even more.
25. Learn how to live on $10 a day or less. Hopefully you will never have to do that for a protracted length of time, but knowing you can survive tough times is important.
26. Never forget that Tomato juice is a great hangover cure. Now, you should never get a hangover, because if you’re been paying attention to me you will not drink and, even if you do, you will not do so to excess. But, I’m not stupid. I know that you’re going to do what you’re going to do, so remember . . . tomato juice.
27. Learn how to cook eggs, make pasta, use a chef’s knife to chop vegetables, and how to select fruits and vegetables that are in season. This way, you will always be able to eat reasonably well, and chicks will dig you big time.
28. The issue isn’t whether the Yankees are better than the Mets. The issue is that your family has its roots in Brooklyn, and, thus, out of allegiance to the Dodgers, you must root for the Mets.
29. The better you do in life, the more responsibility you have to help others. On the other hand, remember, no one owes you anything (a fact which they will remind you of constantly in a very irritating way at terribly inconvenient times).
30. People generally are good, but they will do some mind-bogglingly selfish, annoying and hurtful things. Remember this when fighting with your friends, girlfriends, wife/wives. In other words, don’t call the person stupid or an asshole, but feel free to say that what they did was stupid and asshol-ish.
31. Read, read, read and read some more. You should read a newspaper every day (or whatever the heck passes for the equivalent of a newspaper online these days), and you should read no less than 12 books a year. That’s one a month. That’s not that much even if you have dyslexia.
32. You don’t have dyslexia, so keep reading.
33. Other people’s success doesn’t interfere with yours. No need to be petty, envious or jealous. But, if someone throws an elbow trying to nudge you out of the way to win the race, smoke that fool and teach him a lesson. I don’t mean hit him, but do dig down deep and defeat him by even more than you would have anyway.
34. Confront bullies. Don’t lose your cool. Just be unswerving in your opposition. They will back down. But if he throws a bunch, lay him out with a nose-exploding right hand.
35. Old people have a lot of experience, so it’s worth listening to what they say. On the other hand, just being old doesn’t make you Confucius, so you should still judge for yourself.
36. Flexibility of body and mind are key. The way to ensure this flexibility is to push your mind and your muscles in directions you didn’t think they could go.
37. Laughter is important. Laughing at yourself is even better. Laughing at others, not so much.
38. Create something (besides a doody).
39. Write down your goals and then check in every 6 months to see where you are in terms of reaching your goals. And, remember, world domination is not really a goal so much as a fantasy.
40. Be kind to animals . . . although that doesn’t require you to go out of your way to love reptiles. They’re so reptilian.
41. Carry Purell. People don’t wash their hands nearly enough.
42. Floss everyday. Chewing your cabbage (or anything else) twice is gross (and unhealthy).
43. Make your bucket list just things you’re gonna do now. Why wait til the end, when your eyesight is so bad you can’t see what you came to see.
44. Once in awhile go see some live entertainment. It doesn’t always have to be your old man performing comedy (though it would be nice if you’d support my efforts once in awhile).
45. They say that 90% of life is just showing up. I don’t know if it’s exactly 90%, but it’s a lot. Showing up matters. Showing up to support others matters even more. On the other hand, know that if you’re in a pissy mood, you can stay home. That is allowed.
46. Clean underwear and socks. That’s the foundation.
47. Whether you eat meat or not is your choice. But, remember, there’s really no reason to eat a quadruple-bacon bonanza-burger unless you want to be on the quadruple bypass team.
48. Go to a museum now and again. Especially if you don’t think it’s “your thing.”
49. Check out opera and ballet. You may not like it, but just remember how hard those people had to work to be that good at those things, and I think you’ll find that it’s better than you thought.
50. Personally, I’ve always lived by the credo that anything worth doing is worth doing to excess. The trick is knowing what’s worth doing.