This book is not going to tell you to eat more kale. I believe we have all gotten the message on kale. This book is not going to tell you to call your parents more often, though you probably should call your parents more often—or, alternately, you should take away your parents’ phones, and lock hide them in their bedroom, which also does the trick. This book is not going to tell you to buy a hiking stick or re-immerse yourself in the great literary classics because… let’s be real. You decided long ago to get through life without ever finishing The Scarlet Letter.
ON BEING COOL
No activity on the planet – besides watching golf on TV – wastes as much time and creates more turbulent feelings of personal insecurity as trying to be cool. Cool is overrated. Freeing yourself from the relentless pursuit of cool can be the single biggest thing you can do to create personal happiness in your life, besides deleting Twitter from your phone. This does not mean by the end of this chapter I will be advising you wear a fanny pack and fill it with dog biscuits and AAA batteries. I just want to limit your cool panic.
Back in olden days, parenting was less obsessive and manic. Your mother was not Googling Swedish baby shoes at 2 AM. Being a new mom or dad was viewed as a normal human passage, not extraordinary life theater. Parents back then smoked, let their kids sleep on their stomachs, ride in the front of the car. My brother and always tell ourselves our parents had it easy. All Mom and Dad had to do was dump us out into the yard! We took care of ourselves! This is partly true but mostly our own inane foggy recollection. Of course it was hard. Of course it was anxious. Years have the way of sanding off the rough edges and softening the hard times. My mom talks about her children having chicken pox like it was some hilarious cocktail party she went to.
I’m distrustful of anyone who doesn’t appreciate the particular genius of super-cheesy pop. Like “Safety Dance” by Men Without Hats. That kind of song always has a place in life. You can name two dozen songs by U2, but you’ve never seen a car of teenage girls driving down the boulevard cranking U2. Ever.
ON KIDS AND SPORTS
The essential thing for all of us to remember about sports is this: they’re games. As soon as we are able to stand on their our own and play sports, a cheery phrase is repeated ad infinitum by adults: “It’s only a game.” It sounds so good. Then we’re dropped off at the field and abandoned to a stern-jawed coach who calls us by our last names and reminds us subtly (or not subtly) that it is, in fact, sliiiiiightly more than a game. Many parents only compound the confusion, because they’ve put their lives on hold and spent money and driven kids around and they’d really prefer to not lose, too, so they’re hollering at players and coaches and referees and behaving as if they’re on the verge of a brawl at a motorcycle bar. Here’s the harsh truth: very few among us will play a sport when it means something—like really means something, like livelihoods rely on it. Pretty much everything else is a game. And that is absolutely the best thing about sports.