Dear Sweet Girl,
Not all of the advice I give you is going to be lovey-dovey sage wisdom. Sometimes I will tell you things you don’t want to hear. Actually, I do that all the time. You’ve mastered the brow-furrow when I do this, and it makes me really want to tuck that whole “no spanking or slapping upside the head” rule into my pocket for a sec. Today, love, I will give you a few one offs to ensure that you’re the least annoying person you can be.
1. If you chew gum, no one over 6″ from your mouth should hear it. It’s gross and makes you sound like an idiot.
2. If you wear perfume, no one over 6″ from your body should smell it. Don’t make people smell you if they haven’t signed up for the privilege.
3. Don’t tailgate ever. This means on the highway or in line. Give people their space. It’s so obnoxious otherwise. Don’t frontgate either. Close talkers are creepy and it’s more annoying when there’s alcohol involved. Throw out a “this is my dance space, this is your dance space” reference if needed.
4. No one wants to be the victim of your poor choices. Think carefully about your decisions and how they affect others. You are not the only person in the world. I can’t tell you how many nights I’ve spent with the same friends crying about the same thing that they keep doing over and over and over. There’s only so much a friend can take.
5. For the love of god, please learn how to figure things out. You will get angry at Dad and me often because we will not help you with things – I see it already – but trust me when I say we are there with a net if you fall. You have to be able to do things for yourself: cook, clean, change a tire, figure out how to take a train from Bucharest to Munich, or fill out an application. All are important, and those basic skills will be far more important in your life than most anything you’ll learn in school. Those are called “life skills”. Learn. Them.
6. If you don’t learn to laugh at yourself, you will go crazy. If you take yourself too seriously, life will eat you up.
7. Don’t brag. It’s unfriendly and unkind.
8. Don’t lie. It’s not worth it. Well, sometimes it’s worth it, and you just have to, but never big lies and never to your friends or lovers. Or your parents (mostly).
9. Travel as much as you can. We’ll take you where we can afford to take you while you’re a kid, but when you hit adulthood you need to RUN! Far away. Eat street food in Cambodia, and borsht in Russia. Sleep in a tent on a mountain in Peru, or on a beach in Indonesia. Just go. It will make you whole. And less of an asshole*.
10. Hold off on handing your heart over completely until you learn to love yourself unconditionally. You need to teach someone how to love you properly, and only by example.
I love you so much. Please don’t become an asshole.
*I mean that in the “you’ll be more open-minded” sense. You may turn out to be one in the “I’ve traveled a lot and am more worldly than you” sense, though. Careful.