Note to readers: I recently got married (yes, she is a very lucky woman) and consequently I find myself spending a lot less time hanging out in discotheques and a lot more time thinking about the future. Particularly, with the usual conservative "culture of life" suspects stressing the need for my wife to get pregnant every time we have sex as the most dire issue facing us today, my thoughts turn to parenthood, and what my as-yet-unconceived children might be like, and what bits of wisdom I'd want to share as they grow up and strike out into the world and try to figure out what the hell is going on.
It's me -- dad! Sit up straight! Ha, I bet I said that to you a lot while you were growing up, huh? Maybe. Who knows? At the time I wrote this letter to you, you hadn't been born yet. Or even conceived. You were just a couple of gametes in your mother and me. Even so, I knew you'd turn out swell. But seriously, you really need to sit up straight. And do exercises to strengthen your buttocks. Back problems run in the family.
How's your love life? That's great! Or, I'm sorry. Whichever is applicable. How's your job? Are you still a herpetologist? Terrific. You know what they say: there's a bright future in reptiles.
First of all, I'd like to tell you just how proud of you I am, probably. To be honest, I didn't think I'd ever be a father. But then your mom and I got into our thirties, and we had a couple of cats, and that was going well, so we thought, "Hey, what else are we going to do?" And we had you! Parents are always going on and on about how their kids are the greatest joy in their lives and you think, "Yeah, you talk about them enough, Jesus," but they're right! It's hard for me to remember now what I did with myself before you came into the world. Sat around writing letters to imaginary people, mostly.
But enough with the small talk. Why did I write you this letter? Well my child, it is incumbent upon me as a parent to share with you the benefit of my experience, to pass on to you lessons learned from my successes as well as my failures (for example: don't go into comedy; go into herpetology). But we never know when and if we'll have the opportunity to do this, life being as fragile and fickle as it is. I mean, I could die before I get your mother pregnant, and then where would that leave us? Thus, I decided I'd write you this letter, and put it in a time capsule for you to open on your 25th birthday. I also included some brass knuckles and a Skrillex CD. Who's a cool dad?
What advice can I give you for this, today's world of tomorrow? It's tough to say, because as I write this I'm merely trying to envision what things will be like by the time you're 25. So heed my words, but cut me some slack, too.
1. Help Out Old Timers: Since the advent of time travel, the world has become crowded with people from the past. Disoriented and stricken with time flu, they wander around frightened and confused. Offer them assistance -- but approach them with caution! They invariably will assume that you are a demon. Give them some tea and a place to lie down. Do whatever you can to soothe them. That will be you one day, after you are captured by people from the future.
2. Exercise Every Day: No matter how hectic your life might get, it is very important to get at least 30 minutes of fresh air and activity daily. But hey, it doesn't have to be a chore! One fun way to do this is to go for a walk on the beach. Feel the sand between your toes. Smell the salt air. Soon the shark people will be after you, and you'll find that scrambling for your life is a great cardio workout. Plus, there's not that much to be frightened of; shark people aren't actually part shark. They just think they are.
3. Avoid the Internet: Far from being the series of tubes that it was in my day, the internet is now a place where many people actually live; they have uploaded their brains to the cloud and now interact with the real world as holographic entities. They seem very happy and this might look like an attractive option to you. Don't take it! Because the internet, with its cheerful orange denizens slap-fighting and having terrible sex with each other, is actually an elaborate trap set to catch you in the commission of acts that threaten national security, such as downloading an unauthorized copy of Howard the Duck.
4. Be Nice to Goths: In my day, goths were at the bottom of the pecking order -- even trombonists made fun of goths. But after scientists cracked the code of sorcery, goths became unimaginably powerful overnight. I know that their music isn't very good and they seem kind of affected, but be polite. They can turn your brain to butterscotch pudding in the blink of a heavily mascara'd eye.
5. Pledge Fealty to a Top Warlord: These days, joining a clan is a great way to network and to avoid getting shot in your sleep. Consider not only what you can offer to the chieftain's goon stable, but what they can offer you as well. Can they boast a doctor or some other type of healer amongst their captives? Are they rich in pelts or, even more unimaginably, potable water? Flexible hours? Choose wisely, because how you fair later in life can have a lot to do with whose sigil you have tattooed on your face.
6. Destroy All Flowers: At one point, because of a thing called colony collapse disorder, we were afraid that all the bees in the world were going to die. In response, engineers created tiny robotic bees to pollinate our plants and fly inside our soda cans. However, these tiny machines turned out to be a hundred times stronger than ordinary bees and, due to a coding error, instead of making honey they spread hepatitis. Beware of bees. Rip up any flowers you see and drink only salty or bitter drinks. This won't kill the robot bees -- they were designed to function for 10,000 years -- but at least it will keep them away (until a software virus compels them seek out human blood, which will almost certainly happen).
7. Get Yourself a Good Shovel: Find a nice soft bit of land and dig a deep hole. Crawl into the hole. Live there. Now you are safe.
I'm sorry the world is so weird. Your mother and I tried to make things better, with our flash mobs and our yoga parties and retweets, but nothing seemed to work. At least we had a kid. That was pretty fun! Now you're all grown up, so go get 'em. And, uh... good luck.
Follow Ross Hyzer on Twitter: www.twitter.com/rosshyzer