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Father to Son, Part II



Ah, you're growing up so quickly. Why, just this morning you pulled yourself onto your sister's bed for the first time, much to the amazement of the dog, whose interest in you was rewarded by a barrage of stuffed animals to the face and head. And you wonder why she snaps at you.

It's been a few months since our last virtual man-to-man (or man-to-toddler) chat. We're a little older, a little wiser — and a little closer to the years when you'll want nothing to do with me. Thus, it's time for another talk. Like I said last time, this is important, so pay attention.

1. Learn how to make a decent paper airplane. Don't scoff, this is an essential life skill. A good paper airplane will allow you to entertain yourself, impress your friends, annoy your teachers, and even amaze other kids once you're an adult like your old man. It requires only a single sheet of paper, so you can whip one out almost anywhere — the airport, a restaurant, Easter Sunday Mass — and often for free. What's more, you can use almost anything you find lying around, like a place mat or a parking ticket.

There's more to it than simply folding a piece of paper into a triangle and tossing it onto the floor. First, fold a lengthwise sheet of paper in half, then lay it flat again. Fold the top two corners to meet the seam you made, then do so again. Next, re-fold the paper in half along the lengthwise seam. Finally, fold each side in half so that the top meets the bottom edge to make wings. Throw and enjoy. Note that putting a paper clip on the nose doesn't really help, despite what people will tell you.

Moving on.

2. Every public swimming pool you'll ever be in will contain at least one Band-Aid. You'll probably find it upon opening your eyes underwater, where it will be floating inches from your nose. When this happens, do not touch it. Your initial instinct may be one of curiosity, but I encourage you just to swim away. Do not dwell too long on what was released into the pool when that Band-Aid was expelled from its host.

Now for some bad news. You may not like this, but I feel I've got to let you know.

3. You're probably going to go bald.

Take a look at your dad, your grandfather, and your great-grandfather. We're like three cue balls (don't be fooled by great-granddad — that's a comb-over). When it happens — and it will — don't get upset (after all, lots of cool guys are bald: Michael Jordan and Patrick Stewart). Instead, go to the drugstore, buy one of those hair clippers, and shave your noggin down to the skin. You can throw all the attachments away. I'm talking bare blades. People will respect your honesty, you'll have one less thing to worry about when you're getting ready in the morning, and women* will ask if they can touch your fuzzy cranium (hint: Say “yes"). Just remember to wear a hat in the summer because a sunburn on your dome is no fun. Trust me.

Now print this out and store it with my last bit of advice. You can thank me in your Harvard graduation speech.

*Or men, if that turns out to be your thing.


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