Today, if I could impart just the tiniest piece of fatherly advice, it would be this: Don’t grow up to be an asshole. Yes, being an asshole can be fun and somewhat liberating, but it leads down a dangerous path to a very scary reality. That reality is that everyone thinks you’re an asshole.
There are many different kinds of assholes. There are inconsiderate assholes and aloof assholes. There are violent assholes and cruel assholes. I’m fairly certain you won't become one of those, but there is one breed of asshole that I am afraid you may be genetically inclined towards becoming: the sarcastic, condescending, self-righteous asshole. I'm sorry to say that those genetics don’t come from your Mom.
Being an asshole will be tempting. I can only imagine it is going to get worse as you come into your teenage years. See, you are at a considerable disadvantage. Thanks to the universe’s somewhat cruel parental selection process, you are fated to grow up in a home where sarcasm, cynicism and satire will be hardwired into your brain as your main tools of defense for dealing with the stupid, stupid people of the world.
Often times you will want to tell these people how incredibly stupid they actually are. You may even think that you are actually helping these people by showing them the error of their ways. These are the moments when I am going suggest that you close your eyes, think of this letter, and just let it go. Telling someone how ridiculously dumb they are will not make them any less dumb. Yes, it may feel good at the moment, and provide you with a small kernel of satisfaction. You must ignore that. You must also ignore that if your kernel of satisfaction is combined with hundreds of other satisfaction kernels and heated over a fire of smugness, they will expand and explode making delicious, crunchy, self righteous popcorn. I know It tastes good, but every once in awhile a piece of a kernel will get stuck on the very far back of your tongue and no matter how hard you try and get it by cramming your finger back there, that sucker is stuck. Seriously, it’s almost as if it is suction cupped to the back of your tongue. It’s horrible. Horrible! Sorry, that stopped being a metaphor and started being a literal critique of popcorn about half way through.
My point is that it is a fine line we must walk. Putting up a wall of assholy sarcasm is an easy way to isolate yourself from some very good people. The problem is, when you view the world through a veil of cynicism, you end up seeing everyone’s faults and none of their positives. Kindness and compassion have brought me more joy in my life than any time I have found it necessary to point out that a person used the wrong there/their/they’re.
So do your best. I know it is hard. More often than not, I don’t follow my own advice. Your mom is a good filter for me, and for that I am grateful. I went through much of my early twenties without a filter. Because of that, I often met with the aforementioned consequences of being a sarcastic, condescending, self-righteous asshole.
So to recap: Be nice. Understand that people are different and have different views. Just because you think you’re right, doesn't necessarily mean you’re right (unless they’re Republicans, then you’re usually right.) If people use improper grammar or use the wrong their/there/they’re, don’t correct them unless their paying you to be there copy editor. Bottom line: Choose to be the person that people call, not the person people call an asshole.
AND on the rare occasions that the stupidity of the world is just too overwhelming, when sarcastic rage bubbles up in your throat begging to come out and you know you MUST be an asshole or explode… make sure you’re a funny asshole.
P.S. If you haven't already joined us on the Ask Your Dad Facebook Page, you should. No assholes allowed. OK, a few.