[Special note to The Sun-Times readers: This issue marks the end of my term as editor here. Those duties are now in the ever-capable hands of Bruce Guthrie and his staff. Thank you for sharing your time, events and stories.]
I’m a grandpa. I’ve got a grandson (he’s six, plays football and just got his green belt in something where people wrestle and are awarded color belts, and is cuter, smarter and stronger than your grandson) and have a granddaughter due next year. I get AARP discounts on motel rooms, without even asking (not that we ever go anywhere). More people call me “sir” than don’t.
And why shouldn’t I get this respect? I’ve got the look: Thinning (way thinning) gray hair and a slight stoop as comes with carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders for all these years. I mean look at me!
You’d give me a discount just for stooping my way through the door.
Yup, I tuck in my shirt pretty much all the time, and don’t get in a hurry in traffic. “Oh that’s nice waitress, and where are you from?” I’m a grandpa, and that’s how we do things.
And of course this whole carrying the weight of the world thing has taught me a few things along the way and, being a grandpa who also buys his ink by the barrel, I want to share some of those things with you, here, now. These are lessons hard-won but have proven to be invaluable and grandpa wants to share.
So, here’s one: The easiest way to eat a banana is not by peeling it “top down,” by grabbing the long stem and pulling it down, but by “bottom up.” Take that little end nub and you kind of pinch it and peel the banana. The thing peels a bunch of percent easier and neater.
And if you don’t believe me, then watch how a monkey does it. Yup, pinches the numb and peels. Probably wonders why those humans do it the hard way, but this isn’t a column about monkeys so we’ll stop there.
Here’s another, earned after I-can’t-count how many battles: If you just say “Please” or “Thank you,” no matter what, things will go smoother.
You might not feel like saying such a thing. That other person may be a jerk and who wants to say please and thank you to a jerk, right? You do my friend, you do. You want to because the time spent arguing with a jerk is time which could be used for other, better, things.
And so an attendant phrase, and this one, oh yeah, this one came hard. I didn’t come up with it, wish I had, and I’m not sure who did, but keeping this is the back of your head will save you endless headaches:
“Never try to teach a horse to swim. It gets you wet and annoys the horse.”
Right? Now you don’t have to blab this everywhere, unless you want to hear people’s stories about swimming horses. Just keep it in mind. The point being don’t waste your time trying to move what’s unmovable. It is literally a waste of time. Don’t waste your time (please).
Moving on: Carry a handkerchief and a pen knife. Look, at some point you’re either going to have to cut it open or sop it up, and having those things in your pocket will save you endless hassle. Plus then you’re the guy, grandpa-like, who zips out with the right tool when the emergency presents itself. If you’re like me, make it a cheap pen knife so you won’t be sad when you lose it.
As the years have gone on I’ve added “Pen and notebook” to the must-carry list. Because somewhere in that life experience the brain cells that I used to use for remembering stuff are now used for things like the best way to peel a banana.