Dear 16-year-old Robert,
It seems as if you’ll never get to 21, but you will; as a matter of fact, I can confirm you will live at least until you’re 33. Even though you think you’re grown now, you still have more growing up to do. Much more. But, I do have some good news: puberty is almost over. I know, you still can’t grow any facial hair, but that will change in a couple of years. You’re looking forward to shaving but, trust me, you’re better off waiting. Dad can grow a moustache in a week and a beard in two weeks, but you apparently didn’t inherit that trait from him. However, your shoe size, shirt size and pants size will be the same for at least another 17 years; you have no idea how much of a blessing that will be.
Remember when Dad told you to never lie to get a woman? He’s 100 percent correct. It may seem you have to be untruthful, lest you wind up a virgin for the rest of your life, but that isn’t the case. Women will like you – and a few will even fall in love with you – even though you’re a sports-obsessed dork who has memorized every single line of Seinfeld. Believe it or not, there are already a few beautiful young ladies who find you attractive. You know that really pretty girl in the Ecology Club? Well, she’s had a crush on you for about a year. I know, you think no one that gorgeous would ever look your way, but that isn’t true. Attractive women will date you as long as you’re true to yourself, and that can only happen if you’re honest; you can’t be honest with women if you aren’t honest with yourself. And, stop lusting after women who will never date you, like that girl in your journalism class. For one, you keep staring at her; she’s noticed and she probably thinks it’s creepy; regardless, your excessive staring isn’t going to endear you to her. If you see someone you like, talk to her and try to get to know her. A five-minute conversation with a woman is all you’ll need to determine whether she’s up your alley or not. And, be patient. I know that’s easier said than done when your hormones are raging you’re looking to end your lifelong streak of no sex, but the wait will be worth it.
I know you’re already 16, but it isn’t too late to learn how to play a musical instrument. Mom and Dad will pay for a guitar and guitar lessons if you show you’re serious about learning. Don’t feel like you need to form a band and become the next Jimmy Hendrix, just start with the basics and go from there. Also, learning how to play the guitar will help you get some of those women you’re always lusting after. For reasons I still don’t understand, women like guys who play the guitar, even if those guys aren’t in a band.
You’re not sure what you want to do with the rest of your life yet, but you know you want to be involved in baseball somehow, which is a good start. Keep looking for opportunities to do things that interest you, regardless of how little they pay, if they pay at all. If you continue to do things you like, you’ll eventually get paid to do something you love for a living. Thank goodness you’re not like many of your classmates, who do things because they think that’s what college admission officials want to see them doing rather than doing things because it’s what they want to do. Years from now, no one will care if you were in the Latin Club or if you built a bridge out of Popsicle sticks. Besides, even though you’re very smart, you aren’t going to Harvard. So, don’t sweat it.
I know you think computer engineering or computer science would be a good college major for you, but it won’t be. Wait until you take AP Calculus; that’s when you’ll realize any field involving abstract, high-level math isn’t for you. In calculus, they talk about things like imaginary numbers. Yeah, imaginary numbers! As if we didn’t have enough to worry about with numbers we know exist! Actually, don’t take AP Calculus; take AP English instead. I know, you think literary criticism is stupid and that your English teachers are wasting your time trying to find meaning in every word of every book, but you’re better at literary criticism than you think. And, you’re a better writer than you think. You need to write more often, preferably every day. You think you have nothing interesting to write about, but just write what you see and what you feel and you’ll be amazed with what emerges.
By the way, once you graduate college, Mom will offer to take you to Europe as a graduation present. Make sure you take Mom up on her offer, rather than rebuffing her because you feel you need to find a full-time job immediately. Who knows if you’ll ever get another opportunity to go to Europe?
The Knicks are a fun team to watch right now, aren’t they? Enjoy this while you can; just trust me on this. Brighter days are ahead for the Mets, even though you will never see Bernard Gilkey play this well ever again. You know how the Mets’ broadcasters are always talking about Alex Ochoa’s inability to turn on the inside pitch, thus limiting his power potential? He will never figure that out. I know Ochoa’s supposed to be a five-tool player, but always remain skeptical about any prospect referred to as a five-tool player; they often disappoint. Also, if you do decide to bet your friend Paul $10 that the Atlanta Braves will beat the New York Yankees in the World Series, don’t gloat after the Braves win the first two games; it’s bad karma. Remember how excited you were when the New York Giants drafted Tyrone Wheatley in the first round? Don’t be. Also, Dave Brown will never become a competent NFL quarterback.
When you hear people five or 10 years older than you tell you about all the great experiences they’ve had and the cool things they’ve done, you wonder if you’ll ever be able to tell stories like that. It seems like nothing exciting is happening in your life, but that’s not true. Just keep pursuing your interests, regardless of how strange or dorky they may seem, and the experiences will follow. And, before you know it, you’ll have plenty of great experiences of your own to share.
33-year-old RobertFollow @raford3