Tomorrow marks a milestone: I will have been alive for 2 decades. It will also mark the 67th birthday of my Gemini twin, a myth, a legend, a French Canadian, and the topic of two different college entrance essays: the man the world calls “Uncle Danny” and I call “Poppy.” Now he’s been alive exactly 47 years longer than me, so it seems fitting that he would have passed along some advice to me. As I’m feeling generous, I would like to now pass some of that wisdom on to you.
- Food: “We gonna eat or we gonna starve?!” The philosophy is simple: we ain’t here for a long time, we’re here for a good time so go ahead and eat that second slice of cake. Don’t try to fool this man with health food either. Although he did once eat a few pupperoni sticks (“worst damn slim jims I ever had in my life”), we still haven’t heard the end of the time he ate what turned out to be not a delicious sugary confection, but a black bean brownie, at my uncle’s house.
- Hard Work: “I only shit on overtime.” The man is famous for saving his bowel movements whole weekends, just so he could get paid to do them at work. Perks of the job. The important lesson here is not self-inflicted constipation, but to work hard for your money. Don’t be afraid of a little struggle to make that extra dough (and if there’s a way to stick it to the man then do it).
- Direction: “Piss it you Gremlin! I know where I’m going!” The Gremlin is that little machine that sits on your dashboard and constantly says “recalculating” because you didn’t go the way it told you to (you know a better way). Knowing where you’re going is important, and being able to turn off the outside noise is important as well. Don’t go left just to spite the person that told you to go right, but don’t be afraid to find an unconventional way to end up where you’re supposed to be.
- Staying Put: “Ass-uh on the grass-uh.” Okay he may have first said it to my mom and uncle back in 1980-something, but he told me that story enough times to get the point across. First, don’t wander around the parking lot of Disney when your father goes to get the car. Second, if you’re in a good spot, don’t give it up easily. Whether it’s your chair by the fire, or a steady job, don’t go chasing waterfalls when you’ve got a plenty of good rivers and streams you’re used to right in front of you.
- Know Yourself: “That’s out!” Whether it’s falling asleep at every family gathering, meeting at the same Panera for the same coffee every morning, or trying to scrap everything in the house, this man knows what he’s about. Anytime there’s something he’s not interested in “that’s out,” unless of course it will make someone else happy. Setting boundaries in life is important, but breaking them is even more important.
Never forget: There’s a lot to learn about life (especially from a man who’s been clinically dead). And as the French say: Joyeux anniversaire et laissez les bon temps rouler!