Barry Smith: Irrelativity |

Barry Smith: Irrelativity

Jordan Curet The Aspen Times
ALL | The Aspen Times

As I round third base for the home stretch of the last few laps toward crossing the field-goal hurdle of a shockingly significant birthday, one thing comes to mind: I should know by now not to attempt sports metaphors.

I think back on all the many, many things that I’ve learned over the years, all those little fried wisdom nuggets that have made their way onto my plate, those morsels of delectable common sense, the tangy sauces of insight, the chewy nougat of profound … OK, food metaphors should be left behind, too.

Here’s my point: It’s my birthday tomorrow. I’ve accumulated some knowledge during my time on the planet. Luckily, all of it fits in this small space:

• Don’t wait until you’re too old to make yourself a bucket list. Do this while you’re still young. Here’s mine:

Bucket list: 1. Scum, 2. Slop, 3. Spit, 4. 12-piece extra crispy.

• If, hypothetically, you volunteer to edit a friend’s wedding video and do this on a trade basis, make sure you complete the trade sooner than later because it’s awkward to bring it up after the divorce.

• Some people are lying to you. Sometimes they know it. Sometimes they don’t and can’t help it. You get to spend your whole life sorting these people out from one another. Have fun. Oh, and sometimes you’re one of them. Have even more fun.

• “Han shot first” anagrams into “Shirt fonts? Ha!”

• The most useful thing I’ve ever learned: Give a man a fish, feed him for a day. Give a man a fish stick, feed him for a minute or two.

• Everyone has something to teach you. Especially people who wear suits. They know more than you do. And make more money. And are just generally better. I’m gonna get a suit some day.

• Don’t listen to sarcastic people. They will drag you down.

• Oh, wait – that’s me …

• If someone tells you that they have the answer, don’t believe them. If someone tells you that they don’t have the answer, insist that they do, and demand that they give it to you right now, and then camp out on their front lawn until they do.

• “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” Some people swear by this philosophy. If you know someone like that, it’s best not to invite them to a magic show. Especially not to see Shame-O the Magnificent!

• If you just bought a cup of coffee and they tell you to throw it away at the airport security line, don’t listen to them! All you have to do is pour all of the coffee into your mouth and keep it in your cheeks while you go through all that screening stuff. Then when you’re on the other side, just spit it back in your cup, and you can go back to leisurely sipping it. Make sure you hang on to your cup, though. And that you didn’t just eat some granola.

• Hey youngsters, here’s a way to time travel! Scroll forward on your computer calendar, all the way up until the day of your 80th birthday, and leave a note for your future self. Write, “WHAT ARE YOU DOING!? PEOPLE DON’T USE COMPUTERS ANYMORE! YOU’RE OLD, AND YOU’RE EMBARRASSING YOURSELF!” Make sure you type in all caps because you’ll probably be hard of hearing by that age.

• “Don’t drink out of anything that somebody could have peed in.” My mother told me this when I was 11 and was, for some reason, considering taking a swig from a bottle I’d just found in a ditch. This is a bit of Southern, down-home wisdom that I wish I’d taken to heart sooner. Live and learn, they say, though they just as easily could have said, “Live, drink out of something that somebody may have peed in, and learn.” Either way works.

• They say that a smart man learns from his own mistakes, but a wise man learns from others’ mistakes. So it must follow that a truly wise man learns from spending countless hours watching short compilation videos of other people’s mistakes on YouTube.

Barry Smith’s column appears Mondays in The Aspen Times. More at

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