Writing Switches Off
You can’t change the past. At least not for the everyman, not yet — those who have figured out this technology are undoubtedly still jealously guarding its secrets and greedily using it for their own gain. What you can do, though, is alter the future by doing something different than what you were going to do, randomizing your actions like bet sizing at a blackjack table. It’s the only way to beat the house, and it’s a cosmic, existential power bestowed in all of us. So, after just a few weeks shy of three years and somewhere near 100 columns, this is our last episode of Writing Switch with this current cast of characters (maybe one day Sean will guest host under a pseudonym to protect the innocent). We couldn’t have done it without, and are so grateful for, our readers. Just kidding; all of this was exclusively for our own amusement with no regard for anyone else’s perceptions whatsoever.
Anyway, this week we sign off not with a rumination of the Before, but with advice to self in the After with…
Letters to our future selves
BW: I see two outcomes for you, Future Ben — neither one much preferred over the other — but I must steer you toward which one closer fulfills your hedonistic nature: you are either reading this, alive, or you are dead. I suppose that is true for all of us. I hope you are still of this world, I suppose, unless the manner by which you met your demise was particularly thrilling and blissfully sudden, but being that the next time I peruse this will probably be within a few days, my wish is that you are doing well.
Remember to keep swinging for the fences. Even if you only hit one seven-team parlay every three NFL seasons, you still break even. And if you hit two, hell, then you’re practically a millionaire. I know sometimes we get down on ourselves (I don’t know if I’m supposed to be reading/writing this in first, second or third person) about being inordinately “unlucky,” or whatever, but remember we often take the longer odds for that sweet, sweet payout. Don’t get upset when you take a bad beat, but remember: now I’m even MORE due. I’m gonna order you a pendant with that obnoxious little list of everything Abraham Lincoln failed at before becoming, you know, president. Reach around your neck and caress the pendant now. Mmm, yes. Let’s be PRESIDENT.
I hope you don’t have any underlings, unless it’s your personal assistant. I hope you don’t have any younglings either, recent or realized.
It’s weird that I feel so old at 30. Hell, by the time we’re actually old, medicine will have advanced so far that we’ll be living into our 200s. The pandemic really came at the lamest time age-wise, although I wouldn’t want to be a kid during it either. Jeez, I hope humanity is on a better track these days, but optimism is perverse.
If you’re gonna send a crazy email, send it in the middle of the day, that’ll confuse ’em. And If you’re not gonna wear socks, wash your feet before bed.
You know how important it is to be yourself, because imitation is just doing something that’s already been done, and I hope that rudimentary philosophy worked out for us. I hope you’re not in some purgatory writing community event previews, but also, a season as a guy who holds the slow/stop sign on street construction sounds kind of fun.
By now, you and Future Sean should have gotten far enough along with your screenplay to have at least submitted it to a few networks or whatever. Is that what a “treatment” is? I guess I’m going to have to learn terminology later. Anyway, how’d that work out for you guys? It was my “Twins” reboot that was the moneymaker, wasn’t it? We’re excited to find out.
SB: Future Sean,
I know this is an advice piece, but I wanted to check if they ever made the actual hover board from “Back to the Future,” jetpacks, teleportation and “Action Man.” (That last one is a little inside idea between us Seans, so you’re just going to have to accept that we’re going to leave you in the dark.)
Also, I don’t have any parameters, so I’m not sure which age Sean I’m talking to. If it’s 40-year-old Sean, I hope you’re not back in Aspen and are thriving in Chicago. If it’s 50-year-old Sean, I hope you’ve kept in shape enough to snowboard as aggressively as you want. (I also hope that you’re still bombing down blues and blacks because if I catch word that you’re taking boundary-to-boundary turns, I’m going to kill us now.)
If it’s 60-year-old Sean, I hope you’ve got enough saved from whatever costly endeavor you’re pursued to retire sometime in this decade. Ideally, that expense is kids, but worst case you self-published your self-help book, “How to roll blunts, talk shit, play ‘NBA Street: Vol. 2’ and barbecue.”
I told you that was a bad and entirely too specific idea. Clearly, Caitlin is not in your life anymore. (Note to self: Tell Caitlin not to let you self-publish “How to roll blunts, talk shit, play ‘NBA Street: Vol. 2’ and barbecue.”)
If it’s my 70-year-old self, man, you better be alive, and by alive, I don’t mean staring off into space and listening to podcasts. Get out and go explore the world (assuming it’s still around). Shit, if you can go into space, do it up.
If you’re living in space, open the airlock. That is not an existence you want. Remember how much you wanted a backyard? Actually, if it’s like “The Jetsons,” don’t kill yourself, and I hope you have that treadmill/dog-walking thing off your space patio. Also, you came up with the idea to name your dog Astro before everyone relocated to space, so don’t let anyone else take credit for that.
If it’s my 80-year-old self, and you’ve got a retirement home in Aspen, things either went extremely well career wise (and Caitlin didn’t let you publish “How to roll blunts, talk shit, play ‘NBA Street: Vol. 2’ and barbecue.”) or snowboarding isn’t a thing anymore. If that’s the case, I know you’ve tried sand snowboarding — is that even what it’s called? — so let me know how that is, please.
I’m assuming by the 2060s we’ve cracked time travel, and you haven’t said hello because you figured out our future and past selves can’t mingle. (If it’s a multi-verse situation, don’t sleep with the female version of yourself.)
If it’s any version of myself past 90, let’s chalk up every day as a win and hope you still have enough teeth to eat ribs.
That may be the longest qualifier in the now-finite history of Writing Switch. Sorry, previous Ben and Sean didn’t talk logistics, so I’ll settle for near future Sean and Ben.
Don’t be afraid to write like you’re still penning this column for your six loyal readers. No one ever became a better writer by staying in their comfort zone. Failure will happen, columns will get held, co-workers will make you hold off on a good idea for a piece until it’s your last column together and you’re falling asleep at your keyboard trying to work two jobs while packing your apartment on five hours of sleep.
Carry on, keep writing, don’t email it in. We all know that five minutes after you file, you’re going to think of a better joke, a better word, a better point, so take the extra time to thoroughly proofread and tighten.
Hope that at your next job you have a coworker who becomes a dear friend, who you bullshit with for three hours and four beers before uttering the question, “So, what are we writing about this week?”
Also, save the sentimental rhetoric for that future coworker because you never made past Ben or past Sean laugh by having a heart — even though you both know it’s there.
The best thing to do is stay present, stay sharp, call out absurdities, be a voice for freedom and truth because if we solely focus on the past or future we’ll lose sight of how awesomely ridiculous everyday life is.
Remember, if you’re laughing at it, chances are future, past and present Ben and Sean probably are, too (but that does NOT mean it’s printable).
And with that, I’ve hurdied my last gurd. Fare thee well and best of cuck.
Total Ben and Sean hug count: 1. Total columns in pupper voice: 0 (there was one in moose, though).