There is a secret in early adulthood no one tells you, which is that your asshole becomes a problem. I was twenty-four. The wiping. I started to look at my life differently. I am someone old enough to have ass problems, and I can barely afford my rent. I got a job, got married, had you. I am thirty now and leave blood on the paper; it hurts good when you get that one spot and then you keep getting that spot even though that only deepens the problem and you to just find somewhere to sit and feel the sting for a while. I am telling you this because I am your father, and I love you.
I am not sure if the above is universal, and if not and you become thirty without ass problems, I am sorry I told you. I think of you sometimes, age thirty. But there are so many ways your life can go, and the bitch of it is it won’t matter if I warn you that we live our lives in the consequences of the decisions we make we didn’t realizing we were making, because you will inevitably make decisions you don’t realize you’re making when you’re making other decisions you think are more important to make. But I do imagine you at thirty with ass problems. That is certain.
If you stay runaway (though I am pretty sure you are sitting with your backpack at the curb out of sight behind the pine trees), there are many things I will have wanted to tell you before you became an adult, and even if you come back tonight or tomorrow or the next day, I may die before I can tell you. I try to tell myself every morning that people will die today, and many of them will not have expected to die today. That’s just good to remember all around, and I have a few more of those kind of items to tell you, though the advice I want to give is more specific—like “use ass cream.”
In light of the events of the evening, here’s another good thing to remember: When someone accuses you of doing something wrong—morally, logically, emotionally (I should point out the rules are different if it’s a legal situation)—always assume you did do something wrong. You can weigh the truth later, see if the punishment fit the crime (or whether there was a crime), and then decide if it is worth explaining yourself. Try to avoid explaining yourself. We become excessive in gesture when we hear something we say and believe too much in the way we said it, and no one likes to watch people pound their fist on a table, whether they agree or not. I am not talking about us as humans, I am talking about you and me, specifically, assuming that you will be like everyone else in America who takes on the ticks they least want to take on in their parents. Watching me pound my fist may scare you now, but one day you may be the one pounding your first so much that your son packs a bag and hides behind pine trees.
Forgive me for explaining myself, but your mother and I love each other very much. Sometimes we yell. Before you were born, she threw things, so what you’re seeing is an improvement. It must seem odd to you, people arguing about whether or not the beef was on sale, especially considering two dollars is at stake. I am only thirty; I can remember my parents fighting about many things that didn’t seem all that important, which sent me running away behind a pine tree. But I am here to let you know that the things people argue about are rarely what people are arguing about. Most of the time, it has to do with the way their ass crack feels at the moment, or something much more immediate that the people don’t want to consider it might be.
Here’s the rest of the real advice, the practical advice: The older you get, eating becomes less an event and more a necessary evil. For one, to keep healthy, you have to eat much less throughout the day (you will still get fat regardless), and two, indigestion is a real thing. Tonight, I think you saw the consequences of both in action. Your mother and I were both a little too hungry, and I shouldn’t eat red sauce past seven thirty. Rule number one should be don’t put yourself in a situation where you are too hungry to treat someone else well, or eat too much or eat what you know will give you indigestion and continue to do that, and number two is always have a pill to take just in case.
There is also this business with hair. For all you lose, you begin growing it in strange spots. You’ll experience this for the first time soon, but I’m telling you it just gets weirder. There’s not much to say here except be vigilant. Your mother appreciates it when I am vigilant, though mostly I am not. I could see her fixating on that one long strand of hair protruding from my left ear earlier, and before I sat down to write this, I studied myself in the mirror and found it. It is gone now, so when I go into the room to apologize, she will have one less reason to continue her anger toward me.
I think parents don’t usually tell us these more important things because they’re too busy telling us those good things to remember about personal choices and conducting yourself in relationships, but as your father, I think it’s more important to warn you about what your body is going to do in spite of the choices and the conduct. So drink water.