Al Batt: Please don’t even consider taking my advice

Published 9:27 am Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Al Batt’s columns appear every Wednesday and Sunday. 

It must have been a slow school year.

A college student wrote about me for her school.

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The interview went well. I’d answered each question as I’d imagined a grownup would. I’d even throw in a “Zounds!” in the hopes that she might have mistaken me for a Shakespearean scholar.

She thanked me and said she had one last question.

I’m not saying I’m good with questions, but my favorite has always been the last one. It was always a great relief to see the last question of a long test.

She asked, “What advice would you give me?”

The door of doubt swung wide. I’m a husband. We don’t get asked our advice on much of anything other than the occasional, “Eat this tuna salad. Does it taste funny to you?”

Nobody thinks we’re smart. Maybe I had this young woman fooled. She didn’t know I’d gone to Israel in search of the Dead Sea squirrels.

I paused and posed reflectively. I hoped it would appear that I was deep in thought. I was shallow in thought. I thought of a friend who owns a Roomba, a small disc-shaped, robotic vacuum cleaner that hunts down dirt ruthlessly. His dedicated Roomba moves about the house in pursuit of hidden dirt even when no human is home. Then it hides. I told him that he probably owned a haunted Roomba.

He told me, “You shouldn’t believe in haunted vacuum cleaners.”

That, right there, is good advice, but it didn’t seem a proper answer to her question.

The clock was ticking.

I replied, “Don’t take my advice.”

I wasn’t trying to be flippant, but I felt guilty. I had to feel guilty. I’ve had the proper training. Besides, she’d elevated an eyebrow.

“And floss regularly,” I added.

She gave me an odd look. I’m used to that. I explained it was my theory that the Tyrannosaurus rex, a ferocious dinosaur who could have started at middle linebacker for the Vikings and had the ability to play hurt, was cranky because of its short arms.

There was a long pause before she asked, “What does that have to do with flossing?”

I explained, “Because of those short arms, the T. rex was unable to wear a hat or floss its teeth. Because it didn’t floss, it became susceptible to gum disease. It suffered from toothaches. It became cantankerous and that might have led to its extinction. It should have seen a dentistsaurus every six months.

I got another look.

Maybe I should have told her, “Don’t count your sheep before they hatch.”

“It’s just my theory,” I added.

The camera panned back and the music swelled.

She nodded and wrote that down. I felt good about that. She was an astute young woman and I’m sure she’d be able to, via clever word usage, write a piece that portrayed me as a pleasant rather than a pathetic person.

I don’t mean to say that if dinosaurs had listened to advice, they wouldn’t have gone extinct. They probably wouldn’t have listened.

Dinosaurs weren’t too big to fail. That means that we certainly aren’t too big to fail. We search for answers. If we had the answers, what would we do with the extra time we’d have by not having to search? As a youngster, I was given the usual advice. Good stuff.

Do what you love and the money will follow.

Never anger a cook.

If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.

Life is a fast horse.

Go outside. You need sunshine to grow.

Happy wife, happy life.

Nothing good happens after midnight.

Always get up after you’ve gone to bed.

Change the oil in your car regularly.

Three working together will bear the burden of six.

Don’t be in a hurry to get older. There is only so much young in the bank.

Advice is worth what you pay for it.

Judge not lest ye be judged.

Take a jacket.

I picked things up along the way from such noted philosophers as Dolly Parton who said, “If you don’t like the road you’re walking, start paving another one.”

I learned enough at the school of hard knocks to be awarded a doctorate in advice giving. Here’s some of that.

Using dynamite isn’t a good way to harvest sweetcorn.

When the officer says, “Do you know why I pulled you over?” he isn’t asking for advice.

Don’t toast your Pop-Tarts.

Remember where you keep your brains.

Take a jacket, but wear a helmet.