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Al Batt: Look at you over there, being all smart and stuff

Tales from Exit 22 by Al Batt

My sheepskin had a tail.

That tells you where I ranked in the class, but I’m giving a graduation speech in my dreams.

I’ll talk about what I know. I’ll be brief.

I’m from a generation far, far away. I missed my first day of school and am still trying to catch up, but here I am.

You’ll never again chant, “It’s all right. It’s OK. You’ll be working for us one day,” after a disastrous loss in football.

You’re now qualified to make educated guesses, floss regularly, travel, stretch, walk, be quick to smile, be grateful, forgive, spend time in nature, shop local, listen to your elders and doctors, see your dentist biweekly (that’s twice a week every other week), choose a superpower and eat heaping amounts of fruits and vegetables. Pay attention. A simple way to do that is to listen. We listen to others because it gives us something to do until it’s our turn to talk. Listen to each word as listening provides a marvelous education. People like people who listen to them even if they’re merely pretending. Calvin Coolidge said little, but he did say, “No man ever listened himself out of a job.” The best skill you can learn is how to listen. We talk 125 words per minute and listen to 400. The world needs more people who listen to graduation speakers.

All the right answers haven’t been given and you’ll always have teachers. Keep learning. What color is a giraffe’s tongue? It’s black, blue or purple and it’s assumed that coloration protects the tongue from getting sunburned while the animal is eating. It’s a natural sunscreen. You don’t have to believe me. Do your own research.

Forget your junior high school locker combination to free up space in your brain. It makes a lousy password. Buy a piggy bank that holds bitcoins. You can never have too many flashlights. Embrace Occam’s razor that suggests the simplest solution is almost always the best one.

I know everyone has told you that you’re precious. Sometimes you’re not. It’s never too late to be an idiot. I’m a prime example. I can count the number of times I’ve won an argument with my wife on one hand as long as I don’t include my thumb, forefinger and pinky. Find a life partner who is your month of May even if you never win an argument.

A friend rode his electric bicycle on the lake ice. An ice fisherman asked if he’d ever dumped the bike. He dumped it for the first time shortly after answering that question with a “no.” Life will keep you humble. Lucy repeatedly pulled the football away before Charlie Brown could kick it in the “Peanuts” comic strip. People tell you not to worry, things will get better. Sadly, things don’t always get better, but they will change unless you’re Lucy and Charlie Brown. Erma Bombeck and many others have said, “Worry is like a rocking chair: It gives you something to do, but it doesn’t get you anywhere.”

Jimmy Buffett said, “Life is more manageable when thought of as a scavenger hunt as opposed to a surprise party.” Warren Buffett described an economic moat as the distinct advantage a company has over its competitors that allows it to protect market share and profitability. It’s an advantage that’s difficult to duplicate and creates an effective barrier against competition. Get yourself a moat. I have a cousin who is a contractor who installs moats. Talk to me later.

Yogi Berra said, “Ninety percent of this game is half mental.” That applies to everything. Take a hint from your car’s GPS and recalculate. There is no reason to be bored. Hoover up the moments. Life is constructed around joy and grief. When one door closes, another door opens. That means you’ve hired a bad contractor.

Your mother tells you to always take a jacket. So always take a jacket. Weather matters. Being an adult means you’ll debate proper lawn care, declare “I remember when” frequently, drive minivans, discuss life insurance and discover boo-boos happen at any age. I’ll pause while you shudder.

When I was a youngster, older boys asked if I liked butter. I lived on a dairy farm. I liked butter. As soon as I said I did, one wiped a dandelion flower across my face. That left a smear of yellow on my mug. Have you ever fallen for that trick? No? Then you’re smarter than I am. You’ll do fine.

Tag, you’re it.

Al Batt’s columns appear every Wednesday in the Tribune.