Inspired by Brad Paisley’s song “Letter to Me” and the recent Sports Illustrated feature asking athletes to write to their high school selves, I dashed off this note to myself circa 1982.
Dear Me at 17,
You’re tall. It’s a fact, not a criticism so stand up straight. All that time you and your friend Diane spend perfecting your slouch is not fooling anyone. You don’t look quasi-petite, you look like Quasimodo.
Play golf. You’re wrong when you say it’s a sport for old people. Learn to play golf and you’ll be prepared in your later years to while away hours happily under the guise of important business. You’ll roam beautiful settings with interesting people and sip cool drinks from a handy beverage cart. Listen to your father, 17-year old me, and take the golf lessons. I’m begging you.
Slow down when you approach the on-ramp to highway 41, even though you’re late to pick up your sister from her ice skating lesson in DePere. There’s road construction at the top of that ramp and, if you don’t slow down you’re going to look left to merge and smack right into that blue Pontiac stopped dead in front of you. This is important advice because, even though no one gets hurt in this little mishap, your older brother is going to tell the story of you totaling that car for the next 32 years.
Put away the mascara wand. You don’t know what you’re doing! Listen to me carefully because if you don’t heed this advice you’re going to end up with a lopsided senior portrait in which you have a set of naked eye lashes on your left eye, and a black mascara-ed set of lashes on your right. Not cool, 17-year old Me, not cool at all.
Be greedy with your heroes, especially the one who raised you. He’s as great as you think he is and he won’t be here forever. Take walks, go out for ice cream, grab some time alone with him and talk.
Oh, and when you and your friends sneak out one night to dress the St. Francis Xavier statue in front of your school in inappropriate attire? Don’t leave behind the box of straight pins with your name and home room written right on them. Yeah, you’re about to do that.