Welcome to the real world, kid


Patrick James Lehl, this is your life.

Look, I realize you’re barely a month old, but from the moment my little sister exposed you to the world, you were immediately initiated into the land of curious humanity. And, yes, that is indeed a scary prospect.

But don’t get too worried about it. Yes, your mother is an incredible dork — of that, there is no question. And I’m more than certain she does not do a scintillating version of “Toora Loora” when you go to sleep at night. But she’s also one of the kindest, most honest and warmest individuals you’ll ever come across in this lifelong journey you are now beginning to undertake. Listen to her when she talks. She’s pretty bright.

(Uncle Insight #1 — Your mother was not always a mother. You will never get away with anything, because chances are she’s been there, done that. Listen to your Uncle Darin, it’s better to just take your medicine when she inevitably catches you one day. Get back to me in a few years, and I’ll fill you in on some real doozies from her past. Just remind me to tell you the story about a young lady, half a shaved head and your grandmother’s minivan.)

Now, in a little while you’ll begin to focus more on your surroundings and understand a bit what’s going on around you. That loud guy with all the energy who always seems to be around? That’s your brother, Gary. Stay on his good side, and your life will be much easier. Get on his bad side ... well, ask your mother how that worked out for her as a child.

In a few more years you’ll come to realize that in the grand scheme of things, you’re rather insignificant. That’s because you don’t have a job. Hence, no money. Hence, no girl. This is America, kid. Get a job.

(Uncle Insight #2 — Don’t be that guy without a job. That bald guy with the mustache who’s always funny and acts like your best friend? That’s your grandfather, Mac. He will turn on you more quickly than a lion on a limping caribou if you don’t have a job the moment you’re eligible. Think you’re Mac’s favorite? Just wait until you hit him up for money because you’re too lazy to work. Work hard and need a few bucks to get through a tough time? He’s there. Need money because you’re a couch potato? Duck.)

Your senior year of high school should be a time to remember for the rest of your life. It will be the last time you see many of the people you grew up with, though you’ll think at the time you’ll surely be friends with these people forever. Make that year count. Spend quality time with the teachers who have impacted your life, enjoy those moments with your parents before you go off to college and be sure to hit the books hard. Some of us chose to make that a year of partying, chasing women and ... Well, either way. Have fun that year. But don’t let it screw up your future. Of course, after you get that diploma ...

Go to college.

(Uncle Insight #3 — College is the time to figure out exactly what you want, to aim your sights and flat-out go for it. Do not spend this time attempting to build a 74-foot beer bong or trying to wiggle a schedule with no class beginning before 2 p.m. Trust me on this one, P.J. A semester of teachers discussing the mating habits of seven-eyed ferrets is not worth the extra sleep.)

Got that sheepskin? Terrific. Now it’s time to go get a real job. Remember all those days when you were younger and you just couldn’t wait until you became a grownup? Not a smart move, ace.

Swallow your pride. It’s time to find work. And, no, my little friend, you will not start out by being a corporate CEO. Nor will you be a publisher of a newspaper, a partner in a law firm or a chief surgeon. No, dear P.J., chances are you will be performing the time-honored task of kissing the bottom of a person of whom you will rely on for both money and a future. Pucker up, pal.

Now you need a place to live. Yes, your parents love you very much. No, they won’t let you live with them.

The first thing you’ll need to do is find a place you can afford. Preferably, one without nocturnal beings lurking in the dark. I remember, for instance, my first apartment. My friends and I would take bets over which rat could eat through ...

But I digress.

Find a clean place, Patrick. Then keep it clean. Being a slob and hanging your underwear from your dorm room lamp makes you “a character” in college. As an adult, it makes you a pig. Without a girlfriend.

This little cycle will continue until ... well, good luck, Patrick.

(Uncle Insight #4 — At some point in your life, you will be afflicted with what’s affectionately known as the “McCann Slump” by your Great Uncle Tim. It could involve a tough time in the classroom, a rough spell with girls or a fleet of police sirens in your wake. Get through it, little buddy. It passes, if you decide to make it pass.)