Wear a Belt - With Advice to Mary Schmich, Author of Wear Sunscreen

Erik is out of the office this week, so we are reprinting a column from 1999, because we didn't think he'd notice.

With deepest apologies to Mary Schmich, columnist for the Chicago Tribune, and the original writer of the "Wear Sunscreen" column/song that was played to death on the radio.

To the Guys of North America:

Wear a belt.

If I could offer you only one tip for the future, a belt would be it. Scientists have proved that exposure of your butt crack is enough to make innocent bystanders within a 20' radius laugh and point at you behind your back.

The rest of my advice has no basis in science, but is probably the result of hearing jokes on the radio, late-night latte and doughnut binges.

Enjoy the power and beauty of all the babes you see at the beach. Oh, I know, you're there with your wife, and she's the jealous type. But trust me, in 20 years, you'll look back at that time on the beach and say to yourself, "I wish I had bought those mirrored sunglasses when I had the chance."

Don't worry about the future. You'll be dead before it gets here. You know, if I were as clever as Mary Schmich, I'd say something clever about solving algebra by chewing bubble gum, but then again, that's why she works for the Chicago Tribune, and I don't.

Do one thing every day that scares you, as long as it doesn't involve snakes.

Sing in your car, but for Pete's sake, remember that other people CAN see you through the car window. No one wants to see a Guy singing "My Heart Will Go On" with Celine Dion.

Don't be reckless with other people's hearts. It leaves fingerprints, and makes it easier for the police to find you.

Floss. And brush. And use a decent mouthwash. Your morning breath could kill a horse.

Remember compliments you receive. Remember the insults even more. Hatch sinister plots to get back at those people. Sign them up for every telemarketing list you can find.

Keep your old love letters, but hide them away from your wife. Remember, she's the jealous type. Throw away your old bank statements, even though you'll need them during your upcoming IRS audit.

Don't feel guilty if you still have no idea about what to do with your life. Don't berate yourself just because you're a 33 year old slacker who lives with his parents in their basement. Some of the most interesting people I know had no direction in their lives, but they were usually on Jerry Springer.

Get plenty of calcium, or at least the kind that comes in beer. Be kind to your knees. You'll need them to carry that beer gut you're sporting.

Maybe you'll marry, maybe you'll just be a stalker. Maybe you'll divorce at 40, and go through a mid-life crisis. Maybe you'll dance the funky chicken on your 75th wedding anniversary. But if you do, rest assured that your children are going to laugh and say "There goes Dad, dancing the funky chicken again. Maybe we should put him in a home."

Enjoy your body, but keep in mind that the stuff you're probably thinking of is still illegal in several states in the South. Don't be afraid of what other people think of your body, unless you're a male stripper. Then, your body is your bread and butter.

Dance, especially if you are a male stripper. Women won't stuff dollar bills down your G-string if you're just standing still.

Read the directions, but for God's sake, don't ever ask for any.

Do not read beauty magazines. They're for women.

Don't worry about getting to know your parents. If you don't know them by now, you have a bigger problem, like whether you'll get any of their stuff after they're gone.

Understand that friends come and go, but hold on to the ones who will help you move. Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography, lifestyle, and whether or not they'll help you for beer and pizza.

Live in Canada, but leave before you start saying "about" funny. Live in Indiana, but leave before you start saying "warsh" and talking about Dan Quayle as a viable presidential candidate.

Accept certain inalienable truths: Taxes will increase. Politicians will continue to screw the American people. You, too, will get old. And when you do, you'll wonder why the heck you never bought your own island in the Caribbean and moved down there.

Respect your elders, especially if they have a lot of money.

Don't expect anyone else to support you. Maybe you have a trust fund. Maybe you'll have a wealthy spouse. But don't be surprised if one ran off with your accountant, taking the other with them in the middle of the night.

Don't mess too much with your hair. It's falling out and turning grey. Remember that thing I just said about getting old being an inalienable truth?

Be careful whose advice you buy, especially if the name "Psychic Friends" appears on your credit card bill. Psychic Friends is a form of a scam. Dispensing it is just a way of making stuff up as they go along, playing mysterious, yet soothing music in the background, and selling the whole package for much, much more than it's worth. Much more.

But trust me on the belt. And you might consider putting on some underwear too.

The second edition of Branding Yourself: How to Use Social Media to Invent or Reinvent Yourself (affiliate link), is now available. I wrote it with my good friend, Kyle Lacy.

My other book, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide to Social Media Marketing is also out.

You can get both of them from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Books-A-Million in October, or for the Kindle or Nook.


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