Some Free Advice

At a certain age, you feel the need to offer pointers to the next generation

When you reach an advanced age in life you want to be able to pass along advice on what you've learned. After all, that's what civilization is all about—knowledge passed down from one generation to the next in the long march of history.

So I got to thinking about the lessons I have learned during my life that have value and shouldn't be lost to the sands of time.

Herewith, a sampling:

Poetry can enrich your life. I've found one little ditty that has stood me in good stead on many a dark and stormy Saturday night. It's also easy to remember when your brain might be a little fuzzy: "Whiskey on beer, never fear. Beer on whiskey, mighty risky."

Never buy a horse named Devil.

To avoid standing around in the cold or having to make an embarrassing call to your spouse, don't ever lock a door unless you use the key. Never buy anything, especially a car, that locks itself. Sooner or later, it'll get you.

Never kick a hound when you are barefoot, regardless of provocation.

When you buy and use a tube of superglue, go ahead and throw it away. The next time you want to use it you won't be able to find it. And even if you did, you couldn't get the cap off.

Never put your eyeglasses down on a chair, a bed, or any other flat surface on which someone can plant a big butt.

Even if you loved Lonesome Dove, don't buy a mare whose nickname is Hell Bitch.

Never make election predictions in a publication that is archived on the Internet.

Never vote for a politician who constantly bashes gay people. Sooner or later there'll be an embarrassing incident in a public restroom.

If your wife explains a problem she is having, you will be tempted to offer advice—your first instinct being to find a solution. Don't. If the problem involves you in any way, say you are sorry.

Unless you are between the ages of 12 and 22, don't go to the movies. Except in pre-Academy Award season December.

Don't ever listen to an owner who tells you his growling dog won't bite.

Don't ever buy a time share.

Don't ever try and overhaul your car's engine, even if your neighbor offers to help and assures you there's nothing to it.

Don't ever drink moonshine unless the guy who made it drinks some first. (And wait a half hour.)

The very best homemade wine tastes worse than the cheapest wine you can buy at the liquor store. But if someone gives you some, add brandy at about 30 percent, and it improves remarkably.

Don't ever buy a horse named Hitler.

Don't wear flip-flops when using a chain saw.

Use tools correctly. Specifically, don't use a hammer instead of a screwdriver.

Don't bush hog your pasture with your lawn tractor.

Don't get me started on dining out:

Don't order fish in a steakhouse. In a seafood restaurant don't worry if the fish is fresh—it's the mayo in the week-old slaw that will kill you. If you are going to eat chicken, stay home.

Don't eat in a chain restaurant if the CEO of the company is worried about his cholesterol.

Don't order a steak in a restaurant unless they serve yeast rolls or Texas toast, because they obviously don't understand what constitutes a steak dinner. If they serve dark brown Eastern Bloc communist bread, go someplace else.

Don't go back to a place if they serve your food with foreign substances mixed in. That would include aluminum foil on your potato, colored plastic spikes in your steak, and paper butter pats.

Even if the waiter tells you they don't use MSG, if your nose goes numb and starts to itch when you eat your salad, don't go back.

Never eat lunch in a restaurant that has more than three public relations people at various tables. People aren't there for the food.