Letter to myself as a young man, aged 10

Dear Mark,

Hey buddy, you’re not going to believe this but this is you. I mean me! I mean you!

I mean I’m you, writing from the future. I’m the future you!

How is this possible, you ask? Well, the Time Lords were kind enough to open a wormhole and let me pass this letter through to you. Don’t worry what this means, you will understand in a few years when Star Trek: The Next Generation comes out. That’s right, they are making a new Star Trek series and it is the bomb! (Future slang that means awesome.)

Anyway, if you don’t believe it’s me/you, I’ll prove it. I know about the Hustler you stashed down by the treehouse. I also know you only cried once after dad left – or before, right? The night before he left. And I know that last summer at Camp Maranatha you went the whole five days without pooping because you hate to go anywhere that isn’t your own home and the outhouse at camp is a three-seater and you just can’t go poop with another guy sitting there especially if it’s a counselor.

Okay, I guess you believe me now. The reason I’m writing to you is that I know things are tough for you right now, and I know they will be tough in the next few years. I want to tell you some things that will help you.

First of all, don’t feel bad about the Hustler! Porn is fine (mostly), and you will never have the problems with it that people will warn you about. You do have to keep hiding it, because it is not socially acceptable and you will get in trouble. But for you personally there is nothing harmful in it. It is just like junk food. You like it, but you never eat very much, and consequently you will avoid tooth decay and obesity until you’re my age, i.e. OLD! Porn is just the same. Do not worry about it.

Also you should definitely not feel bad that you didn’t cry very much about dad leaving. I’ll just tell you this, and hopefully it will not freak you out: dad is not coming back. I know people ask you when he’s coming back, and it makes you uncomfortable because you don’t know. Not having him around is going to make life difficult for you, mom, Nathan, John and Erin. But if he had stuck around, you gotta believe me, your life would be worse.

Well, maybe I can’t be sure about that, but let me put it this way. Even though your life is going to have some ups and downs related to not having a dad, it is basically an awesome, one-of-a-kind life. You will have a ton of rich experiences that would not be possible with the old man lurking around calling the shots. Okay? You are better off.

However! You now have more responsibility as a man of the house. Mom needs a lot of help, so don’t be a dick, OK? Help out as much as you can, and get John and Erin to help out too. You’re going to think she is a bitch a lot of the time, but that’s just because she’s under a lot of pressure taking care of you guys. Go easy on her. Don’t be a dick.

And about that not pooping thing, yeah. Going in your own bathroom is best, for sure. Away-game pooping is no fun. But let’s not forget, everybody poops. Everybody. And everybody’s poop stinks, not just yours. Your poop is really nothing special. You gotta let that poop go man. Whenever. Wherever.

Okay, what else? Girls. I know you think they have some special power that makes them all scary, but believe me, they do not. They are pretty different from you, true, and the ones you like act like they don’t like you or even know you exist. But a lot of the time they are just waiting to see what you will do. I know how you lay awake at night thinking about Melissa, imagining her coming up to you, smiling at you, being all nice and sweet, and then you guys walking around holding hands and stuff.

Trust me, that is not going to happen unless you make the first move. Yes, she grabbed your arm that time and dug her fingernails into it as hard as she could and laughed at you. But believe it or not that is actually a good sign. You definitely do not back off when something like that happens. You stay with it, keep talking to her. That goes for any girl that you like. Just go up and start talking to her. It’s no big deal. She won’t bite you. And if you can make her laugh, you are golden.

More on that in a minute, but first I’m going to be brutally honest with you about something: You are never going to be very athletic. Do not feel bad about this! It does not hurt your chances with girls as much as you think. I know Melissa and all the other girls are nuts about Ed and Bruce because they run so fast and kick ass at ball tag and stuff. But you have valuable skills that you can use to turn the ladies heads and have them lining up at your door, which will have a sign on it, “Open for business – please take a number!”.

You are a good artist. Girls love a creative guy. Being a good drawer is not as good as playing the guitar maybe, so you might want to start taking some lessons. But even if you don’t, your drawing ability is a big advantage when it comes to getting girls’ attention. 

You are funny. Girls love a guy that makes them laugh. Remember what I said about Melissa? That is true for most girls. Now, you don’t want them to think you are a total joker; in that case the best you will get is the dreaded “Let’s just be friends” thing. So don’t be too funny, just funny enough to make them comfortable. Also have a serious side, which girls just love.

You have a serious side. You are a good listener, and you will know this is true because several young ladies in your future will tell you so. You know how to make girls laugh, but also how to shut up and let them talk. This is a huge advantage.

However, for you there is a disadvantage in that approximately three years from now you will start to attract fixer-uppers. This is a person that has a ton of problems. She will love your listening ability, but for you it will be problematic. You will tend to take on her many problems and attempt to fix them by talking about them incessantly. This will be impossible, but you will keep trying until you are out of energy. When that happens, in at least one case, the pitiable young lady will dump you. By all means continue to be a good listener! But be really honest if you find yourself with a girl who is getting more out of the relationship than you are, and politely excuse yourself. She will do everything she can to try to stop you, but be strong and keep heading for the door.

Under no circumstances should you do what I have done many times: dig in and refuse to give up on an already-dead relationship.

On a related note, you will often try to attract this or that young lady by acting ultra-serious or even morose. BAD MOVE!!! At best you will only attract a fixer-upper. In most cases girls will ignore you and your sadsack behavior. This is an extremely unattractive disposition to the type of girls that will be good for you. Take it from me, I made this mistake many times before learning from it.

You have confidence. Maybe not all the time, but most of the time. Girls like that. If you show that you’re comfortable with yourself, they are more likely to be comfortable with you. During those times when you don’t have confidence, just act confident and things will turn out all right. Only thing is, be careful not to overdo it. Only dumb girls are impressed by that. Just like with being funny or being serious, a little goes a long way.

OK, that should get you started on the road to success with the ladies, but believe it or not there are other aspects of your life that you must pay attention to. In fact, I’ll just tell you right now, you are way too focused on girls. This will continue, and cause you grief down the line. So out of that fog buddy, and expend some energy on…

School. You’re not a bad student, and you’re not a great student. That’s fine for the most part. In the next few years several adults will tell you something like, “You have so much potential,” with the implication that you are not trying hard enough. Actually it’s true, you usually take the path of least resistance. Again, that’s generally not so terrible. You are going to do fine academically, and you will gain a reputation for being smarter than you actually are, which has some advantages. Having said this, you will be rewarded for any extra energy you put into school, so by all means go for it.

I have one specific piece of advice: Give math a chance. Your math teachers from here on out are all duds who don’t know how to teach math to someone like you. They are very comfortable teaching from the textbook to the kids who already get math. Unfortunately you are not one of those kids.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t learn it, or don’t need to learn it. You need to learn it if you want to increase your confidence and generally deal with life later on. I did not do this, which I regret, so I can’t tell you specifically what you need to do. But I would start by asking your teachers a lot of questions. Let them know that they need to find a way to make you understand it. Demand that they teach you. That is their job.

Money. Since dad left you have had no one to teach you about money. Actually, he would not have been able to teach you much about it, since he never had it and was not concerned about getting it. Now mom is so busy scrabbling to make ends meet, she can’t teach you much about it either.

So what should you do? As with math, I’m still poorly equipped in this area, and so I can’t offer you much guidance. But I do have one tip, and I want you to read it carefully.

There’s a company in Albuquerque, New Mexico that started five years ago called “Microsoft”. Six years from now they are going to “go public”. That means you have six years to save as much money as you can and buy some “stock” in this company when they have their “IPO”. If you don’t understand what I’m talking about, don’t worry about it. Just follow my instructions, and under no circumstances should you tell anyone about this, okay? Especially not the Time Lords. OK. That’s all I’m going to say.

Actually though, I do have some practical advice for you. Just remember that when you do get some money, it’s not necessary to spend it as fast as you can. You’re not going to lose it, and in fact you will get more in time. Hang on to it and let it grow. Then invest it in Microsoft and it will be smooth sailing from then on.

Opportunities. Remember when you were seven? You were at the pool with all your classmates and one by one you were jumping off the high dive for the first time. When it was your turn you got up there, walked out to the end of the board, looked down and froze. Everybody started encouraging you, “Come on Mark, jump. You can do it.” It was such a long way down to the water. You stood there practically forever before you turned around and climbed down in shame.

I know this is a painful memory (I’m you, remember?). This memory has bothered me my whole life, which means it’s going to bother you too. You will find yourself repeating this in similar situations where you are faced with a challenge or an opportunity and you back down or hesitate and miss your chance. These situations are going to be very bad for your confidence, and as I mentioned before confidence is important for your success with the ladies and everything else.

When you are confronted with one of those situations, be brave, take the leap. It isn’t going to kill you, and it probably won’t even hurt. Even if it does, you will get over it and be a stronger man afterwards.

I’m telling you these things because for the most part you are going to have to find your own way in life. As much as she loves you, mom is not going to be much help. Dad is not around to be a role model for you, and as I said before you are actually better off because of that. It will be some time before you meet any older people that influence you in good ways. Mom has her friend Milt of course, and he will introduce you to some cool stuff, music and art, and stupid jokes. But he is also a creep and you should avoid being alone with him.

You will continue to rely on Nathan and your friends for cues on how to think and live. This is not a bad thing, but do not follow them blindly. Listen to your heart when it tells you that what they’re doing is not what you should do. Resist their influence and do your own thing.

Okay that’s enough heavy stuff. Sorry I can’t get too specific about what’s going to happen to you or in the world. Supposedly it could upset the space-time continuum and make the universe explode or something and the Time Lords will be really pissed at me. Whatever. As long as you don’t tell anybody any of this I’m pretty sure the universe will be okay. Probably… LOL. (Future slang that means “laugh out loud” but is used like you would say “ha ha”, I guess because it’s shorter by like one letter. People in my time send messages to each other on tiny portable phones by typing with their thumbs on tiny keyboards, so the fewer keystrokes the better, even though with LOL you have to hit the caps lock key twice, so it really isn’t any better than ha ha. See, the future is pretty great, but also kind of stupid, just like your time.)

So anyway, where were we? Oh yeah, I was going to tell you some cool stuff that happens in the future.

Just between you and me (or you and you right? Wink-wink), they are finally going to make a Lord of the Rings movie! And it is THE BOMB! You will have to wait 20 years to see it I’m afraid, but it will be worth the wait.

They are also going to make a bunch more Star Wars movies – well, one more in a couple of years that’s pretty good, and then in about 20 years they will make three more that everyone is going to complain about, and then after that some more decent ones. As I write this another one is just about to come out, so basically the future is full of Star Wars.

Also, everything from the decade you are going into now, the 80s, is going to be very collectible in the future, so be sure to hang on to any pop records or CDs you acquire (CDs are a thing that’s coming soon, don’t worry about it). Well, pop music is pretty lame as you know, so just stick with stuff you like. Those Devo records will be like gold, for instance.

Also! Get mom to buy you those shoes that you are going to see on a trip to Anchorage pretty soon, the ones that look like slippers that have a black-and-white checkerboard pattern. I know being popular at school is not that important, but you will kick yourself if you don’t buy them and Tim Kimbrough ends up being the first guy at school with a pair and getting all kinds of attention from the ladies. Trust me.

Also, good job in the spelling bee! Not sure if it has happened yet so I won’t tell you exactly how you will do. If it hasn’t happened yet, study those words hard, man! (Hint: SOLILOQUY) If it has already happened, it’s not too early to get cracking on next year’s bee.

I think I have given you enough to think about and hopefully it was not too much to handle. I will check in with you again when you are 20 to see how you are doing. Until then best of luck. Enjoy your teens, they are a crazy fun time.

Love you dude,

Future Mark, a.k.a. you, a.k.a. me

PS: Don’t forget about that Hustler you stashed behind the sleeping bags in the back of the closet. You don’t want to find out what happens when mom finds it.

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