Hello, I’m Eric Longenhagen. As you read the introduction to this post, imagine me, Eric Longenhagen, sitting in an easy chair in a luxurious living room at night with a fire roaring in the background. Hear it crackle. I’m staring very intensely, almost sensually, into your eyes. I’m wearing a long, burgundy, paisley smoking jacket with my legs crossed in the most masculine way possible. A wry, mischevous smile creeps across my face. I have a pipe in my left hand. I place the pipe to my mouth for a drag and bubbles slowly spew from the bowl. I speak:
I am now 22 years old. It’s all gone by rather quickly. If you’re experiencing this memoir, you’ve almost certainly affected my life in some way or are interested enough in me or what I have to say to have clicked your way here. I thank you, and hope I’ve somehow positively altered your life experience and that you enjoy what I’ve done here.
As you may know, I’m not really one to celebrate my birthday at all, let alone in a way that is typical of someone in my generation, by getting dressed up, going out to a club or bar, getting totally shitfaced, doing body shots off of a vagrant and eventually breaking down in tears when my tiara breaks after being thrown from a mechanical bull. Alas, it is not my style. So, instead of creating some narcissistic Facebook group inviting everyone to a party I’ve planned for myself, I’ve done this.
I’m constantly worried about “Future Eric”. I want to make sure I leave his keys in a place he’ll be able to find them, keep his cell phone charged, and lock his car doors and basically make sure he only has to worry about the situation at hand. Last week, however, I thought about “Little Eric”. What would I want a younger version of me to have a heads up on as he got older? You think about it, what would YOU want a younger version of YOU, to know? I’ve decided to write an open letter to 12 year old Eric Longenhagen, currently in 6th grade and probably hiding a boner with his social studies textbook right now. I picked 12 because it was 10 years ago, and that a nice round number. I could have picked 18 or 19, because that Eric was pretty stupid too. Actually, in 5 years, I’ll probably look back and say “When I was 22, I was retarded.”, but as of right now I think I’m the smartest and most well rounded person on the planet.
This letter is honest, has inside jokes, and may touch on subjects that people may find in poor taste or too personal, especially considering the fact that I did not have the consent of those included in the letter. Deal with it. 12 year old Eric needs to know this shit, and if we ever find a way to send email back in time, he’ll be better off for having read it. So without further adieu….
Hey, little dude. How are you? Horny and acne ridden? I figured. Listen, I’m you. I’m sending you this letter from the future to better prepare you for the next decade of your life. Don’t believe me? You cried yourself to sleep after Kevin Dyson was tackled one yard short of the goal line in last year’s Super Bowl. See! It’s you, dude! Speaking of the Titans, something sucky happens to Steve McNair in 2009, but we’ll get to that later. Right now, I will systematically give you the breakdown of what to expect in the many aspects of life as you age. I’ll try to cover as much as I can but, as you know, I’ll probably forget some stuff. Here we go.
It is important for you to know what significant things occur between 2001 and 2011 so you know what to devote your time to.
- Cure for Cancer: Nope, not yet, but you never really worked on that one anyway
- Creation of Anti Matter: Yes! Just a little bit for fractions of a second in a controlled environment in which temperatures are near absolute zero in order to slow things down enough for it to be detected, but still, it totally happens. You can stop worrying about this one.
- Bigfoot Existence Proven: No, sorry. Try looking harder out the window when you drive through the woods.
- Next September something really shitty will happen. Not to you but to everyone in general. Try to be strong for your classmates that have trouble dealing with it. This isn’t one you can diffuse with humor, at least at first. The events that take place that day will alter everyone’s life, but just because they will change things doesn’t mean life will be bad. I hesitate to say exactly what happens, for fear that you will somehow find a way to stop things, I know you’d certainly try. While stopping them sounds good on the surface, this one’s bigger than you and altering history like that could cause the universe to collapse or something.
Also, there isn’t actually a kid in the balloon. It’s a hoax.
Women, Relationships and Sex
Alright Cassanova, let’s talk girls. Don’t be embarrassed, asshole, I’m you. Unless things change this is not likely to be your strong suit but that’s okay. Spending most of your life as a single guy hasn’t turned you into a sexual deviant or anything. So while I don’t have a wealth of knowledge to impart, I do have some.
- Your first kiss will come within the next year. It will take place at the Catty Park, in the ditch behind the men’s bathroom. It will be super hot. I won’t say who it is to its still a surprise!
- The girl you kiss will dump you shortly thereafter, citing a lame joke you tell as her primary reason. The joke? That one about the US spending tons of money to make a pen that will write in anti-gravity and the Russians using a pencil instead. Don’t tell it and maybe you get to second base.
- Laura Stubits will dump Andy Shankweiler and want to go out with you. Don’t do it. Andy is your best friend and you’ll feel like shit years later for doing it. This courtesy will eventually be known as “bros before hoes” and the phrase isn’t in vogue until 2008 or so. Maybe you should start saying it?
- Do NOT watch Miss Congeniality alone. If you do, don’t tell everyone about it later.
- Know ahead of time when the SI Swimsuit Issue comes out. Get home fast on those days. If you’re not the first to get it, it will be thrown out.
- Practice unhooking bras, you’re still not very good at it.
- Despite early projections, you become an “Ass Man”
- High School is relatively desolate because you don’t have enough self confidence to trust that a girl could actually like you because you don’t really like you. They do. Failure to realize this creates a casualty or two. Should be avoided, tell Jill and Devin you’re sorry, douchebag.
- Keep this one in your back pocket for a while because this is important. When you intern for the…well, don’t worry about the name of the team because I’ll have to explain it…just know it’s a sports team. As soon as you see the cute usher girl go talk to her. She’s little and might have a bow in her hair. Bring her a diet coke to get things rolling. You will eventually talk to her anyway but much later than you should have. Every second counts with this one and even if pulling the trigger earlier doesn’t change the way things end (in a fireball of sadness that sends you spiraling into a dark emotional and psychological abyss where you stop shaving for 3 weeks and stop working out for 5) it’s all worth it because this one is very special.
- If you like a girl, ask her out. The pain of rejection may seem horrific to you now, but that’s because you’ve never had any real problems. It’s really not that bad. Just do it, pussy.
- Girls will say they like guys who have a sense of humor. They are lying. They just laugh at stupid shit that good looking guys say. Your current pudginess and overall looks force you to develop something called “a personality” and then late in high school and in college you get hot. It’s awesome.
School and Education
- If you run into Mr. Abraham, check to see if his pupils dialate.
- Keep any girlfriends you might have away from Mr. Dreisbach
- Right now you’re probably frustrated that, while YOU have a well developed grasp on the social structure of a small public middle school, nobody else does and you don’t have anyone to talk about it with. Your classmates are rightfully concerned with their own lives and your teachers are too far removed from middle school to remember what it was like. This isolation continues until the second half of high school when your classmates…actually they’re still justifiably worried exclusively about themselves, but one teacher totally gets it. I won’t spoil who it is because it won’t be who you think it is.
- Don’t go to St. Joseph’s University. The people are great and its nice being near but not really in Philly, but it’s cold and grey, the traffic sucks, crime is bad, and the school’s infrastructure is so poor that even now, in your senior year, scheduling classes is a complete pain in the ass. Go to Pepperdine.
- Right now you want to be a marine biologist. That will change when you take your first biology class next year. Sharks are really cool, but not cool enough to deal with that horrific smell. That smell is the same reason you can cross any job associated with the elderly off your potential career list.
- In high school everyone will be required to take a government issued test that assesses the line of work they are most suited for. You skip school on the day it is administered to go to a Phillies game with your friends. That should tell you EXACTLY what line of work you need to be in. (It will snow that day, wear more than your zip up Phillies Hoodie, I was really cold that day)
- Keep a small notebook on you at all times. That stand up comedy pipe dream of yours isn’t likely to come true, because you’ve never been able to sit down and write jokes. Most of the funny things you think of come from reactions to everyday occurrences, so having something to put those ideas down on right away can’t hurt your chances.
- By now you’ve started playing MLB Showdown. Unsurprisingly, you get really good at it. Devote more time to the strategy cards, your failure to do so will leave you just short of a spot in nationals.
- Take an art class in high school
- Start acting sooner
- Within the next year you’ll pick up a guitar for the first time. You get pretty good but don’t work at it enough to reach your full potential.
- You never care
- The Phillies will get competitive soon, but not so soon that you should feel guilty for having a little bit of an affair with the Diamondbacks next year.
- Tiger Woods is not such a great dude
- Remember the name Tom Brady
- You don’t realize now, but Chad Solomon’s dad’s request for you to find out who will eventually replace Scott Rolen at 3rd base leads you to learn about a player named Chase Utley. You relay that info to Mr. Solomon and he nicknames you “GM”. You take it very seriously.
- There’s a college basketball player named Stromile Swift. He sucks. Don’t fall for it.
- Steve McNair is murdered.
- Durant, not Oden
- Horford, not Oden
- Conley, not Oden
- Sam Bowie, not Oden
- Michael Vick is not such a great dude
- We later find out OJ Simpson actually didn’t do it. Just kidding he’s a fucking murderer.
- John Kasay will kick the ensuing kickoff out of bounds. It will suck.
- You and Shankweiler will go to see M Night Shayamalan’s “The Village”, but it will be sold out. You’ll see “Anchorman” instead. Happy accident.
- The Series Finale of The Sopranos will take place during your high school baccalaureate. In order to get out of there sooner so you don’t miss it, you will not perform. This is a mistake.
- You watch the pilot episode of Chappelle’s Show and never look at comedy the same again. Don’t get too attached.
- Best Director of the next 10 years: Christopher Nolan
- Be ready for the first 10 minutes of “Up”
- Don’t let Steve Carrell’s season 1 interpretation of Michael Scott discourage you from watching The Office. He gets much less annoying in season 2.
- The Wire, the greatest TV series of all time, starts in 2002. Find a way to watch it as it airs, instead of in gluttenous DVD sessions later.
- Wear your retainer
- Take a second to run your hand across your chest. Feel how smooth and hairless it is? You’ve got two years of that left so enjoy it.
While not comprehensive, this list is a pretty good heads up on lots of things. I completely left out music because you do a pretty good job sorting all that stuff out. I guess whether or not you heed my advice will be reflected upon changes I experience in my current state. Have a happy birthday, little guy.