Words to Live By, by Alex Turnage

Listen up, pip squeak. I know that you like authority the same way you like etiquette classes, but I’ve got some words to live by. And you’re gonna sit there and listen.

A referee during your little league soccer game might give you a red card for no reason. He’ll approach you and say “If I see ‘that’ again, I’m taking you off the field. Understand?” Whatever you do, don’t spit on him. It will bring you more pleasure than scoring 100 goals, but you will only prove his point. Lock your eyes with his and show him the fire the burns within.

The police are not to be trifled with, respect them despite their flaws. Your pride and life are not equivocal, so when they beam light in your eyes and ask where your from respond with “yes sir” “no sir”. No more, no less.

Other school will make black jokes, and that’s not always bad. Laugh if it was funny, retort if you have one ready, but never, and I mean never let the ones that went to far slide. Get physical if need be. The bruises left sting much less than the mark of silence.

If offered a blunt at a trap house by a lanky whiteboy, don’t take it. It’s either too weak to feel anything and you’ll be bored all night or laced and leave you consulting with Elmo and Big Bird for financial advice. Not worth messin’ with.

When your best friend invited you to go drinking with him and some new friends, don’t go. If you go anyway, a chump you just met might call you a pussy for not chugging a bottle of Jack Daniels. I urge you let the crude insult run off like water. Spending the early dawn walking back home in your underwear isn’t a victory lap worth taking.

Rejection is never fun and it leaves you feeling hollow, but that’s not an excuse to give up. From trial and error you will learn more self control than a monk in a Buddhist temple. After the 17th try, it gets easier, ya just gotta get there.

Don’t be jealous when the other boys brag about their sexual experiences. It is fun you’re not having but when you look back, you’ll realize a bj at 13 is more embarrassing than rewarding. Be patient and let Jill and porn be your guides.

When your parents tease your ass off for liking white girls, don’t take it personally. They tease you because they love you, not because they hate who you are. Say it’s their fault for putting you through private schools.

But if you can only take away one thing I have to say, don’t ever, not even for a second, regret telling your mother you planned to die. Her horror, the sleepless nights, permanent scars and dissolved ego pale in comparison to the trauma caused had she seen pyre in your eyes smolder.