There are rules of life everyone must learn — the easy way or the hard way. Looking back, I’ve learned most of them the hard way. I’m not proud of that fact, but a fact it still remains. Some of the most important rules of life I learned while residing at 110 Flamingo Street.
First rule: Don’t be last in line for anything, especially if you’re in trouble. All the good excuses will run out before it’s your turn to lie. Case in point: an only child can do just about whatever they want because they have a perfect built-in excuse. If caught, they simply say, “Hey, I’m just a kid.” A perfect excuse, yes, but since I had three brothers and one sister, Dad was tired of hearing it when he reached the end of the line and me.
By the time Dad got to me, all the good excuses were gone. The only thing I had was a blank look and the proverbial, “I don’t know.” Trust me, the “I don’t know” thing doesn’t work well when priceless German crystal has been broken because of an indoor game of “Dodge-the-Frozen-Water-Balloon.”
I also learned that being the last in line is not a good place when it came to birthday cake, or getting to the bathroom after all-you-can-eat taco night.
Rule number two: The “Hey, I’m just a kid” excuse doesn’t work if you’re not a kid. This is really an important point for you youngsters out there. It doesn’t work with girlfriends, wives, and certainly not that nice police officer at 3 a.m., especially when you are being asked how fast you were going.
That’s not a life rule; it’s a blue rule.
Rule number three: Break one of life’s little rules and there are consequences. Growing up at 110 Flamingo Street, there were consequences for not being able to come up with a good enough excuse. And usually the consequences came in the form of a thick black belt expertly wheeled by Dad. Let’s just say, with us five kids, he had a lot of opportunity to practice his belt-wheeling technique. And by the end of the line, he was really warmed up.
Rule number four: Never forget an anniversary or birthday. Every time Dad did, he got into big trouble. The “I didn’t know,” “I’m sorry,” or any other excuse won’t work if you forget your loved one on that special day. Growing up, some of the biggest fights I can remember were when Dad forgot Mom’s birthday or wedding anniversary.
Lastly, Rule number five and perhaps the most important rule of all: Always tell the truth, especially if you’re a terrible liar like me. My parents somehow always knew when I lied. They said it was written on my face. Every time I got caught, I’d looked in the mirror and not once did I see any writing.
Funny how things change with time. When The Boy was young, every time he lied, I could see it written all over his face. It must be a parent thing.
“Lying only makes things worse,” my parents said. Some of the biggest whoopings were not because of what I did; it was because I had lied about what I had done.
This rule is the same for the workplace, except when you lie at work, you don’t get a whooping, you just get fired. The whooping comes when you go home and have to tell your better half.
[Rick Ryckeley, who lives in Senoia, has been a firefighter for more than two decades and a columnist for The Citizen since 2001. His email is email@example.com.]