I had a hilarious conversation with my brother, Tyler, the other day about glossing over details. He’s moving into a new place and was relaying to me the lease process. There’s always those nitty gritty details – who cuts the grass, who pays for sewage, where should I dispose of my beard husks. Once it’s all wrapped up, the question posed to Tyler “Do you have any questions?” is then met with a blank look and something like “Uhh, nope, looks good to me!” Now, bear in mind, Tyler HATES to read so there is no way in HELL he gave this paperwork even a cursory look.
I suddenly realized I do the exact same thing, which I shared with Tyler. I thought perhaps it was some sort of genetic defect but he corrected me. We are genetically defective but he traced the birth of this trait back to our childhood video gaming days. Our parents forbade TV of any sort, video games included, during the week (I may have that wrong but it sounds right). So playing video games as a child is what stuffing my face with a double cheeseburger and chocolate porter is today as a large child – HEAVEN.
Whenever we got a new video game, there were of course instructions on how to play. Tyler and I would hold them up in the air, look at each other, shrug our shoulders and FLING them across the room. “Just press all the buttons!” was our mantra. This method of throwing the instructions away and winging it has mysteriously followed us throughout life. For example:
When spending a summer in Hermosa Beach, CA, Tyler and I signed a 1 year lease even though we were only going to be there for 3 months. Did we read the fine print. Nope. Did the dump we lived in being the size of my left foot matter? Nope. Did it all work out? YES. We spent the summer there in a haze of Pabst and then subletted the joint to a local weirdo we’d crossed paths with.
When I went to Budapest to study abroad in college, I arrived in Hungary with no paperwork to guide me. And guess what. Neither did my partner in Moron Affairs, Kevin Phinney. We had just flown to the Eastern Bloc, disembarked like a couple of boobs and were utterly clueless as to how to proceed. Did we speak the language. Not even close. Did we have cell phones back then. Uh uh. Did we somehow make it our destination, albeit with a bar stop? Oh yeah!
One day, I suddenly had a wonderful daughter. While her car seat came with instructions written by the CEO of NASA, she in fact, did not. To make matters worse, my wife, Sarah, and I were lulled into a sense of “this is pretty easy” during our 3 days in the hospital after her birth. The nurses were so NICE. They come in and check on you. If you’re overwhelmed, they’ll just HANDLE it. Then it’s time to leave. And you have to strap in your suddenly VERY dependent infant into her space shuttle captain’s chair and GO HOME. Oh. Sh*t. How to manual? Yeah right. Clues on what to do? Few to none. Did we make it? You know it! We even had 2 more 18 months later!! If that doesn’t prove you don’t need instructions on life, what does?
Where does this innate feeling of knowing it’s all going to work out come from? It must have come from our parents. I’d say they imbued us with the kind of confidence required to handle situations such as these. More than likely, they hoped it would serve us in important life decision ways – like having kids of our own. I doubt they connected the dots of this madness when we hopped in the old Suburban and drove 3,000 miles with 4 surfboards on the roof and NO plan. But hey, it worked just the same! I think the parentals get a point on their scoreboard for this one – maybe two.