Sage Advice


I can’t tell you whether my heart is on my left or right side. And I have a breathtakingly vast ignorance about a wide variety of subjects: compound interest, compound fractures, car engines, childhood development; the definition of commonwealth, where Manitoba is.

But pushing the half-century mark, nearing 50, my visible intellectual naiveté is now receding behind a gray covering. And what I don’t know, haven’t learned, and never bothered to educate myself on, is- to the stranger and to the friend- immaterial. Because I now dispense sage advice on matters financial, medical and personal. And others believe that those conjurations of my imagination are fact based. My new age is authoritative.

A young guy is doing bench presses the other day at my gym. His bar is askew on the rack, angling to fall. I run up behind him and make sure he doesn’t drop it. He looks up and asks me how far he should bring it down, and how much he should lift. He doesn’t know that I don’t know but I tell him what I know and I know he is quite grateful.

I’m now a certified trainer…

My mom asks me how what she should put on her foot to treat a nasty foot infection. I don’t know, but I suggest an anti-fungal spray and stress that it would be easier for her to apply it because she won’t need to bend down.

I’m a podiatrist….

Like Hugh Beaumont on Leave it to Beaver or Fred MacMurray on My Three Sons, I can put on a cardigan sweater, settle into a leather armchair, and spout advice which will be swallowed whole by younger listeners. My confusion, panic, lack of direction, these old self-describing adjectives have faded. I’m now certain, calm and self-assured.

I’m sir in the line at Chipotle, choosing my black and pinto beans and guacamole for $1.60 extra.

I’m sir at Trader Joes, sir at Rite-Aid, sir at LA Fitness; sir at Jons, Vons, Ralphs, Peets and Pier One.

And now when I see all those experts on TV, those men and women in Washington and Wall Street, on the throne and in high office, I know something that I never knew before…

Nobody basically knows much of anything.

We only think they do.

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