Friday, September 2, 2016

Advice from a life coach: You are not alone

Talking to yourself is not the worst thing you can do, but you probably want to keep it down to a minimum. In particular, do not talk to yourself when other people are around, especially on elevators. For that matter, do not talk to yourself on empty elevators, either, or worse, scratch yourself in a questionable part of your person. The guys down at the front desk are listening, watching and recording. An otherwise innocent readjustment of this or that can go viral on Facebook before you make it out of the building.

Speaking of elevators, they do occasionally get stuck, and you need to be prepared for this. Never enter an elevator on a full bladder, as most elevators do not provide even minimal sanitary facilities. If you do get stuck in an elevator, and there are others stuck there with you, and the ghostly voice from the maintenance man tells you they're working on it and they'll get you out of there within the next hour, it is strongly recommended that you launch a joke telling contest. It passes the time amiably, and is decidedly better than collapsing in a tearful heap and taking up more floor space than is your share, or trying to claw your way over the rest of the passengers to climb out the top. Then again, if you must claw your way over the rest of the passengers to climb out, make sure that it is the top. There is little point to climbing out under the elevator, for a variety of reasons we should not have to explain here at any great length.

Better yet, take the stairs. 


Friday, August 26, 2016

Advice from a life coach: Family law

If your wife's family is out to get you, and you decide you need a family lawyer to represent your interests, it is probably best if you take a shower and perhaps lay off the moonshine that morning before approaching some random stranger on the street and asking them to recommend an attorney.

On the other side of this equation, it is always a good idea to keep handy the address of the nearest family lawyer, just in case some disreputable looking individual sidles up to you as you're crossing the street and asks you for one. If you are able to quickly provide an address—down two blocks on your right, you can't miss it—you will be able to avoid going into any detail on why or how the individual's wife's family is out to get him, although you can probably come up with a few good reasons yourself, and you are already thinking that you will be siding with them if this ever goes to court and you are called as a witness.

Keep in mind that Coachean Life Coaching handles real-life situations only. Maybe I just look like someone who happens to know the nearest family lawyer, but if I look like that, so do you, and you'd better be prepared. The nearest family lawyer I am aware of is, indeed, down two blocks on the right. They claim to speak Spanish, and they post their prices in the window for divorces, separations and wills, among other various familial legal needs.

And, by the way, they charge two dollars for notarization. And they look very disappointed when you tell them that's all you want. "You're sure you don't want to get divorced?" they ask as they take your two dollars. Divorces cost $500. I felt good saving both $498 and my marriage at the same time. I assume that they handled my new friend on the street quite adequately, as I haven't seen him since. Then again, I have taken to not walking in that particular neighborhood anymore. You can never be too cautious.


Friday, August 12, 2016

Advice from a life coach: More linguistic issues

Over the summer I have collected a few items that need not be discussed at great length, but are worth mentioning, and I'm raring to go with them.

Raring to go? Raring? This is where dictionaries fail you. Raring comes from rearing, as in horses rising on their hind legs in eagerness, thus turning the word raring into a synonym for eager. Really? Has anyone ever used raring in any way other than as a prelude to "to go"? No one says raring beaver, do they? Your basic dictionaries would have you believe otherwise, the lying crooked Hillaries that they are. Which reminds me that beavering is an anagram for bereaving, and if you look up anagram on Google it asks you if you meant nag a ram. Cute. You know, Google, if I wanted a joke, I would have asked for it. Jeesh.

The word galoot is of disputed if not totally lost origin, but we all know what it means. And we usually attach the word big in front of it, although it would seem to be unnecessary. There is not much difference between being a galoot and being a big galoot, but on the other hand, no one ever uses the expression little galoot. Except maybe in preschool teachers' lounges: "That Johnny Jones is a real little galoot." I can't say, because I seldom frequent preschool teachers' lounges. In fact, you might say I infrequent preschool teachers' lounges, except, of course, that some words don't have opposites, even when those opposites exist. Like everyone's basic inept and ept. James Thurber liked these sort of words. You should be reading Thurber now instead of me, but you makes your cherces and there you be. 

A friend of mine recently quoted Cecil Adams, creator of The Straight Dope (seek it out), thus: "Sir, if ignorance were corn flakes, you would be General Mills." You might want to remember that one; it will probably come in handy. I'll add one of my own: so-and-so is like a lip syncher at a karaoke bar. It is always a good idea to have a few insults handy that take the insultee a minute or two to figure out, giving you enough time to make a run for it before suffering any physical damage. Call somebody a big galoot, and you will be eating a galootian knuckle sandwich a second later. Quote Cecil Adams, and by the time they figure it out, you'll be halfway to San Bernardino. 

Friday, August 5, 2016

Advice from a life coach: Acknowledging the little people

Publically acknowledging the little people who helped you along the way—especially in writing—is not a good idea. Yes, we know you couldn’t have done it alone, but on the other hand, plenty of other people have done it too and it’s not all that big a deal. Unless you’ve just been elected Pope or somehow convinced Kim Jong-un to renounce his North Korean citizenship and move to Peoria, or something equally remarkable, you don’t have to remark on it. You did it. Fine. That’s enough for all of us.

But thanking the little people? That’s where the real trouble starts. First of all, they probably do not see themselves as the little people, as bit players in the more important narrative that is you, so their first reaction to your acknowledgment will be genuine surprise. Then, for a moment, they’ll appreciate the shout-out until they realize that not only was it an act of self-aggrandizement, but also an act of them-degrandizement. (I know, degrandizement probably really isn’t a word, much less them-degrandizement, but it ought to be.) They probably always thought up till now that you were a little full of yourself but they were willing to put up with you for their own ends, i.e., for your role in the playing out of their narratives. But now that they realize that their narratives mean nothing to you, they will cast you off like baby boomers cleaning the leisure suits out of their storage closet (unless they can actually still squeeze into them, in which case they will hold onto them on the odd chance that they will come back into style someday because, well, doesn’t everything.)

If you really want to do something to thank the little people, leave them alone. They’ll be all the happier for it, and, more importantly, you won’t have to sink to their level and pretend you care about them. It’s a win-win for everyone.



Friday, June 24, 2016

A Cryptic Note

The Coachean Life Coach takes voluminous notes on the road, marking down every thought that might be relevant to making your life better. The entry presently at the top of his list, however, is baffling: "Regular vs excessive farting." That is it, in its entirety.

What exactly could that mean? What brought on this apparently important perception, so important that I felt compelled to write it down? Was there farting occuring at the time the note was taken? Was it regular farting, or farting of the excessive persuasion? What is regular farting, for that matter? Or excessive farting? And most importantly, who was the farter?

We will, apparently, never know. This is the down side to taking voluminous notes on the spur of the moment. If the note is overly cryptic, you will be left with nothing but a vague memory that something about something—in this case something about the passing of gas—was so important at the time that you felt the need to comment on it, but you were so sure at the time that its importance had made a lasting impression that you didn't feel the need to elaborate, thus leaving nothing behind but an enigmatic squib, the meaning of which you will never unravel.

In other words, if you're going to take notes, take good notes. Taking bad notes is like farting. Regularly or excessively. You will find momentary relief at best, but total, eternal bafflement at worst. (Okay, maybe that analogy doesn't really work, but if you start an essay with farting, you must end it with farting. Which in itself is a lesson for another day.)



Friday, June 17, 2016

Shopping advice

First of all, shopping is neither a hobby nor a vocation. It is a chore, and like all chores, it must be done, and it's not the worst idea to get all Mary Poppins over it and make the best of it. Nevertheless, a chore is something you don't want to be doing, which is taking away time from doing something you do want to be doing. Wanting to do chores, therefore, is a suspect behavior, aside from wanting to get them over with quickly so that you can do something else. Therefore, if you want to shop, there is something wrong with you.

There are exceptions to this. Shopping for any tech items, for instance, however little you may actually need them, is always entertaining, and should be considered an end in itself. In fact, not buying a piece of tech that you are particularly lusting over can be way more satisfying than buying it and wondering a week later what the hell was so good about it that you dropped eight hundred bucks without batting an eye. So we recommend that, if you go shopping for tech, you keep your hands in your pockets. Enjoy the experience, but do not make a commitment. This is the same advice we would give to sixteen-year-olds enjoying their first romance, for roughly the same reasons, if we were in the habit of advising sixteen-year-olds on their love lifes, which, I assure you, is a mug's game that the Coachean Life Coach will be steadily avoiding in this column. 

On the other hand, if you do find yourself in a store or market or whatever, through no fault of your own, we do advise that if you see something you want that is the slightest bit unusual, buy it. An iPhone will be around forever, and will in fact be upgraded a month after you buy yours, so you should think for a while about whether you really need yet another one. And just about every book ever published is available on Amazon (plus the longer you wait, the cheaper it might get), so think long and hard before plopping down a couple of Hamiltons because some clerk at Barnes and Noble is recommending the latest E. L. James book. But when you're talking about something unique, something you've never seen anywhere else, something that you had no idea that you wanted but the minute you see it you know you have to have it, buy it. If you don't, it won't be there next time you're looking. In fact, that should be your guiding principle: will you ever have a chance to buy this thing again? For instance, an usher's uniform from the 1939 New York World's Fair in a size that would fit maybe a ten-year-old, going for under a hundred bucks at a tag sale, will be gone in a second. It will never be seen again, no matter how thoroughly you search the corners of every collectibles shop and tag sale in America. Buy it the second you see it, Trust us on this. (Although if I had bought it, I have no idea what I would have done with it.)



Friday, June 10, 2016

Advice from a Life Coach: The Ballad of Me and I

It is not too late to prevent the murder of the subject pronoun at the hands of the object pronoun. To do this, we must look at the accomplice: the seemingly innocent word "and."

How many times have we struck the word "and" from our conversations? (And I apologize for putting it in quotation marks, since the phrase "the word" already provides a determination that we are talking about "and" as a word and not using it as a conjunction. I'm just trying to be as clear as possible. [But I do not apologize for using "and," or for that matter "but," to start a sentence. The Coachean Life Coach is not quite that unbending.]) How many times have we said "Pardon my French" when we have let the word "and" slip from our lips? How many movies have been rated R for using it even once over the space of two hours? Yes, little "and" is the perennial dewy-eyed ingenue, but its powers to kill language rank with "like" (I mean, she was like all la-la-la and I was all like girl you gotta—you get the picture) or the classic "you know." You know?

By the way, regarding that expression "Pardon my French," you have to love any throwaway line that permits you to be vulgar and to blame it on the French both at the same time. Usually those are separate activities.

Anyhow, here's the meat of the problem. Most English-speaking people correctly use "I" as an object pronoun, when I stands alone. (All right, when "I" stands alone, since I know that last sentence was physically painful despite its correctness.) However, every vestige of education aimed at those English speakers immediately evaporates when they are not alone. "Joe and me went to the burlesque show." "Him and me were Siamese twins before the operation." Or even worse, "Me and him lived on grubs for the first eleven years on the island." Typing these sentences hurt, but not as much as listening to them. These same people would not say, "He gave it to I," or, for that matter, "Him gave it to I," but at the same time, they will say, "Our naked-yoga instructor was not happy that the cow face pose was not in the repertoire of Morty and I."

In all of these examples, note the lurking of the insidious little "and."

It has been suggested that this language failure is incurable, and that may be so. Nevertheless, if you suffer every time you hear it, or worse, occasionally commit the sin yourself, there is perhaps one cure: Bizarro.

Bizarro is probably the one* universally recognized character in literature (so to speak) who always objectifies his subject pronouns. So the cure to this, offered here, is that, whenever you do it yourself, picture yourself as Bizarro You. Say to yourself, "Me talk funny." And if someone uses this misconstruction within your hearing, and you are in a position to do so, refer to them similarly. "Oh, you're Bizarro Trump. You talk funny." (Okay, the idea of Bizarro Trump is either too bizarre or too Trumpish to make a good example, but we'll have to live with it.) The point is, without the "and, "no one would do this, and short of going through everything I've written here to explain it, simply pointing out that you or the perpetrator is talking like Bizarro will sum it up quickly and efficiently.

Ya get me? I'm happy to hear it. Or: Ya get I? Me happy to hear it. 

Mostly, by the way, it is teenagers who talk like this. Some might suggest that they will grow out of it, but that may be wishful thinking. Them is, like, the future. 

* Yeah, I know. You're thinking David Sedaris and/or Tonto also have used this construction, and maybe others. The Coachean Life Coach never claimed to be perfect, just almost perfect. Which is better than you, which is why you're reading this in the first place, and I'm not reading your life-coaching blog. Jeesh!