Address to an Infant in a Stranger’s Baby Carriage

(My latest piece to be submitted to, and rejected by, McSweeney’s. Live long, and keep writing.)

Our connection seems faint, an imperceptible nod from a passerby at some un-appointed hour. Does it not? What is this, do I know you?

Yet, here we are breathing the same air. You’re a lot like me, I bet. Stubborn and given to brash episodes of furious ingratitude, consumed by a facile self-obsession, a rancorous preoccupation with feeding and napping and all of it punctuated with a factory-like production of pant soiling emergencies. Don’t I know it.

I urge you, none the less, once you find your footing, to press against the grain. Don’t go with the flow. In this world? No. Be as disagreeable as a bureaucrat and don’t believe one single thing you are told. Be a liar in self defense and tell the truth when they least want to hear it. Humanity all may indeed be your brothers and sisters, but they are not your friends. You may encounter one or two of that cryptozoic beast in this life. Maybe none at all. Insanity runs in mobs. Read your Nietzsche. Be kind. Breathe from the diaphragm through the nostrils, and keep your mouth shut. For the love of God, shave.

Learn that fraternity is for the living and consider your own inevitable death when you depart, without baggage, this incomprehensible frame and enter the void, utterly alone. Don’t be too modest. A good brag is like a lion’s roar. But don’t be a bore. Don’t steal. If you steal, go big and go long. Nothing is more pathetic than a petty thief. Mind who’s company you keep, but don’t be standoffish. If you lose it all, be the talk of skid row, be the dandy who can’t be kept down. Then escape all these hangers-on, jettison the dead weight, travel to India to find yourself, or California to lose yourself, or to the DMV to humble yourself, and like a proper itinerant seeker of truth, grow and open, fulfill your humanity, forge ahead into the chaos and be shaken to wisdom, and finally, put the world right!

But first, for heaven’s sake grow up. The world has a good thirteen years before you reach the zenith of learning and hence, know literally everything, and you’ll be kicked around quite a bit in the interim, you ghastly little urchin. Then, in time, comes that painful transformation through puberty and into adulthood. Folly! You think you’re childish now? Grown men will tutor you in that art. You will consume, unfettered, at an unimaginable buffet of delights. The acquisitions, the toys and trophies, estates, servants, sycophants. Vanquishing powerful enemies and redrawing the maps of their shunted ambitions to the amusement of your own heirs. Forget keeping up with the Joneses. You will annihilate the Joneses of this world and take their property, their names, their history, their culture. Your rightful place: ascended master of the rarefied halls of Church and State, reveling in an insatiable appetite for more, always more! Godspeed!

Well, if you’re typical, is what I mean. Most guys, they’re not very nice if you get my drift. Doleful idiots hitching their sleds to the limousines of power. When these demigods fall, they fall hard. But, maybe you’re something special, eh? You’re no sucker, I can tell. So, get on it man, you’re barely at the beginning of your rope, and you just lay there like some sociopath on death row with nothing to lose. Your terrible twos loom in a scant eighteen months and then all this smiling and giggling will simply not do.

So good luck to you, I’ve got to be going. Count this moment with the gems of your days, this windfall, this kindness from a stranger. What is this, candy? You saccharin little hedonist! I’ll just be taking that then. Good grief. You’ll wind up a tubby fat baboon, just when the cause of goodness needs tigers. Have you not heard a word I’ve said?