Readers' Submissions

The Young And The Restless





So yesterday I got into one of these e-arguments I seem to get into any time I review a terrible book on Amazon. I will forgive corrupt politicians, avaricious women and bad service in restaurants; I will not, ever, forgive somebody who can’t write but puts their name on the cover of a book.

Here’s my review of this particular awful book:

“Honestly, the Thai government should put this question on the visa application: ‘Are you now, or will you in the future, compile your illiterate e-mails to your buddies back home into some sorry excuse for a book?’ And if the answer is ‘yes,’ they should blacklist the poor schmuck forever.”

That review is pretty generous, actually, considering how bad the book is. I think I was probably in a good mood when I wrote it. So six months later the author contacts me and apparently I’ve hurt his feelings. He called me an asshole, or maybe the ten-year-old who composes this guy’s correspondence did. Somebody typing with his thumbs, anyway, judging from the spelling. He called me a couple of other names, and threatened to do something to my “reputation” on line. I didn’t really understand the threat, but I was flattered that somebody thought I have a reputation on line.

But here’s the thing: in a message of only one-hundred-fifty words, he calls me “old” six times. I suppose he’s googled a photo of me on line and seen my white hair. My hair turned white when I was twenty-five, but whatever.

I’m fifty-six now, and I suppose in places without first-world health care that could be considered old. But old as I am I can still remember being a jejune youngster like this guy, all googly over the first sex of his life and giddy with the exultation of seeing his name on a blog, like that’s real publishing. I remember those days, but I don’t remember ever trying to insult an older man by pointing out his age. I suppose the heady perfume of youth is even more intoxicating for a guy learning to shave and wear long pants in a place like Thailand. I mean, his Mom doesn’t know what he’s doing, right?

Cuz that would be, like, bad, if Mom found out.

So I don’t get the “you’re older than me, nyaah nyaaah nyaaaah” stuff. Yeah, I’m older than you. Do you know what that means? Of course not, you’re just a kid. Here, sit down next to me, drink your milk and I’ll tell you what it means.

I’m older than you. That means I know more than you. It’s that simple.

I’ve had more jobs than you’ve had. Hell, I’ve had four separate careers, and I’ve learned things in every one. I’ve had more shitty bosses than you’ve had, and more fantastic colleagues. I’ve learned from them, too.

I’ve driven faster cars than you, seen more cities, and been in more fights. I’ve had more gourmet meals than you’ve had; I’ve drunk more expensive wine. I’ve eaten many times with royalty and many times with peasants. I’ve had dreams and watched them die; I’ve received unexpected and unearned blessings that exceeded my dreams. I learned from it all.

I’ve raised two kids. I was learning all the way.

Oh, and I’ve fxxxed more women than you have. Way, way, waaaaaaaay more women than you, and I’ve learned something from every one of them. And I mean “women,” not “hookers.” I’ve certainly fxxxed more hookers than you, but only a pathetic loser would include hookers on his list of women he’s fxxxed.

I’ve lived longer than you, done more than you, know more than you, and guess what, Kid? I’m happier than you. I’m like those guys in the Viagra commercial. Still able to do anything I want, and I do it all better than you do. I’m on top of my game, Kid.

You know all those nagging insecurities that won’t let you sleep at night? I don’t have ‘em any more. You know how you’re always trying to impress people, because you’re worried about what they think of you? I haven’t worried about anybody’s opinion in ten years.

You know how little things piss you off? Like somebody writes a review of your terrible book and you get all huffy. You send angry e-mails to the reviewer, but you’re still careful to hide your real name because to you the internet is a big, scary place full of stranger danger. And Mom’s not there in Chiang Mai to hold your hand.

Well, little things don’t piss me off any more. I’ve been getting reviews, both good and bad, for thirty years. Once somebody didn’t like what I wrote and so they threw a dead dog on my lawn. I’ve received lots of hate mail but it was the fawning, adoring mail from strangers that worried me most. But I know what I can do and what I can’t do as a writer. I’m never going to stop writing and never going to stop getting better at it. And I have never been afraid to sign my real name to anything I’ve written.

So I don’t let a reader’s comment on Amazon get to me, you know what I mean? No, you don’t. You’re just a kid.

The old men who spend their days on bar stools in Thailand are pathetic, but they don’t give a fxxk if anybody thinks so. But a young man who spends his days on a bar stool in Thailand is the most pathetic thing in the world, because he could be out in the world making a difference. He could be in the thick of things, making important decisions and learning from his mistakes, meeting the love of his life and becoming a father, taking risks, seducing women, finding out who he is. Youth is the time for making your mark on the world and making your fortune.

But instead this young man is throwing all that away, hiding from life in Thailand and paying Noi to suck his dick, because it makes him feel all grown up for about five minutes.

So here’s what I would say to that poor, sad, young man:

I’m sorry I hurt your feelings, Son. I know life’s difficult when you’re young and clueless. You’ve got a hard road in front of you, Kid, and unless you start to learn things it probably won’t end well. But here’s a tip: If you want to say something nasty to an old man, don’t call him old. He won’t recognize the insult. Say he’s got skinny legs, he’s probably pretty insecure about that.

But if you’re smart, you’ll buy him a beer and listen to what he says.




Stickman's thoughts:

Isn't it amazing the way some people, particularly younger people, it seems, will explode if you say something online they don't agree with. It needn't even be about them or their work, simply disagree with them. And if they seek validation from you and don't get it, oh, all the greater their explosion! At times it seems some take the cyber world more seriously than the real world and if you say something that simply goes against their way of thinking, they can go in to full attack mode. It's very, very sad and worst of all, there are a lot of these types in Thailand.