Simone Bouffard, a senior at Carondelet High School in Concord, Calif., was wise beyond her years.
I saved a clipping she wrote a while back entitled “Top 10 Things I Should Have Known Yesterday.” Nothing that will save the world. But her words made me smile.
Take No. 2, for instance: The sharp end of a knife is not the end to grab it by. Bread knives are more dangerous than they appear.
I’m betting Simone had an unpleasant experience with the business end of a bread knife when she was little. “Young lady, put that bread knife down right now or you’re going to cut yourself!” Ouch.
No. 5: Check the bill before handing it to the cashier. A strawberry soda is not worth $10.
Been there, Simone. That’s one reason guys get married. To have someone like you to check the bills so we aren’t taken to the cleaners every time we go to the grocery store or use a coupon to order the quesadilla special.
No. 3: Do your homework even if the teacher says he will not collect it. You might actually learn something — and the pop quiz the next day will be significantly easier.
C’mon, Simone. Who does that?
There were a few goofy ones, but No. 6 went for the heart:
The person 3,000 miles away is often the one closest to you. It gets frustrating, however, when you have the urge to hug that person.
Pretty profound for a high school senior, who has lived all of 17 or 18 years. I have almost four times as many yesterdays as Simone. Surely, I must have learned something in all my livelong days. Here are my own Top 10 Things I Should Have Known Yesterday:
1. If you don’t write down Mom’s favorite recipes, they’re gone forever. Chicken and stuffing. Tender roasts. Rhubarb custard pie. Creamy rice with cinnamon. Pardon me while I salivate. If only I knew how she worked her magic.
2. Never use regular dish soap in the dishwasher. Within minutes, your kitchen will have more suds than an “I Love Lucy” episode.
3. The cowlick you had when you were 8 years old will never go away. Lord knows, I’ve tried everything. However, at my age, I’d rather have the darned cowlick right in front at my hairline than the alternative.
4. If you don’t send a Christmas card, you may lose track of a good buddy. Even if he was your college roommate for two years and the best man at your wedding. It happens.
5. When you save for a rainy day, it pours. How do all the appliances that have run like clockwork for so many years, all decide to stop working within weeks of your 20th anniversary? Plan on it.
6. One more doughnut really will hurt. And one more little slice of pie. One more Oreo dunked in milk. One more piece of chocolate from that big box you got for Christmas. That’s about 5,385,923 one-mores over 64 years. And a lot more air in the ol’ spare tire.
7. (Corollary to No. 5): Once you get out of shape, it’s darn near impossible to get back in. I have several boxes in the attic filled with size 34 pants just waiting for this to happen. Hey, you never know.
8. Long underwear is funny — until it’s 10 below zero. Mom always made sure the Kuhl kids had longjohns that fit. Girls, too. Some of them even had “trap doors” in the back. Other kids were amazed how we could stay out sledding so long.
9. Don’t clip your Bob Gibson rookie card onto the spokes of your bike to make it sound like a motorcycle. Jose Canseco would have been a better choice.
10. Punchlines stick with you. Jokes don’t. I remember laughing my socks off when someone said, “Or do you w-w-want m-m- me to r-r-read it to you?” “Because the salesman didn’t have a paddle” and “I don’t know who he is but his chauffeur is the pope.” But, for the life of me, I just can’t remember the setups.
10a. To the new guy in the office, there are no “old” jokes.
11. It wouldn’t be such a gray day if you wash your windows.
12. Buy a house with a basement. Your kids will bring a lot more friends over during their growing-up years. And it’ll make fixing plumbing problems a whole lot easier.
13. Even when you’re 30 years out of school, pop quizzes never end.” Dad, who ran against George Bush for president in 1988?” (Answer: Michael Dukakis — I had to look it up) “Do you have any idea what the speed limit is on this road, Mr. Kuhl?” (Answer: “Why no, officer.”) “If Nathan’s plane leaves Seattle at 7 a.m. and stops once in Denver with an hour layover, will he be home in time for Christmas dinner?” (Answer: Huh? Mr. Harrigan was right about me needing algebra someday.)
14. The waitress you just left a skimpy tip is somebody’s kid. It’s not her fault your steak was too well done.
15. Top 10 lists should end at No. 10. Hey, it’s my list. Thanks, Simone, it was fun to come up with my own list. But I thought your No. 10 was the best of all: Laugh about the things you did not know sooner. Then, share your new intelligence with someone else.