December 19, 1912 - April 15, 2007
Decades of Learning Lessons Without Ever Knowing Class Was in Session
by Brian Arrowsmith, April 2007
I've never been one for school. I actually really enjoyed school, just not the sitting still and learning part. Mark Twain once said that we should never let our schooling get in the way of our education. I think this simply means that the best things we learn are never through a textbook. This past weekend my grandfather passed away. I've never read a scholarly paper on the subject or researched it myself, but I'm pretty certain grandfathers exist for two purposes: one, to adore their granddaughters more than any person in the world ever has or will and two, to give their grandsons someone to idolize, pal around with, and learn from. Some random lessons and advice my grandfather has said to me over the years:
"Listening to my nonsense on flirting with and loving women will only take you so far. In order to learn all of it you're just going to need to go ahead and fall in love with one woman and she'll fill you in on the rest. You can tell when you've fallen in love with the right woman because you'll never want to stop learning."
"Companies pay people a lot of money to advertise for them. The fact that you've decided to pay that particular clothing company a lot of money for that shirt because it has that company's name and logo on it is interesting to me as it seems you're not understanding the concept of advertising . . . or, for that matter, making money."
"Even if you're not a sailor you should still learn to tie knots in things. You'll probably never need to know how to tie one in real life, but you also don't really need to know the proper spelling of 'Albuquerque' or 'Czechoslovakia' either but that won't stop your teachers from drilling that into your head. If you have to learn how to do stuff that you don't need to know it might as well be stuff you learn in a backyard with your grandpa rather than in a classroom where you're not paying close attention anyway."
"Make sure you study hard because it makes your grandmother proud. I'll make sure I tell her I told you that because it makes her proud of me."
"There are only two reasons a man should ever be in public without a cleanly-shaven face. One, he's been camping or two, his grandchildren are coming over and he's going to hug them and then tickle their faces with his whiskers. We're at dinner, in a public restaurant, our waitress is attractive, and you don't have grandchildren. I hope you just got back from camping."
"Music without lyrics is easier to listen to because you don't have to pay attention to what the song says only what the song means."
"Working with tools and making nothing in particular is always more fun than working with tools to create something you need. When you're done making nothing in particular and no one can tell what you've made, you can tell them that you did a perfect job. When you're done making a bookshelf, people can generally tell that you aren't good with tools to begin with."
"Always have scrap-wood lying around."
"Love your wife; hopefully she's the only one you'll ever get, but also don't be in such a hurry to meet her."
"You always want to be proud of yourself just don't be arrogant about it. I see you have a problem with arrogance at times. You get that from me, and it's one of my very best qualities. We should still keep it to ourselves, unless we try to impress pretty girls. For some reason they like a guy who's sure of himself."
"Baseball is fun because you don't need energy to watch it or play it."
"If we did as well in life as we do on Jeopardy we'd probably not be eating cereal for dinner, but then again eating cereal with your grandson isn't bad either, remember that when it's your turn."
"You don't need to pay attention all the time. Sometimes it's best to sink into your own thoughts and head. Just make sure you nod along and agree. People won't care you're not paying attention to them so long as you're agreeing with them."
My grandfather was an amazing grandfather to me but an even better friend, and I'm fully aware and content with that fact that I probably won't ever have a better one as long as I live.
I gotta go shave.
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