How to grow up

This entry is part 16 of 39 in the series Manual


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for J.R. on his 17th birthday

Leap often to get used to the view.

Swing from tree limbs every day to make sure your arms stretch to the proper length.

Growing up is not only difficult, but also extremely time-consuming.

Instead of the future, day-dream about the past—the one thing your warped desires can’t destroy.

It’s true that some caterpillars turn into lovely butterflies, but many more turn into drab brown moths. Avoid metamorphosis altogether if possible.

Friends come and go but books stay with you, even in a strong wind.

Instead of going on dates, court boredom, which will never desert you.

Make friends with the invisible family who lives upside-down on your ceiling.

Have somebody record your height on a door with a pencil every year. If the marks start to go lower rather than higher, this could indicate that instead of growing up, you are growing old.

Avoid anything that prevents a good night’s sleep. Prizes, for example, are for livestock.

Remember: you can keep learning all your life, but you’ll never again be able to skip school.

Experiment with different personalities.

Don’t be over-clever or let yourself be fired out of a cannon.

Feeling hungry? Try eating!

When I was your age, I was young.

If all your friends jumped off a cliff, would you jump off a cliff too? Why not? Don’t you like your friends?

Playing video games imparts a valuable life skill: how to hold your pee.

Watch movies rated for mature audiences. These are usually the most juvenile.

If you dream of a career in politics, learn to do magic tricks.

Hypnotizing chickens is not merely a fun stunt—it also makes them tractable prior to execution.

Go to school with blood on your shirt. Say it’s your name in Chickenscratch.

If all else fails, learn to walk on stilts.

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