Dateland: Life Lessons


I’m writing this on the day before I turn 50. I’m about to head down to New Orleans to kill off the last few brain cells that made it through my youth, and also very probable to break a hip.

I was thinking this would be the perfect time to write a column from Old Jen to Young Jen. Tell Young Jen all the wise things I have learned over the years that would prevent her from making terrible life choices. But, honestly, why waste my energy? Young Jen was an idiot. She’d take one look at me in my withered lumpy form and a.) try to sleep with me (Young Jen had a mommy complex) and b.) knock me over the head and steal all my money. She certainly wouldn’t listen to a damn thing I’d tell her.

So, instead, I’m going to share all of my hard-earned wisdom with you, my dear readers. Here’s a list of life lessons that you can write on the back of your hand in case you need a crib sheet when you venture out into the scary world.

  1. Always bring a hostess gift. If you’ve been invited to someone’s home for a party, slap a bow on a trinket and present it at the door. Doesn’t really matter what you bring, but the bow is essential. It shows that you cared enough to remember to get a bow. This will make you very attractive to the hostess, and will usually lead to some constructive groping in the coat closet.
  2. Don’t have an adulterous affair. Forget about the moral implications for a moment and consider this: it’s just not fun. That’s what no one tells you before you embark on one of these things. You always think it’s going to be oh-so-French and that it will make you a more interesting person: the type of person who wears linen and is often caught staring dreamily into mid-distance. But after the initial thrill of doing something naughty, it leaves you feeling dirty and not in a good way…like you’ve taken a dip in an oil slick or haven’t brushed your teeth in several days.
  3. Pick up a check once in a while, you cheapskate! I’ve never regretted being too generous. I always grab for the check and over-tip. For one thing, it makes me seem like Frank Sinatra, and who didn’t want to sleep with Frank Sinatra? Conversely, who ever wanted to sleep with the legendary miser Hetty Green? Google her. Would you want to sleep with her?
  4. When traveling in an Amtrak sleeper car, always bring your own cleaning supplies. I love traveling by rail but Amtrak is filthy and the porters are passive-aggressive. They often conveniently forget to clean the berths between trips. So, bring disinfectant. Also, the club car usually runs out of good snacks within the first hour of a long trip because the Amish people who dominate the passenger manifest are terrible hoarders. They buy up everything immediately and refuse to share. Bring your own treats.
  5. Finally, be nice to your elders. I’m not saying this just because I’m now officially old. Rather, it’s good karma and also makes good business sense. If some old fool pulls you aside at a cocktail party and spouts a lot of nonsense about how you should live your life, nod your head vigorously and agree with everything they say. Because you’re young and stupid, they know you won’t follow any of their advice, but they will appreciate your kindness and attention. And they will leave you all of their jewels when they die. In fact, I’m writing you all into my will right now.

Gang: you’re welcome to visit with me on Facebook and Twitter. You’ll find me under my true identity—jenniferparello—on both sites.


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