Hey, kid. I think it’s time we had the talk. Not that talk. We will never have that talk.
It’s not the talk all parents give their kids about vigilance and safety in crowds, either.
No, I mean the other talk, the talk at least two National Review writers (as Ta-Nehisi Coates observes) have had with their sons about what you should and should not be afraid of. The I’m-not-racist-but-here-is-some-harsh-real-advice-my-father-once-gave-me-about-how-you-should-never-speak-to-anyone- different-than-you-ever-especially-not-black-people talk. This isn’t prejudice. It’s realism.
Here is the talk to end all of these talks.
Listen well. Imbibe my fears. Let them guide you.
If you want to be absolutely safe in life, here is a vague smorgasbord of anecdotes, prejudices and bad experiences my uncle once had that will, I think, protect you in the future from death or at least from new experiences that could change your mind about people, which are in some ways worse.
1. Don’t jog at night. Don’t jog during the daytime. Never jog. One hundred percent of joggers who were mugged were jogging in the first place.
2. Never marry or have a family. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, 22 percent of murder victims were killed by spouses or family members.
3. Never get to know anyone. Most rapists are someone you know.
4. Never climb a mountain. One hundred percent of the people threatened and beaten in misunderstandings with their Sherpas were on mountains in the first place.
5. Keep away from frustrated painters. They are responsible for more genocides than people suffering from any other kind of professional disappointment.
6. Don’t eat fruit. One of your ancestors once tried fruit, and she got kicked out of the place where she was living and had to experience the pains of childbirth. (Note: This might not be literally true, but it’s about as true as you need for this sort of story.)
7. Never speak to Jewish people. One hundred percent of people who have spoken to a Jewish person, even once, are dead now or on their way to being dead.
8. Avoid bridge and tunnels. One hundred percent of people involved in bridge and tunnel collapses were on bridges or tunnels.
9. Don’t walk through certain areas of downtown L. A., ever. One of your distant relatives once walked through that area, and he was savagely attacked by a saber-toothed tiger and dragged into a tar pit.
10. Don’t use the Internet. The Internet is used by pedophiles.
11. Avoid bus stops, parking lots, schools, houses, cars, the Pyramids, the suburbs, the city, lakes, oceans, rivers, Kansas, your own back yard, small hole-in-the-wall cafes, big fancy restaurants, the environs of the Eiffel Tower, places where they serve food that is different than the food your mother cooked, barbecues, street festivals, grandma’s house. Terrible things have happened in all those places.
12. Don’t visit Gettysburg. Your great-great-great-great-great uncle Elmer visited Gettysburg, and he was shot by a Confederate soldier.
13. Don’t eat packaged food. It can be contaminated. Don’t eat unpackaged food. It can be unclean. Don’t eat.
14. Never date someone who comes from a different socioeconomic background than you. All four of your parents will die.
15. Never date someone outside your race. You will both die, sometimes even of liver failure.
This is how the world is, really.
Your fear is the only thing that matters.
These are facts. These are not prejudices or misunderstandings, but hard, cold facts.
So far, no one who said that a life lived in fear is not worth living has ever made it out.
Try, if possible, not to be born. If you are born, you will have to interact with people who are different than you, and you will learn, and you will change your mind, and you will discover all kinds of wonder and unlooked-for happiness, and one day, you will die.
This must be avoided at all costs.
(Come say hi! I’m @petridishes)