My kids are now both in school. One’s in pre-school, where her entire focus is being able to be out of the house, functioning around her peers, and learning that there are other people besides myself and her mother that she needs to listen to. The other one is in kindergarten and he’s suddenly in a world where he’s gotta learn all sorts of shit. Real school stuff. School is full of stuff you need to learn, both academically and socially, and while some of it’s a total waste of time, some of it is absolutely fucking crucial to your success. I know that all of us have thought at one point “man, if I knew what I know now, I would have done high school/youth very, very differently.” Well, I think this brand of thinking can be applied all the way down to kindergarten, and since I have nothing better to do, I’m gonna put it out there:

the shit you really do, and really don’t need to know (a definitive and exhaustive guide):


Yeah, you’re gonna need to know how to read. But here’s the thing, you’re gonna learn to read, so relax. I know some DUMB motherfuckers who can read and unless you’re some kind of elusive genius of stupidity, you’re gonna wake up one day and you will be able to read, at least kind of. It’s just too hard to avoid. Will you be a good, fast reader? Not unless you practice. Will you have a high level of reading comprehension? Few people do. I had a teacher once who said “If we were serious about getting kids to read in this country, we’d give em all pornography and they’d be reading in no time.” Well, Miss Stone, welcome to the internet, and the subsequent golden age of semi literacy.



You don’t have to be good at writing. Writing is like flying a plane: if you’re into it, and you like it, you MAY be able to find a way to make money doing it, and that’s cool, but you can also go your whole life without being able to write a single cogent thought (or fly a plane) and be fine. Coincidentally, some of the most famous people who ever flew airplanes (Mohammed Atta and Orville Wright come to mind) barely knew what they were doing, which is a lot like waaaaaaaaay to many famous writers to even begin to list in this limited space. In conclusion, fuck writing. You don’t need it.


Dates and shit:

You don’t need to remember dates. You’ll live through things and you’ll remember those dates because you just will (quick quiz: what was the date of 9-11?), but once you’re out of school, no one will ever, EVER ask you, nor will they be impressed if you remember when the Alamo was. Here’s the thing though, you need to be able to know HOW to remember dates. That’s key. You need to learn how to lock shit into your head, because there are things that are important to remember out there: this girl’s name that you’ve been talking to for the past half hour, which wire you snip when dismantling a live bomb, the way back to your car from this remote dildo shop, how many sandwiches you were gonna buy for the people in your office, and if you warm up that memory by learning totally inane shit like when the Boxer Rebellion first kicked off, well, you’re on your way to having a passable memory. And that shit IS important.



Kind of like writing but way more important. Here’s what I mean: you don’t need math. Computers will do the math for you. BUT, math is a cornerstone of critical thinking in real world, build-shit scenarios and you’re gonna need math if you want to do anything that involves science or engineering. That being said, if you’re into that shit, you’ll gravitate towards math naturally because the weird bending of the seemingly immutable laws of math will intrigue you in ways I can’t imagine. People who hate math suck at it too bad to ever become engineers in the first place. So don’t sweat math. You like it? Great. It’s a valuable tool, and you’re set up. You hate it? Well, the world needs garbage men and hair stylists too.



You only need to know about this stuff if you want to seem intelligent. Most people don’t know shit about either of these things for good reason: classes about both are extremely dull. However, you’ll find that nothing makes you look smarter than referencing some biblical character, an obscure Upanishad, or some little known fact about the Bronze Age. Knowing about religion and history, even just a little, is the quickest way to look smart without wasting any time doing too much heavy lifting, and looking smart will get you jobs, of both the blow and employment variety, and so, uh…pretty important.


Athletic ability:

Who the fuck needs this? No one. Unless the world goes to shit and we start fighting for clean water, the notion that you’re great with a ball or a stick or something is about as important as being great at Candy Crush. SURE, you MAY be one of the lucky few who can train and train and rise up and be one of the most elite physical specimens in the world, but look at yourself. Are you already on that track? No? Sorry then. Not happening for you. That being said, being active is crucial. It’s very, very important. It’ll keep

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you sane, it’ll ward off depression and it’ll make your body the kind of body people want to fuck every once in a while, which will also do a lot for that depression and sanity of yours.


General niceness:

This is a tricky one, because it’s CRUCIAL to be nice to people. It’s one of the most important things on the earth, BUT it’s also a very one sided thing that’s not always good, if for no other reason than because the world is full of shitty monsters and you’ll be dealing with them all the time. Mean people DO thrive in this world, and knowing when to be mean is a great skill to have, but cruelty is a bummer, and much in the same way that being able to twist someone’s head off with your bare hands is probably really handy in certain situations, I can’t in good conscious recommend cruelty as something that you should cultivate. You’re gonna have to get a different mentor if you want to be cruel. I want no part of that.



Love is the most important, dare I say ONLY thing that you really need on this earth. If you’ve got love, you’ve got it all. Lest you think I’m being a hippy about this? Fuck you—consider the following: You know why Eddie Van Halen is such an innovative guitarist? Because he loves playing guitar. That’s the ONLY motivator that could possibly get him as far as he’s gotten. Ditto for Stephen Hawking, Albert Einstein, Gunther Grass, Mario Batali, Martin Scorsese, Bill Murray (and on and on) and their respective passions. A huge part of growing up is learning to love, testing out loving things, realizing what happens when you stop loving things, or you love the wrong things, and applying your love more carefully. If you can love the people around you who are kind, and love aspects of this world and the human apparatus that make up your more ethereal surroundings (like, I love fixing cars/heavy metal/topiary gardening/studying the dolphins), then you will be fine. I don’t give a shit if you can read (you can read) or do math (no one else can do math either) or dunk a basketball (for dorks). Love is all you need. But we’re not done with the list.


Being funny:

You’ll learn this in school and at home. Everyone thinks their own kids are funny. Almost everyone is wrong about that though. But whatever. In school, they’ll learn the truth about how funny they are/aren’t. Here’s the thing about being funny: you don’t HAVE to be funny, but holy shit is life easier if you are. It’s like being able to walk. You can’t do it? No worries. We’ve got some ideas for how to accommodate you and it’ll be fine. However, if you CAN walk, you’ll be breezing through this place high fiving motherfuckers and getting LAID. Yes. Being funny will get you laid, especially if you’re male. Being funny on a guy = big tits on a woman, in that even if you have NO other redeeming qualities, someone in this bar will fuck you based only on that lone attribute.

BTW, I do NOT mean to imply that people who can’t walk can’t get laid. Of course they can. If they’re funny.



Like being funny in the ‘it’ll get you laid’ department, but you don’t have to actually be good at music to reap the rewards of being a musician. In fact, these days, being a ‘musician’ is more of a style thing than a talent thing and it’s pretty much just a shell corporation, beneath which dorks attempt to brood their way into the pants of others. Studying actual music and being a true artist? That’s a special skill that you really don’t need (though, it will be nice when we’re fighting to the death for clean water if you could bust out a nice tune every now and then). What you DO need is a bad attitude, an unshakable belief that you’re important (you’re not) and some completely stupid ideas about style. NOW you’re ready to be in a band. These attributes may seem stupid, and they are, but they’re shockingly important in getting people to pay attention to whatever the fuck you’re saying, which IS important. Especially if you’re saying something like “dude, the porch is on fire.”



Crucial. If you don’t share, people will hate you. People will call you cheap and people will dislike your choices and lame friends and every aspect of your shitty, non-sharing being. This does not just involve money and items. It’s also true for time, and especially mental space. Here’s what I mean: if you’re positive, POSITIVE that you’re the funniest, best person in the room, and that your story is going to blow everyone’s mind (you’re not, it won’t) then by all means, dominate the conversation and hold court. Otherwise, shut up and let other people talk every now and then. Ask em about their dull jobs and families and shit. Your shit is just as dull. People want to interact, not be interacted at. So listen. Be cool. Share your shit. Pick up the tab every now and then. Let people tell you about the things they like and make an effort to try those things and see if you like them too. If you do, let that person know that they turned you onto something new. People love that shit. If you see a gift you know your friend would like, buy it for them and give it to them next time you see them. When they ask why, just say “because I thought of you when I saw this dumb thing.” I’m being serious. Fuck waiting for birthdays. Do this shit. ‘Sharing’ is what they call the very basic version of this in preschool. Just like they call 2+2 math. But math is more than that. Math is also what holds the planets in orbit around the sun and keeps jesus and the holy ghost up in heaven. Likewise, sharing starts out as letting someone else hold your GI Joe for a second but grad-school level sharing is way bigger and more nebulous. It’s a theory, and it’s crucial to be good at it. Unless you’re super duper hilarious and hermity. In which case, you’re uh…I don’t know, Lewis Black, maybe? If you’re Lewis Black, disregard this, I guess.

The rest of us, keep the above in mind and we’ll do okay, I think. Oh, and fuck everyone you possibly can while you’re young, because soon you’ll get old and no one will want to fuck you anymore. Sorry.

Use rubbers.

Love you guys.


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  1. jessica says:

    You’re quite smart and I enjoy it 🙂

  2. Joe says:

    If you play a sport for 12 years and love it, you won’t have to pay for college.

    • Jake says:

      Man, if this was true for things that weren’t sports, I would not be in $100,000 of student loan debt! I also probably would still know how to play the saxophone.

      I should buy a saxophone.

  3. dustyfloors says:

    This is fucking brilliant!!!

  4. dustyfloors says:

    This is fucking brilliant!!!

  5. Anonymous says:

    Awesome post, loved it

  6. Joel Radford says:

    Awesome post, loved it

  7. Doesn't matter says:

    Good stuff

  8. oli says:


    the rest is well written and great!

  9. Pingback: The Importance of Being a Failure : KQED Pop

  10. DarthPickles says:

    I was going to get all butthurt that you said writing was unnecessary until I saw your point about love. You saved it, man. You really saved it. Because I love writing, I didn’t have to get butthurt and be butthurt at you. You’ve done us both a service today.

    You are the wind beneath my wings.

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