What I’ve Learned is a feature in Esquire magazine that highlights interviews in a unique format.  A lifelong subscriber, I’ve read What I’ve Learned by dozens of celebrities, athletes, politicians, and ordinary folk.  These entertaining glimpses into the thoughts of individuals always deliver at least one memorable quote.

In 2006, I used a few quotes from the What I’ve Learned interviews in a sermon, including the interview with Hunter Clemons, your average American pre-teen, just 11 years old at the time.  You can read his interview here:  http://www.esquire.com/features/what-ive-learned/ESQ0706WIL_114.  After that, I started to listen to people with new ears, imagining how I might position their words in this lively style.

Recently I was thinking that Hunter is probably about to graduate, as is my son, Chase.  I suggested to Chase that he sum up his years thus far in a What I’ve Learned essay.  He immediately volleyed back the assignment saying, “they are written from the perspective of the one doing the interview;  I can’t interview myself.”

Chase graduates in 68 days;  his time under my wings is drawing to a close.  Late last night, while reviewing our text conversations for the past year, I accepted his challenge.  Happy Graduation Chase;  it has been a fascinating joy to raise you.

Chase as penguin

What I’ve Learned            Chase Montana Smith, Age 18  

Distractions sneak up on you.  My mom mentioned once that just listening to a review of Boardwalk Empire sent her mind into orbit on Hunky Mobsters.  I got it.

It happens to me with southern movies and westerns:  I become a cowboy with a southern girl before I so much as blink.

Getting a tattoo does in fact hurt.  Generally the pain is about a 6;  but occasionally…it’s a solid 9.

In sports, no matter how loyal you are to a specific team, eventually a playoff rivalry happens when you take their opponent.  Like when Notre Dame played Alabama.  It was the first time I ever pulled for the Fightin’ Irish.  War Damn Eagle.

Well-placed, there is no substitute for the F-word.  Like on the back cover of Nick Tosches novel, He And The Devil.  Johnny Depp is quoted as saying, “Words and wisdom that I shall carry with me into the fucking dirt.”  Plain ole dirt just wouldn’t have made much sense.

Salsa dancing is a bit of a misnomer.  It’s more like regular dancing to salsa music.

I’ve never been in a musical, but I do think I’d love to be Jean Valjean when he fights Javier in the hospital.  Just once.

Every decade has a few great songs that define that era.  I was born in 1994, so my list for that decade is limited.  But Reminisce Over You is on it.

It is absurd that we have an article of clothing in our society called a wife beater.  Especially since I’ve noticed I could use some more…to be used as a tight-fitting undershirt–not domestic violence.

There are some things that would be unsavory to even whisper in a sanctuary.

Some jobs really are far better than others.  My senior year of high school I received a promotion from the Dept. of Parks and Recreation to be the site supervisor for youth basketball at the high school.  I made $ 9.50 an hour.  After spending the summer smelling of greasy fries and sticky lemonade, this promotion was welcome indeed.

The drama of high school girls is relentless.  Take out that passive aggression in a positive way ladies, please!

Unfulfilled promise happens everywhere.  Life of Pi was like that.  It promised a story worthy of this sentence: “It was a huge zoo, spread over numberless acres, big enough to require a train to explore it, though it seemed to get smaller as I grew older, train included.” It didn’t deliver.

Spanish is a beautiful language.  I gave up singing in the choir to make it through 5 years of Spanish in high school…all for the satisfaction of being able to throw Si se puede! into a conversation with my mum.

A man on a mission will not be foiled and I am unfoilable.

One comment

  1. “The drama of high school girls is relentless. Take out that passive aggression in a positive way ladies, please!”

    All I’ll say is a hearty AMEN!


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