Yes, I’m you. Never mind the hair, you’ll get tired of losing that comb in it soon enough. I know the only bald guys you know are old buggers and Buddhist priests, but believe me, in about twenty years, it’ll be cool. Perfect timing.
This letter to 16-year-old-self shit would never have worked. I know you still write letters, but I don’t. The most is an email or sms. Yes, dude, I know you’ve never heard of these things, but you will in about ten years. Don’t worry about it now, it’s too complicated to explain. So let’s go for a drink instead. Why? ‘Cos I got tagged by DD and so here I am. DD’s a friend, you’ll meet him in ’99 when you’re in advertising. Oh yes, you’re gonna be in advertising, believe it or not, you’ll never be RSM of the Commandos, sorry to break it to you. Don’t worry, you’ll take to it like RD to Lamprais. RD’s a blogger and– what–? A blogger is someone who has a blog which is a sort of– Look, will you shut the fuck up and get in the car? Yes, of course it’s mine. Jeez, what a twit.
This is the Sapphire, and that’s the Rosewood Bar. You’d have discovered it soon enough in a couple of years, so no harm done. Yes, it’s not cheap, but I’m paying. Remember this place. You’re gonna have a lot of fun here in about fifteen years.
I know you drink gin, and yes, I still do. But you’re gonna discover whisky when you can afford it, which won’t be very often, believe me. And no, you’re never gonna be rich unless you’re smarter with your money. Don’t ask me how that works, ‘cos if I knew I wouldn’t be drinking fucking gin.
OK, so I’m gonna give you some advice. I know you’re not gonna listen, but here it is, take it or leave it.
First off, see this fag? Don’t ever light one up. You’ll be sorry. It’ll be one of the greatest regrets of your life. You love rugby, don’t you? Well, start smoking, and you’ll never play that sport again. In a couple of years, Warren’s gonna start offering you smokes. Tell him to fuck off, it’s not worth the cool factor. When you’re 30, Warren will quit smoking, but you won’t. Smoke that, Davo.
Next thing, that chick in church. Your first girlfriend? Go for it. Enjoy it. Yes, I know you never get any chicks, but this one’s gonna prove to you that yup, women do think you’re hot. A haircut won’t hurt though. But dump her in six months, ‘cos in nine, she’s gonna dump you, and you’re gonna make a fool of yourself trying to hold onto her. And no, you’re not gonna get in her pants — her next boyfriend will though. How does that feel? Remember those short stories you wrote and gave her to read? She told you she liked ’em, but she didn’t even read ’em. But have you noticed her best friend? Yes, she’s taller than you, and yes, she’s really shy and talks like she’s one of the Famous Five. But she really likes you. Really. And she’s smart and funny. But she’ll never tell you unless you notice her. Oh, and she kept photocopies of those stories ‘cos she liked ’em that much.
And the sex thing. Well, there’s this church trip down to Hikka in a few months. Trust me, make sure you don’t miss that. So til then, stop worrying about when you’re gonna get laid — believe me, it’s gonna happen, and it’ll keep happening more and more as you get older, and you’re gonna get better and better at it. But there are more important things to be good at. Just don’t miss that Hikka trip.
Next year, Warren’s gonna drag you off for dancing classes ‘cos it’s full of hot chicks. Don’t bother. You’re never gonna be a good dancer and you’re not gonna get those chicks.
OK, now I know you’re worried that the war’s gonna be over before you even get to fight. Dude, there’s more than enough time — this thing’s not gonna finish anytime soon. So stay in school, do your A/Levels, and go in as an officer — it’ll be more fun. And get ready. Get ready now. The Army’s not gonna be anything like you expect. I wasn’t ready. None of the guy’s with me were ready. You think you’re fit now? Well, you’re not. Running round Campbell Park with the under-17 team just won’t cut it in the Army. So get yourself fit. And leave everything behind, David. Everything. Your morals, your Christian bullshit conscience, the sense of justice and fairness Mum and Dad gave you. Leave it behind, ‘cos you’re not gonna need it at Elephant Pass. And if you leave ’em behind, maybe you can pick ’em up again when you get back. Take them with you, and the Army will take ’em away from you, and you’ll take years to get ’em back. And did I mention Elephant Pass? Yes, that’s where you’re going, so train well. You’re gonna meet a weapons instructor called Ariyaratne. Pick him clean. You’re gonna need it. Oh, and one more thing. In ’91, you’re gonna be walking from Vasavilan to Palaly, and a captain on a bike’s gonna offer you a ride to the airbase. Whatever you do, don’t get on that bike.
Mum and Dad are gonna miss you while you’re away, but they’ll never tell you that, so I thought I will. Couldn’t hurt to tell Mum you love her too instead of walking off into the recruit centre like an arsehole with a “See you then.” Your going away to war’s gonna be tough on them both, but especially her. Just so you know.
When you get back, you’re gonna feel lost. Well, try not to drink so much and if you can, get some therapy, ‘cos that loss is gonna stay with you for a long time.
You’re also gonna worry about a job, but as I told you before advertising’s not too bad, and the Army’s not gonna teach you anything you can really use. Shooting people for money isn’t really as good a living as it seems in the movies. Your first job’s gonna be shit. They’ll pay you just 1,500 bucks — yes, I know that seems a lot, but believe me, it’s peanuts — and make you sweep the office and make the tea too. But fuck ’em, ‘cos they’ll teach you how to do layouts and pasteup and typsetting. Just soak it up.
OK, enough of that shit. I know you’ll be OK. But back to the women, ‘cos that’s the one you’re really gonna fuck up. When you’re in your mid-twenties, you’re gonna meet a wonderful girl and you’ll fall in love with her and be thinking about marriage and all the other stuff that goes along with it. Then you’re gonna fuck it up. I won’t tell you how — where’s the fun in that? Look, I said advice, not fortune-telling, OK? So when you fuck it up, do it like a man, and not like a wimpy little ponneya, ‘cos she doesn’t deserve that, and believe me, you’ll regret hurting her, and wish you’d done it differently.
You’re gonna get married, dude. At 30. How about that? There’s a woman out there actually dumb enough to marry you. She’s gonna love you completely, and change your perspective on everything you’ve ever known of the world. But you’re gonna fuck it up again. I can’t tell you how to unfuck that one, ‘cos it’s pointless. You’ll never listen. But again, don’t hurt her like I did. ‘Cos she’s gonna be the mother of your son. Oh yes, David, you’re gonna have a son. The most fantastic piece of work you’ve ever done. Get ready. Get ready now, ‘cos I wasn’t, and that’s one thing I hope you don’t fuck up.
So now we’re well into the thirties, and you’re gonna meet another woman, and like the other great loves of your life, she’s gonna change your world, give you everything a woman can give — love, care, happiness — and yes, I think you get the picture now — you’re gonna fuck this up too, hurt her, and break her heart. Again, I know you won’t listen, but don’t pretend you’re doing it for her good — you’ll do it ‘cos you’re a chickenshit coward. So, pal, I hope you see the pattern early enough and catch it before you run out of chances. There won’t be too many, I know, so don’t waste them.
That thing about soulmates and destiny you’re so skeptical about? Well, it’s true. But the thing is, there’s more than just one for you. But there aren’t dozens either. There’ll be two or — if we’re both lucky — three, and it’s up to you to make the destiny reality.
Try and get to know Dad as early as you can. The longer you wait, the harder it’s gonna get. Don’t ask me why, but it’s true, so save me the trouble and get it over with.
Oh, and stop slouching. That’s gonna screw up your back.
I’d like to say that you’re gonna be OK, but I’m not sure. So good luck, and stay sharp, and try not to be a dick everyday. See you.