you know the rules and so do i


SCENE: 20-year-old me is finishing up dinner at the Lodge at the University of North Carolina. It is February 1988, and everyone has left the dining room to prepare for the mixer that night. Suddenly, 42-year-old me fades in, right next to 20-year-old me, and tries to think of a way to not send the younger me into apoplectic shock.

42:  Hey. So let’s get this over with. I’m you at 42.

20:  What the FUCK?

42:  I haven’t got much time, and I know this is completely freaking you out, but you’ll just have to calm down and accept it.

20:  Calm down? I’m calm. Man, I always wished this would happen!

42:  You… wait a minute, what?

20:  Yeah! Getting into a time machine and visiting yourself! Are you kidding? I always swore I wouldn’t be the crazy asshole who refuses to accept it.

42:  So this doesn’t surprise you?

20:  Why, do I get much less flexible about this shit at your age?

42:  (mulls it over) Hm. Maybe. I hadn’t thought of it like that. (beat) Do you know that you take a bunch of pills before bed at 42?

20:  Why? I don’t have some fucked-up disease, do I?

42:  No, no. They’re totally awesome pills that solve a lot of problems. But I was just thinking the other day… you don’t need, like, six pillows to get to sleep and your back doesn’t hurt, does it?

20:  No, why?

42:  Never mind. Just mulling over my rigidity. (snaps back to business) So look, I’m not going to tell you what stocks to buy and what all’s going to happen, because if you don’t do things exactly the way you’re going to do them, you won’t end up where I am.

20:  And that’s a good thing?

42:  I won’t answer that.

20:  Well, you’ve already answered two of the biggest things.

42:  What’s that?

20:  Well, the second-most important thing is that you’re still alive, so that’s nice.

42:  What’s the most important thing?

20:  Are you kidding? I still have my hair!

42 sighs and rolls his eyes. 20 continues.

20:  Besides, you’re still the same weight, and aren’t all jowly or anything.

42:  Yeah, well, I mean… forty-two is a little different where I am. Oh, but you do get fat for a while.

20:  Fat? Like how fat? Dangerously obese fat?

42:  No, no. Just vaguely uncomfortably fat, you know, fat-necked pioneer ancestors

kind of fat.

20:  And then what happens?

42:  Part of it is those pills I was talking about. But hold on, I digress. I was going to tell you some things you should know, but if I remember correctly, you had some specific things you were worrying about right now.

20:  Um, yeah. First off, is Mom okay?

42:  Yes, don’t worry about her. Or Dad. I mean, worry about them like normal, but don’t go overboard.

20:  These heart palpitations I have, do they-

42:  They’re called P.A.C.’s or something. You finally have one while you’re wearing the Holter monitor and they confirm it. Totally fine, caused by stress.

20:  What about romantic stuff?

42:  Well… (stops, looks around, strains to hear something) Wait, is that “Never Gonna Give You Up” on someone’s radio?

20:  Yeah. The guy sounds like Kermit the Frog.

42:  Y’know, in the future, there’s something funny about that song that… oh man, that would take about four hours to explain. Anyway. Romantically, this is kind of a shitty school year, but it gets a lot better in the fall semester.

20:  Cool. There’s the whole virginity loss thing-

42:  Again, I wouldn’t worry about that. In fact, fairly soon, you’re going to have more options than you can deal with, and it might behoove you to show some valor and discretion. But you’re not going to, so fuck it.

20:  But… do I get married and everything?

42:  (smiles) I wouldn’t worry about that either.

20:  (horrified) Oh, fuck. I do, don’t I? Does it suck? Is it motherfucking JAIL?

42:  Man you have a lot to work out. Keep this in mind: you know older people always tell younger people “you don’t know dick!” and always call them egomaniacal shitheads with no sense of how the world works?

20:  Yes.

42:  Dude, you don’t know dick, and you’re an egomaniacal shithead with no sense of how the world works.

20:  Uh-huh. (points to 42’s shoes) And you’re so cool in the future that you’re wearing Keds?

42:  These aren’t Keds! They’re skater shoes. And they’re cool!

20:  Uh-huh.

42:  Okay. I swore I wouldn’t do this, but… (hold up an iPod Nano)

20:  What’s that?

42:  This little thing? It plays every song on every album you have ever owned, with room for about 147 more albums.

20:  (enrapt) Oh my god. No WAY. Who makes them?

42:  You know your Mac Plus?

20:  Yeah?

42:  That’s a hint. (looks at iPod’s clock) Shit, I only have a few more seconds. I’m trying to think of what to tell you that won’t give anything away, but also some advice you’d actually follow. (beat) I can’t think of anything.

20:  It’s okay. I mean, you’re alive, you have your hair.

42:  Things get very dark for you, a few times.

20:  I mean, I’m not kidnapped and tortured, am I?

42:  No, but that doesn’t mean things don’t get dark. However, there is… well, I’ll give you a hint. A little piece of light explodes the darkness. Along with someone you already know.

As 42 says this, he begins to fade into ether.

20:  What the hell does that mean?

42:  Gotta go! Be nice to all your friends – you still have them even here!

20:  So it all turns out, sorta, okay?

42:  Gotta go!

20:  Wait! Please… motherfucking please tell me Carolina wins a National Championship. We’re always ranked first and then go out in the Elite Eight-

42:  Patience will be rewarded! Go Heels!

20:  Go Heels!

He disappears. EXEUNT.

0 thoughts on “you know the rules and so do i

  1. CM

    Great!! That was just evidence that you are an awesome screenwriter. I bet that took you only a few minutes, too. I can’t wait to see whatever you and Tessa come up with for the big (or small) screen….

  2. Salem

    Excellent adventure.
    Hey, this could be a new business. Instead of starting a celebrity impersonator business, I charge parents of college students gobs of money to fake a “back to the future” intervention for their 20 year old children. The 20 year olds would be severely damaged,but the parents would pay a fortune for this last ditch effort to manipulate their adult children!

  3. craighill

    that’s great. begs the age old question – would you trade places with that guy, knowing what you know? for me, yes, i think…

  4. Paul G

    Nice dialogue.
    And thanks for the heart palpatation line. I think you just cured me of something I’ve been nervous about for 10 years.

  5. Bud

    Salem, didn’t Stan’s parents hire a guy to do that on South Park? Regardless, today’s helicopter parents would probably jump all over it!


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