The following is an exchange of text messages between my 2016 self and 1986 self.
Current Me: Hey kid, you still up? Hello? Anybody there?
Young Me: Hang on. You ever try texting on a Brick phone? Before texting was even invented? It takes a while. By the way, who is this?
CM: It’s me. I mean you. From the future. It’s us. Never mind.
YM: Relax old man. I’ve seen “Back To The Future.” I get the concept. What can I do for you?
CM: It’s more like what I can do for you. You see, I recently received a text from my buddy’s Kyocera flip phone, which made me realize I can communicate with people living in the past. So I thought I’d get a hold of you and impart a little advice for the future.
YM: Rad. Could you start with the answers to next week’s English test?
CM: Don’t worry about the test. You know that dream you have of becoming a journalist? Not going to happen. Which brings me to my first bit of wisdom. When looking for a job, find something you enjoy, even if it pays less than one you don’t. To help make that a little more feasible here’s some financial advice. Break your piggy bank, sell your Atari, sell your BMX and invest every penny in a company called Apple.
YM: Sell my bike? Buy apples? Who is this again?
CM: Trust me, kid. You’re gonna make a fortune. People love everything that company makes. Speaking of love, you’re going to have a decision to make when you’re 23: the girl you love or the trip of your dreams. It’s OK to choose the trip. Just know that two years later another girl will choose the trip of her dreams over you. Your heart will break then, too, but remember: It’s not karma, it’s life.
YM: Wait. We like girls? When does that happen? We still get to like sports, right? Do we still go with dad to Sonics games?
CM: Look, we’ve already covered heartbreak. We have to get to other things. For instance, in August 1999 you’ll think you have enough time to turn in front of that car on 30th and Proctor. You don’t. When you’re 25 you won’t think you have enough courage to say hi to that cute brunette you’re crushing on. You do. In the sixth grade you’ll swear you’ll win the spelling bee without practicing. You won’t.
YM: Bummer. Can you tell me the word I miss so I can remember it?
YM: I misspell ‘nope’? Are you kidding me? I told you I should study for that English test.
CM: No, I can’t tell you the word because that would be cheating. I’m trying to guide you down life’s road, not repave it. So listen up. In 1995, the Mariners will be in a five-game playoff series against the Yankees. No matter what it takes, go to Game 5. Pawn your second-place spelling bee trophy if necessary. You’ll witness the greatest moment in Seattle sports history.
YM: So they win?
CM: Of course, but like so many other things in life it’s more about the “how” than the “what.” Anyway, I'll try to wrap this up. I can’t imagine how much a texting plan costs in 1986. Just let me leave you with a few more thoughts. When you’re working at the dairy in the summer of 1991, don’t leave the front gate open. The cows will notice. All 300 of them. Never give up on your friends, family or faith. Forgive others, but don’t forget to forgive yourself, too. And mom is right, life isn't fair.
YM: That’s a lot for a 10 year-old to remember, but I’ll do my best. Hey, I gotta go. “Alf” is on. Thanks for everything. I guess I’ll see you in 30 years.
70 Year-Old Me: So, how’d he take it?
CM: He’ll be fine. Now where were we? Oh yeah, you were telling me to sell my motorcycle and invest in a company that makes gluten-free, pumpkin-spice veggie burgers? Who are you again?
70 Year-Old Me: Trust me kid, you’re gonna make a fortune.
Zac Smith is a water quality technician for Lakewood Water District who warns Samsung Galaxy 7 users against attempting to talk with their younger selves as their phones may explode. He is one of six reader columnists who write for this page. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org