If like me, you have recently entered that period of life known as middle age, take heed: The building years of your life are over, and what you are now is pretty much what you are going to be. Soon it will be what you were. You can no longer tell yourself that you might move to Lisbon, learn Portuguese, and take up the guitar. But you can follow a set of simple rules to guide you the rest of the way. Best of all, these rules work no matter what your age and stage of life.
First and foremost, be kind. Mean is easy; kind is hard. Once we reached eighth grade, many of us got the idea that the nasty put-down, the superior smile, and the clever one-liner are the signs of intelligence and great personal strength. But this kind of wit is, to borrow from the writer John Scalzi, “playing the game on easy mode.” Making yourself feel bigger by making someone else feel small takes so little skill that 12-year-olds can do it.
Always order one extra dish—an unfamiliar one—at a restaurant. You might like it, which would be splendid. If you don’t like it, all you lost was a couple of bucks. If you can’t afford to order that one extra dish, then the restaurant is too expensive for your budget anyway and you should find a cheaper one.
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