Today’s bit of fancy-sounding wisdom is "Carpe diem," which means "seize the day" and is good advice for everyone except epileptics.
The phrase dates back to at least Julius Caesar, one of history’s noted seizers and epileptics. For instance, he seized Gaul and secured a vast amount of greasy Frenchmen for Rome. He also coined the phrase "Vini, vidi, vichi," which means, "Quick, put a leather strap in my mouth so I don’t choke on my tongue."
But even those of us who do not wish to conquer France could learn something from Caesar: You will probably be dead 2,100 years after your birth and, anyway, you shouldn’t be too surprised when you are brutally murdered by someone named Brutus. Because you never know when someone wearing a toga will kill you, it’s a good idea to grab your opportunities when they come.
Here’s a hint: You will not be automatically happy when tests are over, when you get a job or get married. Those things are good goals, not instant bliss. Something is not better because you waited for it. It might still be nice, but you saw it coming. The great moments are the one’s you just go for.
Say, for instance, your name is Pete Best, it’s 1961, and you’re playing drums for some half-starved band in Hamburg. John and Paul seem like nice enough guys, but one day they let some mutant named Ringo sit in. Do you fight for your job or just go along with it?
If you’re Pete Best, you roll with it. Pete Best spent 1963 looking through the want ads in Mersey Beat, while the Beatles became bigger than Jesus. To this day, Pete regrets not beating the stoned accent out of Ringo and leaving him in a German alley.
Or maybe you have a crappy job that’s going nowhere. Artificially inseminating cows pays the bills, but it lacks a certain something and sucks all the joy out of a Big Mac. Plus, the boss is a prick and he keeps screaming at you to jack the bulls off quicker, like it’s an assembly line and not an art form. But, you know, you’ve got those car payments and you don’t have another job lined up. So what? Quit. Tomorrow a bull could go crazy, you get gored and no one wants to tell mom how you died.
Hell with it. Hop on the back of a Harley driven by some hot mamma and ride 300 miles to Las Vegas. Steal a hog from a large man named Thor. Do whatever. Just do something you want to do.
Do as I say and not as I do.
Last Wednesday, a woman braved the dark, unholy aura of lost souls that surrounds the Daily Nexus office and came to see me. She was beautiful and she came in because she read my column and wanted to wish me a happy Valentine’s Day.
Before I go any further, let’s get this out of the way: I am a dork. The only way I could ever be described as "smooth" would involve a belt sander accident. Plus, no one has ever come into the office about a column except to yell at or threaten me.
So, a pretty woman walks into the office to sing my praises. Now, being a smooth man about town, a gentleman if you will, I fail to utter a coherent sentence. I stare at the top of my shirt. I mumble. Eric, the campus editor and a shrewd observer of subtle events, said I turned "bright red and then purple."
Eric, and I say this with the greatest affection, is a bastard.
The moral: If an attractive person wishes you a happy Valentine’s Day, try and look them in the eye and buy them a cup of coffee, for chrissake.
And always remember: "Sinatras twaddilum ficti," which is Latin for "important sounding gibberish I just made up."
Yes, Brendan Buhler wrote an entire column in a vain attempt to get in touch with a pretty woman who said something nice to him. He is an assistant campus editor and writes "Black Box" whenever he wants to pass a note in class.