Comedian Sarah Kendall’s most recent show, Touchdown, finds her reminiscing about teenage anxieties and finding a place in the world. With that in mind, we asked her to offer some words of wisdom to her younger self.
Dear Sarah of 1992,
Hello, it’s me. Or rather, it’s you in the year 2014. Yes, we have developed technology that enables people to send letters back through time. I can’t imagine this is going to backfire horrifically for our civilisation.
I want to take this chance to talk about a few things. I’ve been very careful about what I’ve chosen to tell you. As you already know from Back To the Future Part II, one must be very careful about the information one sends through space and time. We don’t want our own little version of the Grays Sports Almanac falling into Biff Tannen’s hands, do we? That would be as unethical as me advising you to buy shares in a company called Google AS SOON AS YOU CAN.
Firstly, I’m going to break the bad bits of news about your next 22 years. You and I love lists, so let’s get this over quickly:
1. The first time you have sex is pretty rubbish.
2. You don’t end up rich.
3. Mum was, and still is, right about practically everything.
4. You didn’t marry the actor who played Jake Ryan in the movie 16 Candles. He retired from show business and now makes furniture somewhere in Pennsylvania. There are no recent pictures of him anywhere on the Internet. (The Internet is a device on your computer that enables you to waste your life.)
5. You are ageing. More wrinkles are appearing each year. Hangovers frighten you. You don’t like loud music in pubs or restaurants. You look bewildered in clothing shops. You think young people talk too loudly on the bus. You think all modern songs sound the same. Wine makes you sleepy.
6. You don’t hang out with Beck or Winona Ryder. You’ve never even met them.
And now for the things that should cheer you up:
1. Gwen Stefani looks exactly the same.
2. You’ve met Patrick Swayze and Olivia Newton-John.
3. You get better at sex. Please don’t confuse that with me saying that you are good at it.
4. You don’t mind ageing. There’s a lot of good stuff that comes with it – it just never gets mentioned by cosmetic companies. It’s a shame we don’t get bombarded with adverts reminding us about what a privilege it is to age.
5. It’s okay not being rich. In fact the things that really bring you joy can’t be bought. Except for champagne, travelling business class, cashmere, scalp massages and decent coffee. Besides those, what really makes you happy are things like when your kids make each other laugh, and…sunshine and…
Actually it sucks not being rich.
Now I told you I didn’t want to give too much away, because where is the fun in life if you know what’s going to happen? (Other than knowing to BUY SHARES IN GOOGLE.) So this is the biggest piece of wisdom I can offer you without giving too much away or depressing you.
You had two favourite books when you were a child. One was called The Bears’ Picnic. Remember it? You’re very busy sprinting towards adulthood at the moment, but I know you have a faint recollection of it. It’s about a family of bears who leave the house one morning with a picnic basket and set off to find the perfect location for lunch. They find all these exotic places, like tops of mountains and deserted beaches, but every time something goes wrong – like there are hoards of mosquitoes, or train tracks, or it rains. Bedraggled and exhausted, they come home and have their picnic indoors, and realise that the best place in the world is their kitchen.
I can’t remember the title of your other favourite book, but it’s about a guy who wants to buy a new shirt, so he goes into a shop and spends all day trying on loads of fancy shirts (like Pretty Woman, but without all the positive messages about prostitution). He gets increasingly frustrated because each shirt looks beautiful, but doesn’t feel perfect. At the end of the story he sees a gorgeous red shirt. He tries it on and he’s amazed by how good it looks and feels. He’s so delighted with it, he asks the shopkeeper, “How much for this exquisite garment?”
And the shopkeeper says, “Sir, that’s the shirt you arrived in.”
That’s all you need to know. Good luck.
Sarah Kendall is an Australian stand-up comic who lives in London. She likes pictures of cats with lasers coming out of their eyes.