As much as it pains me to admit it, today’s date brings me to yet another birthday. I’m not going to say the age, but I have not yet hit the magic age of 40. That will come soon enough, but not this year. Forty is the age where, traditionally, men divorce their wives and run off with floozies, trade in their sedans in favor of sports cars and undergo the crises associated with hitting middle-age. Luckily, I’ve avoided this fate by never getting married, running off with floozies whenever possible and by never owning a sedan. However, I have adopted another trait favored by the middle-aged: telling younger people exactly what to do and couching it in the group of “Things I wish I’d done.” I’m not going to tell you to lay off the drugs and alcohol, because a) I’m not a hypocrite and b) that’s a decision you’ll have to make on your own. Drink and drug yourself to death, if that’s what you want. It just leaves more booze for me if you do. While there are many items I could cover, I’m going to limit myself to the most important ones, the ones which will really affect your life. Young whippersnappers, I advise you to take heed. Or else I’ll crack you over the head with my cane. If I’d followed my own advice on these matters, I wouldn’t be typing these words today. Instead, I’d be sitting poolside, dispensing wisdom to beauty pageant contestants, supermodels and young starlets. Anyway, my first and most important piece of advice is Don’t Fuck Up Your Credit Rating. While it may be fun to live beyond your means for a few years, be advised that messing up your credit rating will mean many years of hardship later. Even if you get a job making pretty decent money, it won’t matter if your credit rating sucks. You’ll be making money but you won’t be able to buy anything nice. That means no new car, just a crappy used car for which you’ll be paying 18 percent interest. That means no new furniture, just urine-soaked thrift store sofas for you. And you’ll end up paying cash for everything you do buy. People who make half the money I do, but have good credit, can buy things of which I can only dream, unless I go to a rent-to-own store and pay several times more than the item costs. The second rule of adulthood should be this: The only valid reason not to engage in sex with someone is if you’re not attracted to them. A brief anecdote should explain this one. Years ago, I knew a lovely young woman who was dating a friend of mine. All hyperbole aside, she was the most beautiful woman who ever walked the face of the earth. There came a time when my friend’s loutish behavior drove her not only out of his arms but up State Road 37 to my apartment. Given an opportunity to show her the infinite wit, charm and seductive skills I possess, I foolishly advised her to work it out with my buddy. She did. They broke up a few months later. The lesson here is, when it comes down to it, my buddy didn’t matter. He was an asshole then and remains so to this day. The last I heard, she was married to a member of the Tennessee Titans. When it comes to romance, forget about honor. Forget about other peoples’ happiness. If a window of potential happiness opens for you, wriggle through it and deal with the consequences later. The third and most important rule is, Never Vote Republican unless the candidate’s last name is Hudnut or McCain. They’ll rob you blind even as they appear to hand you money. Remember that $300 check Bush sent out just before Sept. 11? Rest assured you’ll end up paying a few thousand dollars back to him before it’s over. I learned a valuable lesson in 2000. People told me that if I voted for Nader, the budget surplus would evaporate, unemployment would rise, we’d be on the brink of the Apocalypse and the rest of the world would hate America more than before. I voted for Nader anyway, and they were right! (The no-Republican rule does not apply to you if your own last name is Halliburton, if you are a billionaire or if you are a member of the Saudi royal family.) There are many other potential pieces of advice I could give — don’t stick your hand down the toaster unless it’s unplugged, don’t ever see a Hugh Grant movie, those so-called “no-stick” pans are lying to you — but these are the basics.