A quick preface: back in December, “Ben” (as the kids call him) left his adopted hometown of Nashville–comfortable job, close-knit friends, proximity to his girlfriend–to pursue his dream of screenwriting in Los Angeles. Before Ben went west, young man, I wrote him a letter, as many good friends do. Here it is:
I wanted to write to you about your decision to move to LA. You have decided to leave your comfort zone and follow your heart, and I, knowing something about the subject, want to give you one crucial piece of advice before you leave:
Don’t do it. I’m not even kidding. As you read this, you may think it’s the type of sarcastic joke that I’m prone to tell, but you would be as wrong as you typically are. Don’t move to LA. Don’t leave Nashville. Following a dream is lame and selfish. Remember lunch? I sure don’t, and neither will you. My stomach gave up growling suggestively months ago. Now it just sits angrily, going, “where did all this cereal come from?” Cocktail olives are not a meal, Ben. Neither are vitamins.
Look at everything you’re giving up, for crying out loud: a great apartment, best friends, an easy drive to see your girlfriend, a plush advertising job, etc. For what? To write? For television?? Best case scenario: you’re getting coffee for some temps at UPN. Worst case scenario: you’re a body double in Brokeback Mountain II. It’s not worth it, man.
Stay in Nashville. Propose to your girlfriend. Stay at your ad agency. Tuck in your Polo. Eat regularly. Drink after work and before bed. Smoke cigars snobbily. Give people the “no-look handshake.” Pretend to read the paper when you don’t want to talk to somebody. Laugh loudly at easy jokes, especially if they’re told by your boss. Buy an Audi. Go to Demonbreun. Listen to James Taylor. Check your hair for grays. Smile proudly when they arrive. Vote Republican (or don’t you already). Spend inordinate amounts of time on a boat. Have juniors. Bronze their boat shoes. Teach them the secret handshake. Shame them for being bad athletes. Sniff $12 wine. Watch Two and a Half Men and laugh contemptuously when the “written by” line comes up, remembering with disgust your wild and impressionable youth, when you thought happiness was preferable to security. Call up your old friend Chris and ask how everything’s going in Neverneverland.
From the other side,
(Editor’s note: Ben knew that he had made the right decision as soon as he read Chris’s denouncement of it and promptly moved to California. He is currently fetching lattes for Moesha…)