While the rest of my generation was locked in their rooms living off of Dunkaroos and 3 hours of sleep trying to read the latest Harry Potter book, I was pouring into the lives of three Baudelaire orphans and the series of unfortunate events that befell them after the most curious death of their parents. Carefully documented by the mysterious Lemony Snicket (AKA author Daniel Handler), the series filled my childhood with odd characters and bizarre eccentricities, a word which here means a man of indeterminate gender, an elusive and secret organization, and a ghastly child protective system. I began The Bad Beginning when I was 11 and finished with The End as a junior in high school. I cherished those unfortunate years and can assuredly say that they helped define who I am today. I learned a lot from Violet, Klaus, and Sunny, and owe my extreme love of words (and rather large vocabulary) to Mr. Snicket himself, but the following is a list of the top twenty lessons I learned from Lemony:
20. If Pasta Puttanesca is ever on the menu, order it.
19. Teeth are always good substitutes for knifes and other sharp objects.
18. It’s better to be “out” than “in”. See: Parsley Soda.
17. It’s hard to think with hair in your face.
16. The Dewey Decimal system should never be used to design the floor plan of a hotel (nor in a library if you can help it).
15. When you meet someone new, always check for tattoos.
14. Triplets are insulted if you call them twins, even if their triplet is dead. To be safe, assume everyone is a multiple.
13. Spiral notebooks are the shizz. See: the Quagmire Triplets.
12. Klaus Baudelaire might have been the coolest savant ever.
11. The law is never helpful because “Justice” is far too gullible.
10. Best Assassins: Leeches
9. How to successfully disguise yourself as an office plant, how to hide children inside a fountain, how to escape a forced marriage, and how to elude impromptu brain surgery.
8. If it’s written with alliteration, don’t go near it. See: the Miserable Mill, the Grim Grotto, and Lachrymose Lake. All bad places.
7. Best Location For A First Date: on a cliff on the side of a slippery slope. What happens on the cliff, stays on the cliff.
6. It takes a village to permanently scar a child.
5. If you have a relative named Montgomery Montgomery you should probably go live with him, then purchase a really expensive security system and some super huge body guards. Actually–scratch that. Change your names and move to a different hemisphere. Oh, and bring the snake.
4. Adults are stupid. Never become one.
3. The Volunteer Fire Department is really part of a secret organization.
2. Horse Radish is the culinary equivalent for Wasabi. A very useful tool for cooking or random trivia games.
All these things are true and very helpful indeed. But of all the things I learned from my time with the Baudelaires and the many people they loved and lost along the way, there is one thing that is more valuable than the rest. And that is this:
1. Life isn’t fair. So, be satisfied with unhappy endings and unanswered questions. Mourn the loss of friends and celebrate the gain of new ones. Use the talents God gave you and always help those in need. Explore all options and never give up hope. After all, life is just a series of unfortunate events and it’s up to us to find the light in the darkness, the calm in the storm. When you find it, you’ll know.
The world is quiet here.