Dating, Relationships, & Sex, Lists, Race & Politics, Theory & Essay

20 Life Lessons From The Champ

Listen up, fellas. The Champ's here to drop knowledge and drink milkshakes, and he's all out of milkshake

In a sign that the Pittsburgh-area market for Black male motivational speakers must be pretty shitty, I’ve been asked to speak to five different youth organizations this summer. But, although I originally weeped (in my head) for the young men who will be forced to sit and listen to my litany of pseudo-motivational cliches and bad Jewish humor, after giving it some thought, I think this might actually be a great opportunity to impart certain “wisdoms” they probably won’t hear anywhere else.

Here’s a few that I have in mind so far. Lemme know what you think.

1. Never run for a bus or a cab unless you’re 100 percent certain that you’ll catch it

2. There are two rules to remember if dating a stripper:
A. Never refer to her by her stripper name, even if it makes you chuckle
B. When eating hot dogs or cheeseburgers, always have extra condiments available. They all seem to really enjoy excess condiments for some reason.

3. Telling the truth is overrated. So is lying.

4. People unaware of and/or completely uninterested in geography and history are the biggest assholes you’ll ever meet. Not surprisingly, many of these people can be found in New York City

5. While in the streets, beware of Black men with dirty shoes, Black women with their first names displayed anywhere on their bodies, White women wearing any clothing that can be purchased at Rainbow, and White men rocking fatigues for any reason whatsoever.

6. Making fun of yourself first gives you a free pass to make fun of anyone else without feeling bad

7. It’s okay to make faces at the phone and scream to yourself after leaving a painfully awkward voicemail. Under no circumstances is it ever okay to call back.

8. Elitists are idealists with character

9. Don’t believe the cliches: Some people are much better people than other people, some people don’t deserve happiness, and, although there is someone for everyone, sometimes the world would be better off if they never met.

10. There is absolutely no correlation between “total number of tats” and “relaxed sexual standards.” On a completely unrelated note, it’s okay to lie about things like this if you’re trying not to offend a woman with multiple tattoos who happens to read your blog, especially if you’re trying to sleep with her.

11. Never trust a Hispanic latina/latino who doesn’t have at least a slight “Hispanic” “latina/latino” accent.

12. Two woman fist fighting over a man only accomplishes one thing: Letting everyone present know that this man can f*ck either of them whenever he wants to. Subsequently, if two men are fist-fighting over a woman, there’s at least a 97 percent chance that she’ll be sleeping with someone else within two months.

13. Every pessimist staunchly believes that they’re just realists. This is why most pessimists become drunks.

14. Don’t get disgusted with yourself if an unexpected person pops up in your fantasy. Enjoy it. It’s your fantasy and shit. They’re there for a reason.

15. The only time it’s okay to have an umbrella is if you’re wearing a suit. If suitless, just man the f*ck up and get wet.

16. If a cat is watching you have sex, make sure not to change positions until they walk away.

17. Grown-ups who say things like “high school will be the best time of your life” have shitty lives, and aren’t to be asked anything other than “Do you have that in extra large?”

18. You can have too many friends, but you can never have too many remotes.

19. People will only laugh at your jokes if they like you or want you to think that they like you.

20. You are a speck of dirt on the asscrack of time. A quarter of a splinter on a trillion mile long finger. A collection of dust, dirt, star afterbirth, and cake batter. Basically, you are not special. At all. But, do what you can to hold on to and take care of the person/people who thinks that I’m wrong.

I think I’ll stop at 20. Anything else you’d add to the list?

—Damon Young (aka “The Champ”)
Today, Wednesday, June 27, come hang out at the Penthouse Pool Club on U Street (didn’t even know this existed did you) from 7-10pm and get free food and free X-Rated Fusion liquor. Panama will be there hanging out and this is an invite only affair. You must RSVP and it gets you admittance for yourself and one person. Yeah, it’s that kind of affair. So peep the flyer, RSVP, and he’ll see you today for a cool ninja extravaganza. With free stuff. (This is not a VSB event btw, just an event that a VSB will be at.)
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Damon Young

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB. He is also a columnist for and EBONY Magazine. And a founding editor for 1839. And he's working on a book of essays to be published by Ecco (HarperCollins). Damon is busy. He lives in Pittsburgh, and he really likes pancakes. Reach him at Or don't. Whatever.

  • I live off of #3 and #6…yeah i might be an asshole

    • “6. Making fun of yourself first gives you a free pass to make fun of anyone else without feeling bad”

      This sounds like the career of every stand up comedian within the last twenty years- Louie C.K., Mitch Hedberg and Mike Epps, especially!

      • Jay

        R.I.P. Mitch

  • FIRST!

    • nillalatte

      NOT! LOL

    • thelonius

      Never run to claim First on the Internet if you are not sure you are first

      • Sweet GA Brown


      • +2

      • booooooooooooooooooooooooooo :) I was a very close second, then.

  • DAMMIT! lol. I’ll settle for 2nd.

    Also, #4 also applies to people from Picksburgh…any location outside of the Allegheny mountains that trap them in might as well be Mars :D

  • Alana

    This was pretty awesome.

    • Alana

      Wait, not awesome in the sense that it’s accurate, just awesome in the sense that you’re a nutcase and aren’t that far off if at all. LOL

      • GLB

        Every so often I think a variation of #20 and feel sort of awestruck. I wrote a poem about the whole “speck of dirt” thing when I was twelve and everything. Lol.

        My nuggets of knowledge:
        -Dance like no one’s watching. There’s a good chance people are too busy being self-conscious about themselves to notice. Unless, they like, notice. But do it anyway.

        -In general, be nice to people. Being mean takes more energy and kinda makes you feel icky inside. Usually.

        -Sometimes what you need to clear your head before working on important things (like your homework) is to watch bad reality television.

        • “In general, be nice to people. Being mean takes more energy and kinda makes you feel icky inside. Usually.”

          In my case, it makes me feel…dignified. I got a new job that pays good so I can treat people how I want, LMAO!!!

          • Iceprincess

            Congrats on the new gig PA! Now go to your corner. You know dang well that aint no reason to treat others badly. Wheres breezy? Lmao

      • GLB

        Lol I meant to agree with you and went on a tangent.

  • Raquell

    Yup, the speaker choices must be dismal :(

  • Pittsburgh!
    Land of Sheetz
    Land of Giant Eagle
    Land of STEELERS!
    Land of one Sudanese boy-smh
    Land of PNC bank
    Land of one Old Perverted FREAK-smh
    Land of ONE of THE BEST MEXICAN RESTAURANT, located 45 mins away, technically not Pittsburgh, but could count as part of it-for the heck of bragging rights, ON EARTH!! Not even the Mexicans in Mexico can top that ish!
    Land of pop
    Land of I can’t possibly be talking to an American abourr this, fah real?!

    Oh yeah, great lessons Champ!

    • miss t-lee

      “Land of ONE of THE BEST MEXICAN RESTAURANT, located 45 mins away, technically not Pittsburgh, but could count as part of it-for the heck of bragging rights, ON EARTH!! Not even the Mexicans in Mexico can top that ish!”


      • @ miss t-lee,

        Abeg! Mschew!!

        • miss t-lee

          I don’t know what any of this means, but I stand by my original comment. *snickers*

          • Giiiiiirl, this restaurant I’m talking about is run and owned by Mexicans. The food is phenom, and I’m sorry, but I do not think anybody, even their own in Mexico can outdo them. That is all!

            • miss t-lee

              Again… #GirlBye
              I live in a state that borders Mexico. I ain’t checking for any up North Mexican food.

  • Dignan

    The last part of #5 is dead accurate. I bought a house last year, and there was one house that I was interested in, but then I saw a couple of white guys wearing fatigues on the same street and I had to mark that house off the list.

    Also, regarding #11, there are some Latinos who feel about being called “Hispanic” the same way that Blacks feel about being called “Colored.” This isn’t universal, though.

    • “there are some Latinos who feel about being called “Hispanic” the same way that Blacks feel about being called “Colored.'”

      Very True!

      As an aside, I wish there were a list handed to every resident that stated what we can and can’t say or do to each other. Like “Don’t ever call a Jamaican mother’s cooking ‘so-so'” or “Don’t feed an Alaskan after midnight”

      • Njnear

        There isn’t a consensus on the terms. hispanic is defined as descendant from the spain or portugal. Latino is defined as ppl from latin america.

        I prefer latino, but its not a battle I fight every time.

        Which brings me another point, why do latin american studies courses fulfill nonwestern requirements?? Geographically, its in the western hemisphere.

        why is it called latin america?? Who speaks latin there??

        White people are fucking up.

        I agree with the hispanic accent thing. Hispanics with no accent only use their hispanic card when its convienent for them. Most of the time they are as friendly to brown ppl as the arizona state police. Either you are with us or against us, just pick a lane.

        • Yoles

          what is with this accent thing?? i don’t have an accent! i was born here and went to school here speaking perfect english, if i speak spanish i speak spanish and if i speak english i speak english, wassup with having to sound like speedy gonzales to be trusted?!?!?!?!?!?!?!

          • Lola’s Mambo

            Speak on it, Yoles! Why do I have to break out the Rosie Perez impression to validate my Puerto Rican-ness?!?! Does Bill Cosby get his black-card revoked for not talking like Gucci Mane?! Just… no. o_O

            • JessicaL

              Lmao, no but he does have a comical voice. Think back to those jello pudding pop commercials.

          • Njnear

            The accent logic is applied to same situation as in #5. “when walking the streets” implying when meeting strangers. This rule should be applied when conversation lead to latino influenced topics. If I meet you and we are talking about differential equations, it doesn’t matter to me if you have a accent or not. However, if you are trying to give advice on good Colombian restaurants and your spanish is garbage or your accent is suspect, you credibilty goes down a notch.

            • Lola’s Mambo

              @ Njnear – I don’t know that I agree with this. Is it the spanish itself or the person’s ethnicity that strengthens the recommendation in your example? If a Columbian girl that does not speak Spanish recommends a Columbian restaurant is the recommendation less valid? What if a black kid from Chicago who studied Spanish for four years recommended a Puerto Rican restaurant? Would his recommendation supercede that of the Columbian girl because he DOES speak Spanish?

              I just made my own head hurt.

              • Njnear

                @Lola, this usually applies to people you don’t know well enough or complete strangers. When meeting people, we give them five seconds or less to value their authencity. Authencity, I refer to the probability of the person being right/believable. In those five seconds, I consider all factors language, apperance, diction, body language, etc. I make a decision on the stranger’s opinion and I keep things moving.
                In your example, I would choose to believe the black spanish speaking kid over the non spanish speaking colombian girl because learned languages are usually done by immursing ones self into a culture.
                Bigger point, I know there are good latinos who dont have an accent (or have the switch) or don’t speak spanish. It has been my experience that those people probably arent empathetic towards their latino brethren. Could I be missing out on great people by following this rule? sure I can! However, if they are good people that I want to carry a relationship, then somehow it will manifest itself.

          • Lola’s Mambo

            Yoles, I am with you all the way. I was born here and learned english and spanish concurrently. I don’t have an accent when I speak english… and no, I do not use my hispanic card when its convenient, as mentioned above.

            To me, not being trusted for being a latina with no accent is equivalent to not being trusted for being a black urban professional who doesn’t use slang. Absolutely ridiculous.

            • Yoles

              Lola i agree completely… that ish cray… accentless english is a plus… and i will regard it as such, speaking a language in a way that all native speakers can understand me, will ALWAYS be seen as a plus… as for recommendations… food, music, clothes, art and all things deemed “latin” are still subjective and recommendations have no bearing on whether or not a person speaks the language… a mute person can recommend a restaurant!!! their taste buds work just fine!!!

              • Lola’s Mambo

                And we all joined hands, bowed our heads, and said “AMEN!”

      • esa

        hmm ..

        specificity defies poverty of thought. generalizations are for limp minds and lax imaginations. it’s exciting to be exact, just as it is honorable to stay silent. or you can say whatever you like and live with whatever you bring onn ..

        • Yes but generalizations about things you truly don’t give a sh!t about are helpful for freeing up brain space to be exact about things you do care about.

          Example: If I’m in Miami and you’re trying to sell me something, its a scam. Maybe not, but I don’t give a sh!t about offending people from Miami. So….

          • I feel the same way about street venders in NYC. My uncle loves to tell a story about how he once bought a VCR in NYC, got it back to the hotel and it turned out to be a box full of rocks!

  • Re: #16

    I had a cat do that to me once. I hope he learned a thing or two, the nosy MF-er!!!

    • Sweet GA Brown

      Please elaborate because I didnt quite understand that one.

      I typically only like to engage in activities where only me and my partner are the only living beings that can see or even knows whats going on.

      • Breezy

        Yeah because I didn’t get that one either.

        • Have a cat as a pet just one time and you will understand everything…

          • Sweet GA Brown

            But I would never have a pet in the room. But then again i am asking a guy. And we know guys dont care who or wants around when they smang.

          • WIP

            I originally thought he was saying “cat” as in slang for another guy. It made more sense to me then.

            • Sweet GA Brown

              Thats what I initially thought but changing positions and the actually being mid-stroke seems to be the same type of thing.

          • Breezy

            Since I absolutely hate cats that will never happen so PA, I need you or Jerome to splain. Thanks!

            • IncompleteSage

              He is saying that he had a cat watch him have schnoo schnoo.

              Thing about cats is they are IJDGAF City Mayors. All ob dem.

              So, they will often walk up and rub against you, or lick your arm/hand/leg/foot or even get in the way when you ROCK THE BOAT…_____(fill in lyric) as I believe the champ as implying earlier.

              It has happened whilst I was being praised before….*SN: I No Like uh Dem Catty Tingsuh

              • Breezy

                OH WOW!!! Thanks

                *crosses legs*

              • JessicaL

                Lol at your futurama ref.

              • b sweet

                I didn’t understand about 62% of your explanation


              • Yeah you have to have or be around a cat to understand.

                and lol @ IJDGAF City mayors!!!

      • Yes i’m talking about my girls pet, not a peeping tom lol. Though there was this one time……..

  • 21) The homeless know you’re weak making eye contact with them means you’ll end up giving them money a free meal. If you’re in Miami at the time proceed with caution, Miami homeless folk will jump in your car. Don’t make eye contact!

    22) Same applies for Jehovah Witness and Girl Scouts.

    • Classy6ft5

      I will gladly take a Watchtower ( just spare me the conversation) and buy some cookies though. So I’ll make eye contact with the latter two.

    • nillalatte

      Psst… lock yo’ doors! When the light changes, floor it! At home, never open your doors. Just look through the peep hole until they leave. LOL… you might wanna go easy on the girl scouts doe. They have good cookies… real ones… the baked kind. lol

      • Denying the Girls Scouts feels wrong because most of them are adorable and small. I can’t say no to a five year old with pig tails and no front teeth :( So every February I martix my arse out of the grocery store ’cause I ain’t buying 5 boxes of Somaos.

        • i usually dont carry cash on me so thats my excuse…if one of them whips out a smartphone with that Paypal or Square thing attached…im just gnna run lol

          • JessicaL

            Lmao, one time I went to the bank on a Friday to cash my check (most jobs Friday is payday) and the girl scouts had a booth set up right outside. I couldn’t even say I didn’t have the cash. The knew what they were doing. Crafty little devils, smh.

            • WIP

              LOL, just say no. “Would you like to donate…” “No.” :) I get asked too much, I don’t care anymore. The homeless people do tug my heart sometimes but these kids…nah.

              • JessicaL

                Lmao heartless.

          • WIP

            I would fall out if a homeless person presented me with a Square. And it’s totally possible because I see them with cell phones.

            • Lola’s Mambo


            • whostolethesoul1

              and bikes

        • Lola’s Mambo

          I thought it was difficult to turn down Girl Scouts because their cookies are laced with cracky goodness. Just me?! Oh. ::walks away whistling::

    • But you can’t pass up the Girl Scouts though. Those Mint Chocolate Chip cookies? F*ck around and ignore them- you’ll wish you had made eye contact then, LMAO!!!

      • Yoles

        thin mints are my fat girl favorites PA… its hard to resist

        • miss t-lee

          Best Girl Scout cookies ever.

        • Girl Scouts need to stop playing and put all of their cookies on the market- like right now!

        • The Girl Scouts didn’t even have those when I went grocery shopping that day and ran into them. I was forced to get Peanut Butter cookies from them- damn heathens, LMAO!

      • Lola’s Mambo

        @PA and Yoles – THEM SAMOAS, THO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! O_O

        • nillalatte

          They are called Samoas on the East Coast, Caramel Delights in the West. I call them 10lbs/box! They are my weakness. When I lead a troop, my whole damn garage was full of CASES of GS cookies. We ate cookies at every troop meeting, overnights, and camping trip we went on. I was SICK of GS cookies after those two years! But, I still can’t resist a box every season.

          • Lola’s Mambo

            Kudos to you, Nilla. I would never be able to lead a GS troop. I’d be one hell of a Tyrone Biggums mess! ::hominahominahomina::

        • Yessir, but why they had to go and stop making the Aloha Chips? I kinda liked those…

  • NomadaNare

    21. Men write love with their father’s pens. Forgive them if they write in crayon.

    22. Women read love with their mother’s eyes. Forgive them if they screw their noses.

    23. Never be afraid to be unpopular, those who seem amazing now will likely peak in high school. If you stick with your interests you’ll hit your stride around 25.

    24. Those that talk rarely do. Beware the silent man.

    25. Confidence and conviction will get you everywhere. If you’re ever uncomfortable or unsure in a situation, go with your gut and go hard.

    26. Prodigy is nothing but dedication at an early age. Genius can be achieved by all.

    27. What goes around comes around. What came around went around.

    28. Just because someone owes it to you doesn’t mean you’ll ever get it. Life isn’t fair.

    29. Trying too hard to be different makes you the same.

    30. Marriage isn’t between a man and woman, but between life and love. Those that fail where never truly alive or never truly in love.

    • A silent man can kill you in his sleep!! Silence to me is a conspiracy!

      • Especially if he happens to do one of those “silent but deadly” joints!

    • Beautifullyhuman

      These are really golden little nuggets.

      • Breezy

        Beautifullyhuman…beautiful picture!!!!!!

        • Dignan

          Beautiful +1

          • BeautifullyHuman

            Thank you Dignan :-)

        • BeautifullyHuman

          Thank you Breezy! I appreciate it. :-)

    • your #29 is everything

    • JessicaL

      I especially agree with 24,28 &29

    • Dignan

      23 and 26 are excellent.

      I spent several years living by 25, and it almost ruined me. Some people shouldn’t follow 25.

      I don’t fully understand what 21 and 22 mean.

      • Dignan

        Scratch that. I didn’t mean 23 and 26 are excellent, I meant 23 and 28.

      • NomadaNare

        21 and 22 refer to young people in relationships. Men learn how to be in relationships from their fathers. If his father isn’t there or is childish then he will be childish as well. Women learn to be in relationships from their mothers. If they’re too critical blame their expectations on their mothers. Both together urge the expression of humility and empathy in matters of love. How did 25 ruin you?

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