I grew up without a dad, so I wish someone could have tell me these things:

6. Go left
The old man was an all-state basketball star in an all-white era. He taught me to shoot, pass and hustle. But in the drive-and-dish world of pickup hoops, what I needed was a left hand. When your opponent discovers you can’t go left, you might as well hang it up.

5. How to love running
I hate it. To be the kind of guy who goes out for a run to sweat out last night’s Jager shots, you gotta start early. And while dad’s “executive workout” (steam room, shower, cocktail) might help you tackle a case of the Mondays, it’s not the best long-term plan for taking care of the ticker.

4. Do more in college
When else in your life will you have that much time and freedom to actually put your education to the test and create something? Every college-bound boy not working for his tuition at the local pizzeria should finish his schooling with a body of work: short stories, mechanical drawings, a rock opera, something. Not just a degree and a taste for cheap beer and bad jazz.

3. You cannot win without a good quarterback
As a long-suffering Redskins fan, this has been a painful lesson to learn. My father died thinking his beloved home team was a linebacker away from a championship. He was wrong. Defense does not win championships. Mannings do.

2. Use sunscreen
The old man had a habit of burning himself to a deep lobster red at the start of every summer. He called it his base. And paired with a blue blazer and some go-to-hell pants, he somehow pulled it off. Following his lead, I spent most of my summers looking like a flame-broiled English tourist. A good tan, among other things, requires patience and protection. Which brings us to …

1. Never underestimate your fertility
My father actually said this all the time, but can you ever stress this point enough?

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