I learned an amazing lesson so long ago, but I never paid attention to it.

It was 1987. I was working at a place called The Bear Bar.

The Bear Bar was at 2156 Broadway.

It used to be an old man drinking bar and then a guy by the name of Jimmy Goldman and couple other guys did what they always did with bars. They would take old man drinking bars and turn them into a trendy bar.

I remember The Bear Bar sweatshirt. The back said “not another trendy bar.”

Anyway, The Bear Bar was a fun place and I was hired when it first opened.

I worked Tuesday and Thursday and Friday night.

I made about $1,200 a week, which in 1987 was quite a lot of money.

Considering the fact that my rent in my Upper Westside apartment was $450 a month, I was banking quite a lot of money. No car, no expenses, barely any bills. Literally had more money than I even ever imagined.

I had the world at my fingertips. I worked three days a week while I was taking acting lessons, going out on auditions and trying to work on my acting craft.

It was glorious and it was fun.

There was a regular that came in. He was in his mid 40s. I forget his name, but we used to talk and I used to tell him about how I so wanted my life to be a certain way.

He looked at the way I abused my life at that time. He looked at the way I abused my body by drinking too much.

He looked at the amount of sun that I was taking in on the weekends in the summertime.

And he looked at me and said:

“The Youth Is Wasted On The Youth.”

I didn’t understand it at all. As a matter of fact, I didn’t get the message at all.

I continued to always wish that my life was better, even though I look back and my life was pretty easy. I continued to abuse my body. I continued to spend nights drinking until five in the morning. Laying in the sun with no sunscreen.

What did I know? I was in my 20s and it really didn’t make a difference at all. I felt like I was going to live forever.

I felt like nothing can ever hurt me.

I didn’t listen to the advice. I didn’t have mentors.

I didn’t even floss my teeth.

I didn’t even do that until I was 35 years old.

I look back at those years and I think to myself, man, the youth is wasted on the youth.

The things that we think about when we’re younger, when we’re naive.

The things we do, the risks we take.

The drinking and the partying that we do.

The endless hours out in the sun.

We never think about anything.

We hear about things that happen to people when they get older, but we never ever think we’re going to get older. We have that feeling when we are young of just being so invincible.

I remember when I opened my bar up.

I used to never bend my knees and I would literally take 20 kegs and I would throw them in to the cooler. I remember at night I would walk up six flights of steps with eight cases of beer. Never really protecting my lower back at all.

As a matter of fact, most of the stuff I did in my 20s came back to haunt me as I got older.

At 40, my back starting spazzing out.

At 48, I blew a disc in my back.

Things just started happening.

For the last couple years I’ve been going to my dermatologist and he’s been cutting out irregular moles.

They weren’t cancerous, but they had irregular cells.

He told me that, if we cut them out, we can prevent skin cancer in those areas.

You never know when a regular mole turns into cancer.

About a month ago I felt this pimple on the side of my temple.

I figure it’s just a pimple, but then again I never get pimples.

It wasn’t going away, so I finally booked an appointment at the dermatologist, knowing damn well that my teens, my youth, my 20s, was going to come back and haunt me.

Sure enough I found out the news that I never wanted to hear.

I had basal cell cancer.

They say it’s a good cancer to have. They say basal cell cancer is actually a curable cancer.

Basically, if you have to have cancer, it’s a good one to have.

But then again, the word cancer itself is such a nasty word.

I never thought I would say, “I have cancer.”

Even though it’s just skin cancer, it still has that word cancer attached to it.

So I went and I Googled it, and I read about it. My dermatologist told me not to worry about it, they would take it out and I’d probably be fine.

I’d have to basically cover myself with an umbrella and never go out in the sun again, which is fine with me.

And I had a 30% chance of it coming back in another spot.

I figured that, once I started cutting moles out anyway, they were just going to continue to dig at me for the rest of my life and I was going to change my name to Frankenstein 😉

Then again, that actually would have been good, because looking at some of the competition and some of the guys that teach men how to date, they really are the Frankenstein method because technically, they act like a bunch of robots a lot of the times anyway.

Any man that ever asks another man for things to say to a girl is really learning the Frankenstein method. So when I start getting scars all over the place, I might as well coin the Frankenstein method and run with it.

I tried not to freak out, I tried not to become over-neurotic.

And I started thinking positively.

Well, let’s see what happened. What kind of cancer did Hugh Jackman have?

So I found out Hugh Jackman had basal cell cancer and he’s had it come back six times. Six times he’s had to get it cut out. I’m thinking Jesus, how rare is that?

Turns out it’s very, very rare.

The bottom line is: all this could have been preventable… if I really had a mother who didn’t allow me to lay in the sun, who taught us the benefits of sunscreen, who told us that you can get skin cancer down the road.

But then again, is it really any different than anybody else? The person who smokes packs and packs of cigarettes and eventually gets lung cancer.

You know, eventually, the stupidity of your youth comes back to haunt you, the decisions that you make.

The heavy drinker that gets liver cancer. The person who has a bad diet gets a heart attack.

We’re all just human beings having human experiences.

We’re all just doing things when we’re young and naive that we don’t even think about when we get older. All of a sudden, we start to see things happen when we grow older and we get wiser.

Some of us do.

So now, I’ll probably never ever step foot in sunlight ever again. I’ll probably hang out only at night.

You’ll never catch me on a beach ever again. My days of swimming in the water are done. Is this extreme? Maybe, but you know what? Not interested in having any more red dots appear on my face. I don’t particularly like to be cut open.

And I certainly don’t really embrace scars. I kind of like the way that I look, the way that I am.

So once again, our actions of being young will always come back to haunt us, one way or another.

It’s the roll of the dice.

And that means you really have two choices:

  1. You can floss, you can wear sunscreen and you can play it safe, or…
  2. You can roll the dice and pay for it later on.

Either way, it’s your choice and it’s your life.

And however you choose to do it, that’s your choice.

Nobody — not even I, the great and powerful David Wygant — is going to tell you how to live.

But, from a former youth who’s wasted the youth, I’m just telling you: I think it’s pretty smart if you really started wearing sunscreen.

And really started thinking right now, how are you living? And when the time comes to pay the piper for you lifestyle at this moment, are you truly willing to pay it?