It’s no wonder so may folks have grown so cynical and mistrustful of everything they hear. From day one their elders have been force-feeding them adages, homilies and platitudes that are demonstrably bogus. Allow me to debunk a few here.
Beggars can’t be choosers. Oh yes they can. Give a panhandler a nickel and he’s liable to throw it back in your face.
Absence makes the heart grow fonder. Anyone who’s ever tried to sustain a long distance romance knows this to be false.
To err is human, to forgive is divine. Granted, people do make lots of mistakes. My wife has every single blunder of mine catalogued in her mind. But we’ve got way too much forgiveness going on these days. Take Richard Nixon. He had the Watergate thing, which was pretty egregious. Yet to my mind, his Peace with Honor scam was far worse. 50,000 dead and having our mighty military trounced by a ragtag cadre of starving guerillas had nothing to with honor. Nor did putting the lone blemish on an otherwise undefeated military juggernaut’s record or allowing the filthy commies to overrun a nation we’d vowed to protect. Defeat with Shame would have been more accurate. Despite all that, his funeral was a stately affair. Bob Dole spoke eloquently of his statesmanship and achievements. Something like four ex-presidents and countless dignitaries paid their respects. All was forgiven, and that ain't right.
Do unto others as you’d have them do unto you. With most people, this is all well and good. But what about masochists and submissives? Do we want them doing unto us as they’d have others do unto them? Do we want them stringing us up from trees and lashing us with cat o’ nine tails; or making us sit in uncomfortable chairs and tell what useless sluts we are? Or forget about out-and-out masochists---what about those who gravitate toward abusive relationships? I sure don’t want to be treated that way.
A penny saved is a penny earned. I don’t even bend over to pick up pennies when I drop them. It isn’t worth the effort. In fact, many people have advocated elimination of the bothersome coinage.
Honesty is the best policy. Not always, I’m afraid. If you’ve seen Liar, Liar you know that. Surely Jim Carrey would have been better off not telling that busty woman in the elevator that everyone was treating her nicely because they liked her succulent jugs. And tell that to criminals who’ve been duped into leveling with the police and now find themselves at the mercy of horny cellmates. I am wearing your soiled underwear. Did you want to know that?
‘Tis better to give than receive. I used to take great pride in my generous United Way contribution, until I learned that the charity’s top execs were diverting the money to themselves. They spent it on fancy cars, gambling junkets and strumpets. Evidently others agree, as contribution levels have dwindled since these facts came to light. As for the obligatory gift-giving at Christmastime, my family members never seem particularly enthralled with my gifts---there isn't much selection on Christmas Eve, after all.
I’d challenge anyone to name a single adage that is above such reproach.
Here's one courtesy of my dear old dad: You don't need to be a bigshot. Better to be understimated so people will turn their backs on you. Then you can shove in the knife.
by anna at October 19, 2003 9:27 AM
What about "Once you go black, you never go back."
by Eviltom at October 19, 2003 3:34 PM
A buddy of mine had a good reply to that last one.
"It's true, I did once, and I haven't since"
by ChuckWoolery at October 19, 2003 5:41 PM
I love that one, Anna. I should put it on a card. People usually think I'm a pushover because I'm short, and that old stereotype about Asian women. Little do they know that I can be a vicious psycho when I feel like it. So I can give people the big screw, and then leave the card, and I would look so cool. Heh heh heh.
by jean at October 20, 2003 5:16 AM
Tom, I dunno about that because in my single days I never had that chance. Chuck, I've read your pal's quip twice and it is still puzzling me. Did he become a monk after his black encounter? Jean, glad to be of assistance. My dad really did say that, but the problem is that it's too long-winded to be a real truism. They always have to be short and catchy and therein lies the problem in my opinion. It's like sound bite politics.
by anna at October 20, 2003 6:44 AM
All things in moderation.
by chris at October 20, 2003 11:18 AM
Nothing can go faster than the speed of light.
Mass is neither created nor destroyed.
At absolute zero all motion stops.
For every action there is an opposite and equal reaction.
Ok, maybe those aren't adages. For some reason the following phrase popped into my head this morning, "Inability to prove falsehood, does not mean truth." Of course I was thinking about politics, but the converse applies to adages. Truth is not a constant, it's the result of variables. Perhaps adages are more like functions which return certain sets of values for most inputs. In other words usefulness and insight can still be found using rules that are not always true. We're good at handling information like that.
by chris at October 20, 2003 11:42 AM
No, he slept with 1 black girl and has never slept with another (black girl).
Didn't become a monk though... married with a couple kids these days. Caucasian wife...
by chuckwoolery at October 20, 2003 2:10 PM
Oh I get it. I get jokes.
Chris I tried to articulate the point you made so well above but it wound up on the cutting room floor. As for the moderation, I mostly agree. But I had this revelation while scraping dogshit off my shoe for the umpteenth time (my wife trains them here.) There is no optimal amount o' dogshit to have stuck in the treads of your shoes, aside from none. And in social situations, a little really isn't any more acceptable than a smidgen. It still stinks.
Which reminds me of an adage a lawyer once used to describe his client to me: If you take a turd and cover it in gold and encrust it with diamonds it's still a turd.
by anna at October 20, 2003 5:24 PM
What about "No really means Yes."
by Eviltom at October 20, 2003 7:41 PM
There was a university that had a scandal here in canada a few years back (Queen's in Kingston, Ontario). The Engineers decided to make fun of the "No means No" date rape campaign slogan (against date rape, if I remember correctly)
They hung up signs like "No means maybe" and "No means yes", and the best/worst "No means punch her in the teeth"
If I remember correctly several engineering students were disciplined over that whole thing...
by chuckwoolery at October 20, 2003 8:23 PM
tom that's a saying?
were you on some of my dates?
by lajoie at October 20, 2003 9:18 PM
chuck you know what they say....
it takes a village to raise a child, and a bunch of drunk canadian engineers to make fun of taking advantage of women because it's cold and they were bored. and also they had no women.
by lajoie at October 20, 2003 9:21 PM
"No means punch her in the teeth." That's gotta hurt. But seriously, they didn't really say that. Did they?
by anna at October 21, 2003 7:02 AM
If I remember correctly they were real smart and put the various sayings on posters and distributed them across the campus.
I'm just looking for a site or news reference on the incident/scandal. If I find one I'll post the link.
by ChuckWoolery at October 21, 2003 4:50 PM
please i dey here oooooooooo
by jose mugu at February 12, 2004 5:01 AM