My Elderly Aunt regrets the current disuse by ordinary mortals, namely us, of proverbs in everyday language. Not the biblical Proverbs; presumably those will be around for awhile, but regular old proverbs like Don’t take any wooden nickels, or Never trust anyone over thirty.
All the people who used to say that last are in their 60s and 70s now, and refuse to trust anyone over 95, but that’s because 95 year-olds are notoriously untrustworthy.
My Elderly Aunt is sure that knowing all these old sayings will help when we’re trying to decide whether to take five hundred wooden nickels from some shifty-eyed stranger in payment for the exercise machine that we listed on the Internet.
My advice is to never take any money made of something that can be whittled down to make change, or will give you splinters when you sit on it in the cushions of the couch.
Young people don’t know old adages (which are the same things as proverbs except more educated), because they are learning to speak in initials and we have to ask them what they mean by LMAOROTF, or ICFMSAIMMC.
They don’t always tell us the truth about what these initials mean, because they are composing a code to enable them to take over the world.
They don’t realize we’re going to turn it over to them anyway, and go back to bed.
We adults, on the other hand, just want to have something to say in a pinch instead of the usual ‘Get over here right now, or I’ll give you something to cry about!’ when they spill their milk on the floor.
(BTW, the second set of initials stands for I can’t find my shoes and its making me crazy.’)
Some proverbs are dense and chewy like good brownies. You have to mull them over before you can figure out their meanings.
The road to hell is paved with good intentions can really put you off your Scout code of conduct, confusing you for the rest of your life. What happens if you have Bad Intentions, but good things happen anyway? This lesson is paved with potholes, if you ask me.
(We will need to request funding from the Highway Department, and I’m getting sick of constant road closures, but I’m sure the Department had good intentions.)
Familiarity breeds contempt, and we’re all familiar with our government.
Other proverbs have more obvious meanings such as, Blood is thicker than water, making you wonder who was thick enough to spread this around, as if he’d said something really intelligent. Thick water would necessitate bigger faucets, make running a tub a lengthy process, and negate compliments like ‘You’re a long, cool drink of water.’ What, are you calling me thick?
Then there are adages for catching a man like, The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.
Dorothy Parker told us there are less messy ways to get there. Or, perhaps she asked how you’d prefer to go, via the pancreas? Maybe she said something about beauty being only skin deep and who needs a beautiful pancreas? Maybe the Surgeon General said it, I’m not sure. I don’t recall exactly what Ms. Parker said, but she said a lot of things, some not very helpful.
A few were quite pithy though, like, You can lead a whore to culture, but you can’t make her think. This saying will not make you healthy, wealthy, or wise, like the one about knowing that a Fool and his money are soon parted, or Eating an apple a day keeps away the medical professionals, but it may help you learn what a horticulture is.
Some proverbs should have been taught right from the cradle.
If I’d known that Old habits die hard, I may have been more careful in my lifestyle choices, but this would have been after I found out that Money doesn’t grow on trees.
This would have helped when I was bringing home everything I bought with the money that was not growing on trees, but I kept putting the cart full of stuff before the horse, and he just wouldn’t push it home.
Other sayings are no help at all like, Where there’s smoke there’s fire. At first glance, this appears self-evident, until you realize how hard it is to start a fire in a wood burning stove.
We lived with one of these for two years, and the precept we lived with was, Where’s there’s smoke, there’s two freezing people missing their eyebrows from using lighter fluid. We never could get a decent fire lit, but you know what they say, ‘PMP, and, ‘IAFYDSTTA’.
For the adults who are on their way back to bed, these stand for, Practice makes perfect , and, If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, again.
I hope this isn’t Going in one ear and out the other, because Forewarned is forearmed.
Don’t say I didn’t warn you with a nice, cozy proverb.