I’ve always had an affinity for adages, axioms, maxims, sayings or whatever you want to call those expressions which are able to synthesize complex concepts into a simple statement. My attraction may have sprung from hearing so many of them from my father when I was growing up. As a kid, I thought these truisms were something he had made up. It was only as an adult I came to know that sayings like, “All that glitters is not gold” or “There’s many a slip ‘twixt the cup and the lip” had origins that predated Sam. But sprinkled among his aphorisms were some that I’m almost certain were coined by him: “Rich or poor . . . it’s better to have money.” How succinct! How Sam!
For a number of years, you could hardly have had a conversation with me where I didn’t drag out the chestnut, “To a man with a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” I have a feeling that my love of that phrase was the result of years of therapy. Had I been spoon fed that concept early on, with the money I saved, I probably could now own a small island in the Caribbean. But what’s past is past. (“There’s no use crying over spilt milk.”) In any event it doesn’t come up in my conversations much anymore (a healthy sign) although I do occasionally try to slip in a variation: “To a man with a hammer, everything looks like a Neil”. (This, along with my explanation of a toss-up situation as, “nine of one, three-quarters of a dozen of another” have yet to make it into our lexicon.)
I have to confess, I feel a bit shallow and uncomfortable writing about anything that doesn’t reference what’s going on in our country and the monstrosity that is the Trump administration. Which, as I’ve mentioned before, has been the impetus for my watching an unhealthy amount of MSNBC and CNN. But if there’s a silver lining (I mean a very pale silver) it’s that I’ve been exposed to a couple of terrific new adages that I’ve added to the folder I have on my desktop.
One that I heard recently came from Mike Lupica, a sportswriter turned sometime political pundit, talking about the chances of Mr. Trump changing in any significant way from the vulgar, amoral, mean-spirited and empty person he has shown himself to be into someone else. Mr. Lupica thought that it wasn’t possible and put a fine point on it by quoting his grandfather’s saying, “If you’re born round, you don’t die square.” Says it all, I think.
As maddening as the main character in this psycho-drama of our politics is, my largest frustration is with Congress, particularly Republican members of the House of Representatives who have proven that a worm has considerably more spine than they do. For most of these men and women, their job in the House is the best gig they’re ever going to have. Their self-interest is paramount and patriotism doesn’t count a whit. They are blind to anything or any information that might interfere with their holding on to their jobs. As my father put it, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.” Or maybe that was Upton Sinclair. Whatever . . .I know it was one of them.