I’ve been jumping from platitude to platitude my whole life.
My father started the trend with little hand-written signs displayed in his workshop. My favorite said, “Despite the Hopes of Optimists / The Facts of Life Persist. /He who turns the other cheek / Gets hit with the other fist,”
I stood on a step stool to memorize this, beginning my lifelong quest for a platitude with attitude to govern my decisions.
My mother took church sayings and morphed them to suit her needs. Thus, “See Those Christians, How They Love One Another” became “See Those Corleys, How they Love One Another”. She insisted people should thusly exclaim when we roamed the streets, usually at night while waiting for our father to pass out. Only my mother would entertain the warped notion that our neighbors peered through curtains and thought anything other than Those Poor Children, What Is That Woman Thinking?
So I got through childhood with guidance like God Only Gives You As Much As He Thinks You Can Bear (mom) and Always Play The House Odds (dad). Nana would extoll us to Make Your Bed Tight As A Drum, Neat As A Pin. I’m not sure I understand that one to this day. She would, I swear, come into our rooms and bounce a quarter off the bedspread.
The slogans got interesting in college. As I’ve previously written, my cousin Kati and I invented a few social rules and corollaries, such as The More You Go Out, The More You Go Out. I definitely lost track of my roots, including Do Unto Others As You Would Have Others Do Unto You, opting for the more flexible Run Like Hell and Don’t Get Caught during my hard-core single malt days. But nobody got hurt too badly, and I cruised into law school on the coattails of advice like C=JD, my favorite lesson from Dean Pascal Bowman’s welcoming address. Nobody believed him, though he certainly told the truth. Check out my email address; I got mostly As and Bs but a few C+ and came away with my degree. I’ve been ccorleyjd@something or other for decades, and @corleylawfirm.com for 25 years now, The maxim got me there and I’ve kept it ever since.
Lately, I’ve added a few rules of my own. For example, I have learned that When Somebody Attaches Strings To Something, They Usually Expect You To Pony Up. The flip side of this one is, If They Won’t Do It For You Without Extracting A Heavy Price But Do It For Somebody Else For Free, They Don’t Place Much Value On You. The note you hear in my voice might sound bitter but it’s intended to be rueful.
I credit Jennie Taggart Wandfluh for one of my favorite sayings. She taught me a long time ago that Angels Can Fly Because They Take Themselves Lightly. Her mother Katrina Singsen Taggart frequently told us Don’t Sweat The Petty Stuff and Don’t Pet The Sweaty Stuff. Problematically, most things in my environs either perspire profusely or seem insignificant by everybody else’s standards. It leaves me scratching my head, wondering where, or if, I went wrong.
As I cruise into the last one-third of my life, I contemplate the signs which I pass along the way. You Only Live Once flashes past time and time again, like the Burma Shave jingle. It might be true, so I’ll take it to heart. Interspersed among the Carpe Diems, I see something that touches my heart: Don’t Regret What You Did For Love.
That’s a doozy. I’m working on it.
It’s the twenty-fifth day of the forty-fourth month of My Year Without Complaining. Life continues.