I Wish I had Said That

(Actually I have said that, but I was not the first.)

Greater and, sometimes even lesser, minds than mine have uttered sayings that have stayed with me over the years, and in some cases, changed my life or at least some of my attitudes toward life. Some are so simple as to be almost obvious, and yet they all bear a bit of profundity. I share them with you, including comments when appropriate.  (They will not be on the final exam.)

“Life is too important to be taken seriously.” Oscar Wilde.  (On a magnet attached to our refrigerator.)

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“I’m not the man I used to be; and I’m not sure I ever was.” Sammy Davis, Jr. (Dealing with reality can be so depressing.)

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“For years I searched for the perfect woman. Then one day I found her. Unfortunately, she was searching for the perfect man.” Groucho Marx.  (Now there is some real philosophy.)

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“Do the best you can with what you’ve got.” John Warren, my Principal at Downey Senior High School where I taught ages ago.  (He said it to me many times and I in turn said it to my students and to my own children many, many times.)

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“Tomorrow, tomorrow, I love you tomorrow. You’re always a day away.” From “Annie” by Charles Strouse and Martin Charnin.  (How did they know about my exercise routine?)

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“You are never guilty of a crime you did not commit; you cannot lose something you never had.”, Robert Penn Warren in “All The Kings Men.”  (This one dramatically changed my life–for the better.)

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“I did not come to America to eat grass.” By a dear friend who escaped the Nazis and is no longer with us.  (Although I was born in America, I share his disdain for vegetables and salads.)

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“Politics: from the Greek ‘Poly’ meaning many, and ‘Tics’ meaning blood sucking parasites.” Kinky Friedman, folk, singer, poet, and sometimes politician.  (A bit cynical, but I love it.)

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“Belladonna: In Italian, a beautiful woman; in English, a deadly poison; showing the similarities between the two languages.” From “The Devil’s Dictionary,” by Ambrose Bierce. (To my lovely wife: “Just kidding, dear!)

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“If you take away all the phony tinsel in Hollywood, underneath you will find the real tinsel.” Fred Allen, radio comedian long ago. (Probably still true.)

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“The first thing we do is kill all the lawyers.” Dick the Butcher in “Henry VI, Part 2” by William Shakespeare.  (A bit drastic!  How about just the ones who want to go into politics rather than working for a living?)

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“My whole family has been bothered by immigrants ever since we came to this country.” Senator Rawkins in “Finian’s Rainbow.” (I am the child of immigrant parents.  Unless you are a Native American, you are one of us also.)

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“Oh, dainty duck, oh dear!” Bottom the Weaver in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” by some guy named Shakespeare. (I had to include at least two quotes from old Will.)

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“Mann tracht und gott lacht.” Old Yiddish proverb which translates to “Man thinks and God laughs,” somewhat like Robert Burns’ “The best laid plans of mice and men . . .”

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“Grandchildren are the reward for not having killed your children.” Unknown source.  (We are fortunate to have two wonderful children, but there were times when . . .  I wonder if they ever had thoughts about us and wanted to  . . .  never mind.) 

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“I don’t give ‘em hell, I just tell the truth and they think it’s hell.” President Harry Truman.  (Elected Official speaking Truth????  What an archaic thought!)

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“It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.” The first twelve words of “A Tale of Two Cities,” by Charles Dickens. (How in the dickens did Dickens know what life would be like in the 21st Century?)