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Meanderings: Things people say… sometimes memorable, always readable

By Dick Martin

I love clever sayings. Imagine being the first person to say “The beatings will continue until morale improves.” That wasn’t just clever; that was genius! Even better yet, you can get it on a shirt nowadays!

Back in a time when people actually had time to sit and think about things, a great many interesting conclusions came about, mostly in the form of one-liners. Usually they were pithy and deep with several layers of meaning or at least several layers of application for the new verbal creation. I find it amazing and impressive that certain words/thoughts come into being and never to out of potential use, no matter how many light years away they were created. Some have known authors, some no authors and some, which are claimed by several different people as the originators.

Recently, I purchased a book entitled: The 2,548 Best Things Anybody Ever Said by Robert Byrne. It is full of interesting quotes that leave the reader to linger over the intent of the “thing” said as well as the meaning and circumstances in which it was created.

Among the collection are quotes to make you think and perhaps even to ponder life’s meanings:

“Reality is a collective hunch.” – Lily Tomlin and Jane Wagner

“Humankind cannot bear very much reality.” – T.S. Eliot

“Which is it, is man one of God’s blunders or is God one of man’s.” – Nietzsche

“Forgive your enemies, but never forget their names.” – John F. Kennedy

“A book must be an ice axe to break the frozen sea within us.” – Franz Kafka

“A committee is a group of important individuals who singly can do nothing but who can together agree that nothing can be done.” – Fred Allen

In addition to the pithiness the range of verbal inventors is interesting as well, including everyone from philosophers to comedians.

Given it is an election year, there are plenty of quotes which address votes, voters and elections and which are worth a second look, or read:

“ Truth is more of a stranger than fiction.” – Mark Twain

“If voting changed anything, they’d make it illegal.” – Unknown

“A statesman is a politician who has been dead ten or fifteen years.” – Harry S. Truman.

“Politics is a means of preventing people from taking part in what properly concerns them.” – Paul Valery

No profession goes without its critics, but some are more pronounced than others including these addressing lawyers, laws and courts. It is funny how some things never change.

“It is better to be a mouse in a cat’s mouth than a man in a lawyer’s hands.” – Spanish proverb

“Two farmers each claimed to own a certain cow. While one pulled on its head and the other pulled on its tail, the cow was milked by a lawyer.” – Jewish parable

“When you go into court you are putting your fate into the hands of twelve people who weren’t smart enough to get out of jury duty.” – Norm Crosby

“Divorce is a game played by lawyers.” – Cary Grant

Life is not without humor either:

“Cleaning your house while your kids are still growing is like shoveling the walk before it stops snowing.” – Phyllis Diller

“Is that a beard, or are you eating a muskrat?” – Dr. Gonzo.

“I used to be Snow White, but I drifted…” – Mae West.

“Someday we’ll look back on this moment and plow into a parked car.” – Evan Davis.

“Anyone who says he can see through women is missing a lot.” – Groucho Marx

“I should have been a country western singer. After all, I’m older than most western countries.” – George Burns

“The most dangerous food is wedding cake.” – American proverb

“Women are cursed and men are the proof.” – Roseanne Barr

“If a woman has to choose between catching a fly ball and saving an infant’s life, she will choose to save the infant’s life without even considering if there are men on base.” – Dave Barry

“She was so ugly, she could make a mule back away from an oat bin.” – Will Rogers

“I was the kid next door’s imaginary friend.” Emo Philips

“I don’t eat snails. I prefer fast food.” – Strange de Jim

“I feel sorry for people who don’t drink, because when they get up in the morning, they’re not going to feel any better all day.” – Frank Sinatra

“I drink too much. Last time I gave a urine sample, there was an olive in it.” – Rodney Dangerfield

“I really didn’t say everything I said.” – Yogi Berra

“Diplomacy is the art of letting someone else have your way.” – Unknown

Marriage quotes, naturally, amount to more than a few pages which run the gamut, including takes on marriage, husbands and wives:

“Marriage is like a besieged fortress. Everyone outside wants to get in, and everyone inside wants to get out.” P.M. Quitard

“The chains of marriage are so heavy it takes two to carry them, and sometimes three..” – Alexander Dumas

“All men make mistakes, but married men find out about them sooner.” – Red Skelton

“My wife and I were happy for twenty years, then we met.” – Rodney Dangerfield

“He gave her a look you could have poured on a waffle.” – Ring Lardner

“The only reason some people get lost in thought is because it’s unfamiliar territory.” – Paul Fix

These, of course, are only a few of my favorites from the book which pretty much touches on every facet of life including quotes from actors, politicians, presidents, comedians, both modern and ancient philosophers and on and on. Some are heavy and like a good steak take time to digest. Others make you laugh and still others make you rethink what this world is truly about anyway. Today’s sound bites don’t even come close to matching what used to be referred to as “words to live by” from the past. “Just do it” and “It is what it is” just don’t carry the same weight.

Greek philosopher Terence said in 187 B.C.: “Nothing can be said that has not been said before.” I’m not so sure about that, given the number of clever sayings that exist. There has to be room for more.

Maybe we just need more time to sit and think…