Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Conversation with daughter-22

Daughter: I am a little confused with these proverbs. One tells me that ‘too many cooks spoil the broth’, while another tells me that “more hands make light work”.

Me: You mean like “the early bird gets the early worm”, but “the early worm gets eaten by the early bird”?

Daughter: I don’t get that, but what I meant was if “two is company, three’s a crowd”, how can “more the merrier” be true?

Me: You don’t question proverbs. And, they are not meant to advise you how to handle a situation. They are used to explain a situation after you have messed it up.

Daughter: Thanks. As always, you were a great help.

Me: Now get lost, you precocious brat, while I record this conversation, for posterity, in my ongoing dad-daughter-dialogue series.

A week after my daughter had this moment of epiphany, I picked up a book called, “ A Man of My Words”, by Richard Lederer ( Original price Rs 1073, special price Rs 249, You save Rs 824, Landmark Sale), in which an entire chapter is devoted to this subject. Lederer observes :


“A proverb is a well-known, venerable saying rooted in philosophical or religious wisdom. Just about everybody knows some proverbs, and we often base decisions on these instructive maxims. But when you line up proverbs that spout conflicting advice, you have to wonder if these beloved aphorisms aren’t simply personal observations masquerading as universal truths:

How can it be true that you should look before you leap, but make hay while the sun shines? It’s better to be safe than sorry, but nothing ventured, nothing gained. Haste
makes waste, but he who hesitates is lost. Patience is a virtue, but opportunity knocks but once. Slow and steady wins the race, but gather ye rosebuds, while ye may. A stitch in time saves nine, but better late than never. Don’t count your chickens before they are hatched, but forewarned is forearmed. Never put off till tomorrow what you can do today, but don’t cross the bridge till you come to it. There’s no time like the present, but well begun is half done. All things come to him who waits, but strike while the iron is hot. Fools rush in where angels dare to tread, but faint heart never won fair maiden….. Absence makes the heart go fonder, but out of sight, out of mind.

......So, all you have to do is figure out which proverb to use under which circumstances. Quite apparently, whichever side of an argument one takes, one can usually find a proverb to support it. That’s why Cervantes wrote, “There is no proverb that is not true”, while Lady Montagu proclaimed that “general notions are generally wrong”.

I wish I had picked up this book before I had the conversation with daughter. I could have impressed her with some scholarly stuff. After all, opportunity knocks but once. But then, there's no point in crying over spilt milk.

12 comments:

Usha said...

L'esprit de l'escalier!

and talk about great minds thinking alike or fools seldom differning - i bought the same book at the same discount!

vEENs said...

Very funny indeed.Ah! well, you can still stop your daughter and tell her all this, before she sees this book, exact para :)
Your daughter has amazing observation skills!

Raj said...

Usha, Thanks. I learnt a new French expression. And, I am shocked that you bought the same book at same discount. Landmark specifically told me that I would be the only customer to get that discount.

Veens: Will try my luck. Better late than never, eh?

vEENs said...

yay!! Go on.. You will have a post to write then :) conversation-XX

Revathi said...

ha ha ah a

Chitra said...

"You don’t question proverbs. And, they are not meant to advise you how to handle a situation. They are used to explain a situation after you have messed it up." Soooooperb !

dipali said...

Brillianto:)

பாரதிய நவீன இளவரசன் said...

//Lady Montagu proclaimed that “general notions are generally wrong”.//
sounds good; however, this is also the general notion! :)

Aaarti said...

That was brilliantly written... glad i came by your blog(was ref by my cousin)... Looking fwd to more...
:)

Aaarti said...

That was brilliantly written... glad i came by your blog(was ref by my cousin)... Looking fwd to more...
:)

Parul said...

Great blog...will be adding you to my Reader...I have a feeling that when my son is old enough to talk, we will be having similar conversations.

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