Tuesday, December 7, 2010

On Aphorisms

I've made the semi-recent discovery that I am an aphorism whore. For some reason I love relying upon folksy phrases in order to express some ineffable thought or feeling, and I suspect it's my sole concession to being born and raised in this most folksy of states.

In fact, I've become so slavish to the aphorism form that I often can't remember if I'm stating one correctly or if it's filtered in through the Michigan air. "Why buy the cow.... if you can get... the milk for free?" I stated hesitantly Saturday night, trying to recall my sister's justification for not moving in with her ex-husband before they got married. Granted, that's not an aphorism that I use too often. But you'd think that someone as devoted to the rhetoric of aphorisms as I am would be better at keeping track of such things.

Recent incidents of aphorism use in my life include:

- "A bird in hand beats two in the bush." (describing hypothetical job offers)
- "He who hesitates is lost." (romantic anxiety)
- "Pick your battles." (Julian Assange and WikiLeaks)
- "It is easier to ask forgiveness than permission." (bad behavior at UMLS)
- "A rolling stone gathers no moss." (ok I don't exactly what this means but I think I used it to justify my overextended academic, extracurricular, and social calendar).

What's your favorite aphorism? And are there any that are MI-specific?


  1. Do stones want to gather moss?

    I really like "Wetter than 'n otter's pocket."

  2. You can't climb a tree (variant = pole) with grease on your thighs.

  3. quinn davis's great-gramma marguerite was full of 'em... some of her faves:

    he's going to hell in a handbasket...
    go ahead buddy, pass me...hell isn't half full.
    he doesn't know twice around the rat hole...
    he's still wet behind the ears...

    and they went on and on...just poured out of her!

  4. Lynne is right; they would fly out of gramma like a 707! Here are some of my favorites that she use to say:

    I am going to part your hair in the middle with a broad-axe!
    you have everything strewn from hell to breakfast...
    and my all time favorite...
    you look like Aster's plush horse...!
    I think that was a compliment, but now I am starting to wonder. :)

  5. my favorite:
    told to my teens many times!
    " I was born at night, but it wasn't last night!"