It’s 2013, and Dr. Barry Pascal has words on his mind. Not just any words, but those that move and inspire us–none of which, he reminds us, seem to have been uttered by any Member of Congress elected in the last 10 years. You can find Barry‘s humorous works for sale here.—EGF
I Wish I’D Said That!
By BARRY PASCAL, Pharm.D.
Humorist, Satirist, and All-Around Nice Guy
Have you ever said to yourself, or even out loud, “I wish I’d said that!”? Most of the time it is because a small amount of words express a mountain full of emotion, insight or wisdom. Many powerful statements have even become widely used expressions in our daily language. Some of the most famous ones are common teaching exercises for schools, universities, religions and parents.
“Love thy neighbor as thyself” has been an ethical and moral principle for the past 4,000 or 5,000 years. This concept of ethical reciprocity is referenced in many religions and philosophies, and is known by many names. (It is apparent, however, that the only place on earth where the concept is completely unknown is in the U.S. Congress.)
Did an ancient zealot think up that “love your neighbor” business one day while sitting on a rock, eating a piece of fruit? I doubt it. Great ideas like that need a nudge. Something must have happened, and the concept grew out of an incident. Could it be that 5,000 years ago a sleazy nomad named Morris had an eye for Barecka, the lovely lady living in the next tent? While his wife, Hardassness, was making out a list of chores for Morris, he wandered next door and found the lovely Barecka combing her hair seductively, drinking a cup of mulberry and sand infusion. I don’t have to tell you the rest of the story. When Hardassness burst in, Morris must have looked up and said, “Dear, we must love thy neighbor as thyself.” His words have been used by many civilizations ever since they first fell out of his mouth—but thanks to Hardassness, archeologists are still looking for his teeth. Regardless of why or who said it, I wish I could think of something that important and long-lasting.
The love of great statements and thoughts must be universal. We have many different words that reference the idea—aphorism, adage, proverb, quotation, cliché, epigram, and maxim, to name a few. I am not sure what they all mean, but I do know a great quote is a thing of beauty.
Our American humorist, Will Rogers, said many things that are apropos today. He was able to express what we all were thinking, such as:
A fool and his money are soon elected.
Our foreign policy is an open book—a checkbook.
—as well as:
The income tax has made more liars out of Americans than golf.
Many comedians and statesmen have reworked or modified many of Rogers’ remarks, especially the phrase
I belong to no organized party—I’m a Democrat.
As an example, Groucho Marx revised that thought when he quipped:
I won’t belong to any club that would have me as a member.
Will Rogers also had some great words to live by, such as:
Don’t let yesterday use up too much of today.
Make crime pay — become a lawyer.
Another one of my favorites is:
Even though you are on the right track – you’ll get run over if you just sit there.
Not bad for a hick cowboy from Oklahoma. I sure wish I had said some of those things.
Mark Twain was probably America’s first successful standup comedian. He was not making much money writing, so he took to the lecture circuit, where he became wildly successful. How could you not love somebody who said:
Age is an issue of mind over matter—if you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.
Be careful about reading health books –you may die of a misprint.
He also said:
Cauliflower is nothing but cabbage with a college education.
Many of Twain’s sayings have multiple meanings, such as:
Denial ain’t just a river in Egypt.
We have the best government that money can buy.
I sure wish I could have written some of that stuff.
If Twain was the first standup, then Ben Franklin was certainly our first comedy writer. His Poor Richard’s Almanack (now spelled Almanac) is legendary and his witticisms are brilliant and well-known. How about just a few examples of some of the great ones?
Honesty is the best policy.
A penny saved is a penny earned.
Time is money.
—and, of course:
When in doubt, don’t.
Which goes with:
Where there’s marriage without love, there will be love without marriage.
My mother must have memorized his almanac because I can still hear her saying things like “A place for everything and everything in its place,” as well as, “Take time for all things—great haste makes great waste.” I sure wish I could come up with lines like that.
I tried and tried to come up with clever, insightful, and brilliant one-liners, but the best I could do was something I once said to my brother as we ran to school:
If you saw it, why did you step in it?
That quote has great meaning even today, especially for Congress.
About the Author: Barry Pascal, North Valley’s former Honorary Mayor and Honorary Sheriff, owned Northridge Pharmacy for 32 years and is now retired. He has written seven comedy books and writes a humorous column for the California Pharmacists Association Journal as well as for the North Valley Community Connection. Barry is now enrolled in an adult night class at Cal State—Northridge: “How to speak without saying ‘UM’ all the time, and other great senior tricks.”
© Barry Pascal January 2013