By Jack Sparacino
Well finally, some good news from the rough and tumble language front: the Adage Re-visitation Team was successfully launched last month. Seven members, plus four backup players, ready to look before they leap into action at a moment’s notice. Their charter is to take a careful look at some of the most notable old expressions and sayings — adages — that most of us grew up with. Knock the rust off them, they were urged. Look under the hood. Kick the tires. Run them up the flagpole. And tell us which of them is basically true and which may be bogus. Talk about some heavy lifting!
We gave our team plenty of high-tech tools — an easel loaded with paper, colored markers, Post-It notes, scrap paper, a pocket calculator and a nice big wicker waste basket. Oh yes, and access to the library and the Internet. We’re proud to present their initial results.
1. Opposites attract, or birds of a feather flock together? Turns out the former sounds good, but it’s just not true and the birds have it right. Sure, we all know couples who seem to have some really interesting differences. But the fact is, lots of research shows that in GENERAL, with fascinating exceptions, couples tend to share basic values, opinions and viewpoints. They are likely to come, overall, from similar backgrounds, to share similar levels of education, and to display similar personality traits, related behavior patterns including hobbies, and even physical characteristics. Red Sox fans tend to pair up, for example, as do Yankee fans. So do taller men and taller women, maybe so they can see (you guessed it) eye to eye.
2. A stitch in time saves nine. Absolutely true, our team reports, though they felt the “nine” was probably very conservative. Highly competitive manufacturing companies spend a significant amount of time and money on preventive maintenance for a reason. Not to mention practically everyone who drives a vehicle. Sew there!
3. Cross that bridge when you come to it. We had an architect and a mechanical engineer on the team, so that helped with this one. Also three amateur philosophers and (ahem) a dentist. But they couldn’t agree on where the bridge was located or how fast they were approaching it, so the team went around in circles. Fortunately, the circles started expanding and eventually they came to the Woods Bridge and crossed it. Happily, it was lunch time so they took a well deserved break before getting back to work.
4. Actions speak louder than words. True, said our team. Then they asked to be reimbursed for their lunch. They claimed that action would speak louder than a mere thank you.
5. It’s not what you know, it’s who you know. Actually, it’s both what and who you know. And what people THINK you know. Say what? Who’s on first? You know.
6. Knowledge is power. You bet. The team also emphasized their belief that it’s as important to know what you don’t know as what you think you know. This was followed by a brief argument about power cords, power mowers, and what Tyrone Power’s best movie was.
7. Lightning never strikes twice. Oh sure it does, just ask the people of Haiti about hurricanes and floods. Or the people who have won multiple lotteries. Or our poor team leader, “Lucky,” who was bonked on the head twice when the easel fell over on him. (He cast the tie breaking vote on this one.)
8. Neatness counts. A resounding “YES” on this one. Neatness vs. sloppiness or disorganization, whether in a factory, a financial service, or a medical practice, for example, often spells the difference between success and failure. “A neat process or operation is better poised for success, in part through the virtues of simplicity as opposed to clutter, and cleanliness as opposed to dirt or contamination,” claimed one of our team members, Squeaky. (He was nominated to clean up the room after they finished each day.)
9. Never ask a barber if you need a haircut. Our team was hesitant to endorse any adage with the word “never” in it but they reluctantly agreed with this one. This prompted a discussion on hair do’s and don’ts and pretty quickly they all decided they needed to get their hair cut. One of them noted that “a neat haircut helps make a great first impression,” perhaps in an attempt to create a new adage, and a long break ensued.
10. One person’s trash is another person’s treasure. A big YES on this one, especially from those on the team who liked to watch “Antiques Road Show” and “Storage Wars” or go to tag sales. They were quickly drafted by Squeaky to help him clean up the room.