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Rusty Saber

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by Joe McAdoo

Do people still pay attention to old sayings? They may be called axioms, proverbs, adages and maxims, among other things. Sayings does it for me. Time was when people sort of used wise old sayings to guide them.

Most of us have generally thought it wise to save money because Ben Franklin coined the phase "A penny saved is a penny earned." Given the success investors are having in the stock market, this is still pretty good advice.

I have a hunch that Ben, sly old fox that he was, would be heavily invested in blue chip stocks. If he were to coin the phrase today; he might up the investment to more than a penny because he would want to earn a whole lot more than a penny on his investment.

You've probably heard the sayings: "A fool and his gold are soon parted," and "There's a sucker born every minute." If ever a couple of phrases were meant to put the brakes on me, it's these two. They protect me from telemarketers who try to catch me off guard with offers too good to be true, for instance.

I remember what can happen to a fool and his gold. I figure that the telemarketers agree with P.T. Barnum that a sucker is born every minute, which is why they're calling in the first place. These two old sayings help keep me and my gold together.

Should I be tempted to ignore them, another, less well-known saying comes to mind: "The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits." Since my stupidity is unlimited, I try to hold on to my gold.

At some point in my life, I don't remember when, I ran across a saying I stored away. It helps me keep my head on straight when I'm in a place like Las Vegas and when I'm tempted to play the lottery. The saying is, "He who gambles picks his own pocket." Words to live by!

I've a notion that people who run gambling games and lotteries abide by a saying, author unknown, whose subject is also suckers: "It is morally wrong to allow suckers to keep their money."

Although not exactly an old saying in the true sense of the term, this "quotation" by football legend Vince Lombardi should become a standard old saying and should guide every person who works for someone else: "If you aren't fired with enthusiasm, you will be fired with enthusiasm." (Think about this one.)

The late magazine tycoon, Malcolm Forbes, added to that the need for employees to be excited about what they do. He said, "Men who never get carried away should be." And most bosses I've known probably don't realize it, but they seem to abide by a saying coined by none other than James Hoffa, a saying that might be inscribed on his tombstone if he had one: "I have my faults, but being wrong ain't one of them."

No doubt about it, some old sayings can be helpful hints for living. But what happens when sayings we believe to be true actually conflict with each other. You may think I jest. We'll see about that. How about, "Absence makes the heart grow fonder," and "Out of sight, out of mind"? They can't both be right. Which is it?

Any serviceman who received the dreaded "Dear John letter," would probably say that it's definitely the out of sight business that leads to the out of mind business. I have an idea that the absence/heart grows fonder saying should be updated to reflect the fickle times in which we live. Let's change it to "Absence makes the heart grow terminally absent."

Two other well-known sayings clash: "Opposites attract," and "Birds of a feather will flock together." Which of these two should guide a person seeking a mate? I'll tell you what I think; I think the divorce courts are full of opposites who attracted. My advice, forget the opposites attracting stuff; look for a bird with similar feathers.

It isn't just spouses; I don't think we look for friends who are our opposites. I've never heard anyone say: "I really like my friends. I don't have a single thing in common with any of them."

Perhaps I should have read this particular old saying before writing this column: "Wise men make proverbs but fools repeat them."

(Editor's note: Joe McAdoo will appear on "Springfield Scene" with Bob Edwards to discuss his book, "McAdoo About Nothing." The show will air at 10 a.m. Feb. 21 and 6:30 p.m. Feb. 22 on cable Channel 36.)

(Joe McAdoo is former chairman of the communication department at Drury College and a Springfield public relations consultant.)

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