Rules to Live By

It has come to my attention that not everyone has a personal motto for their life.  You need one.  Why?  Personal mottos are rules to live by.  They are useful.  They can guide you when you are unsure of what to do.  That’s why we still say things like “don’t look a gift horse in the mouth”, even though very few people give horses as gifts these days.

If you don’t already have a personal life motto, here are some to choose from.

Life Motto Number One –  Life is Inherently Dangerous and Expensive  You may think

Like life: dangerous and expensive

you’re saving money and playing it safe, but don’t fool yourself.  Life is chancy.  Just ask this guy.  And, if you want to have any fun at all, you’re going to be throwing down coin.  Nothing you love is actually free:  spouses, children, dogs, travel, food, clothing, boats, retina screens.  You will pay the Simoleans.  No one gets out alive, either – even people who just stay home and do nothing.  Eat, Pay, Live.

Life Motto Number Two – Never Eat Half Price Sushi  I would think this is obvious, but I find myself trotting this out every

A better use for half-price sushi.

now and then.  You pass a salad bar.  “SUSHI!”  I like sushi!  And, in even bigger letters:  “AFTER FIVE – HALF PRICE!”.  Your pal wants to go in and eat.  Maybe you should let him?  Then he, too, will understand the wisdom of Life Motto Number Two.  It’s number two for a reason.

Life Motto Number Three – Don’t Use the Subway To Find Medical Services  If a doctor advertises in the subway, you don’t want to go see that doctor.  There are some who have advertised for many years, and are probably fine.  Example:  everyone’s favorite subway dermatologist, Dr. Zizmor  .  Others come and go pretty quickly, usually due to multiple malpractice suits.  Check out unlicensed proctologist, Dr. Tusch.  Sure, you can probably do OK with a subway divorce lawyer (“one-eight-hundred-D-I-V-O-R-C-E.  When diamonds AREN’T forever.”)  I’ve heard that subway psychics are just as accurate as regular psychics.  But medical services?  Stay far, far away.  That goes for subway dentists and “dental spas”, too.  That’s because of…

Life Motto Number Four – Don’t Skimp on Dental Care  There’s a time and place to be cheap.  Buy used electronics, pre-owned cars and designer clothes.  Paint your own apartment.  Let your roommate cut your hair – it’ll grow back.  However, your teeth are your

I don’t have my teeth, but what a great bargain!

friends.  Don’t buy Chinese toothpaste from the 99-cent store, and be sure to find a good dentist.  You would miss your teeth of you didn’t have them.

Life Motto Number Five – When You’re on the Road and You See a Red Lobster, Go There  This is one of Al’s, but it has also served me well.  Once upon a time, I drove from New York to Chicago in 18 hours, and I had to stop in a seedy motel in Toledo for the night.  This was before Yelp.

Dinner at Red Lobster…

Anyway, after carefully dusting the meth crystals out of the bathtub, booby-trapping the door and window, and spraying everything down with a good dose of industrial concentrated bleach, I decided it was time for dinner.  My choices were a gas station, Arby’s, The Lucky Horseshoe Windowless Bar, Chunkin’ Donuts (flying a little close to the copyright laws there, pal) when suddenly– shining like a beacon in the night – a Red Lobster appeared.  Now, I am not one to go to a Red Lobster voluntarily.  That

…or Moe’s?

night, however, it was bliss.  The well-lit dining area was air conditioned, the staff gave me a clean tablecloth and napkin, and brought a salad that was not wilted.  It  was the best dinner I had had in 18 hours, and I did not – repeat, did NOT – have to invoke Life Motto Number Two.

Life Motto Number Six –  Bad Screws Up Good, but Not the Other Way Around.  This may sound pessimistic, but it’s a useful cautionary axiom.  Think of German chocolate cake.  Chocolate, that most wonderful of foods, is mixed (by the Germans) with the foul ambrosia of Hell itself – coconut.  Does the intoxicating life-

Looks like someone vomited coconut on a perfectly good cake.

giving powers of dark, velvety chocolate surround and neutralize the horrid stench of the Devil’s Fetid Snackfood?  No.  It cannot.  As Lady Macbeth discovers, not all the perfumes of Araby can wash one flake of coconut into something resembling an edible dessert.

The same goes for people.

Life Motto Number Seven – A View is Worth a Thousand Closets  Al and I once owned a house.  It had closets in every room, and two of them were walk-in closets.  I could store clothes, shoes, pet supplies, whole shelves of cheap Chinese toothpaste and tubs of Costco bleach.  It did not make me happy.  A view of the river – now THAT makes me happy.

Life Motto Number Eight –  Everything is Negotiable, unless you are Negotiating with a Civil Servant  Don’t even try.  If you can’t manage Humble easily, practice until you get it right.  Angry doesn’t work:  I’ve seen apoplectic purple-faced mobsters shriek through the

If you have a view, you can ALSO use it for storage!

bullet proof glass at the Tow Pound when they realized their beamer wasn’t getting returned until they paid up.  It doesn’t work – it just makes the Civil Servant smirk a bit.  Go for patient and humble and apologize a lot.

Last and best – Never volunteer.   I’m not talking about working for free for a good cause – that, you should do.  I’m talking about when the Sergeant, the Teacher, the Boss, or Grandma says “I need a volunteer.”  It’s not going to turn out well.  Just keep your hands down, avert your eyes, and when called on, say “So sorry.  My family motto is Numquam erit voluntarius.”

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