A friend of mine at work, whose sense of humor is very similar to mine, sent me an email last week with the title, Paraprosdokian. I had no clue what that meant, but was in need of a bit of humor (as usual at work) so I read it. The email started with the definition of paraprosdokian: "Figure of speech in which the latter part of a sentence or phrase is surprising or unexpected; frequently used in a humorous situation." For example, “Where there's a will, I want to be in it.”
Well, I guess my brain is wired for paraprosdokians, because there are a lot of times that somebody says something or does something, or situations occur, that make me think of things like these. Thankfully, I don’t have Tourette’s Syndrome, so I don’t just blurt them out, but there are times I need to bite my tongue and stifle a laugh. There have been many times that I could have messed up my life more than it is by simply saying a few words, a paraprosdokian.
Here are some of my favorites from the email:
Do not argue with an idiot. He will drag you down to his level and beat you with experience.
Maybe this is why my parents always told us to walk away from a fight if at all possible. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen intelligent people end up looking like a fool because they were goaded into temporary insanity by a master button pusher. Or a younger brother.
The last thing I want to do is hurt you. But it's still on my list.
Well, at least it’s the “last thing” they want to do, but you definitely need to be open-minded and keep all options on the table. Just the threat of being hurt, maybe by an older brother, can keep you in line sometimes. You know the famous quote, “The only thing we need to fear, is fear itself”? Well, I can tell you from experience that you need to fear an older brother that you just goaded into an argument and who was then punished.
If I agreed with you, we'd both be wrong.
Contrary to popular belief today, there is right and wrong. We are all wrong at one time or another– all of us. My parents taught me to stand up for what I believed and to not just go along with what someone else said, thought, or did. There are just times I cannot agree with something, especially if that would be the “politically correct” thing to do. Funny, though, that my older brothers thought our parents’ teaching in regard to not just going along with something should be suspended where they were involved.
We never really grow up, we only learn how to act in public.
How true. Watch little kids; they say and do whatever in public. Have an itch in a place that shouldn’t be scratched in public? No problem for a kid. Is that little booger just barely hanging on to your nose bugging you? They just pick it out…and then eat it. We, as adults, do some things, too, but first we make sure no one is looking. Or we make sure that we have enough time to escape without being identified after we pass some gas.
I thought I wanted a career. Turns out I just wanted paychecks.
Back in the days when I was young and ambitious, I wanted to be the big guy. I wanted to be a leader, to manage people and processes, to be one of the few that the many looked to for direction, guidance and information. However, two things happened that changed my mind; I had kids and I actually became a manager. The kids helped me realize that my job was not as important as I thought it was. In the grand scheme of things it meant very little, especially compared to how much they loved me. Becoming a manager, and the extra hours at work that came with it, just reinforced that realization. Just give me a regular paycheck with enough money to take care of my family.
I didn't say it was your fault, I said I was blaming you.
Some people are fault-finders. They need to figure out whose fault it was that something did or did not happen. It can be a long, laborious process that can make you half crazy, trying to tie events together to make your case. I prefer to simply blame someone else. There’s no research, no investigation, no logical thinking. Blame-shifters live happier, less complicated lives than fault-finders.
A clear conscience is the sign of a fuzzy memory.
We didn’t get away with much in my house. Somehow my parents usually knew when we were up to something. If we did happen to pull off a caper, they found out about it later. They could probably tell just by looking at us – we had the face of a guilty conscience. However, these days I realize that a fuzzy memory has nothing to do with my conscience and everything to do with getting older and the associated senior moments.
I love surprises, unexpected endings and humor – all the ingredients of a paraprosdokian. Life would just be too boring without them. Something small, like a humorous email at work, can change my day. A little laughter to break up the monotony is always welcome in my view. Besides, why do now what you can put off ‘til later?