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The Measure Of A Man Is The Size Of The Thing It Takes To Get His Goat…

…that was one of mama’s favorite sayings. She wrote it on a small piece of paper, trimmed it with pinking shears (the kind of scissors that cut a saw-toothed line rather than a straight one), and mailed it to me at my University of Georgia address over 40 years ago. There was nothing else with it – no letter, nothing. I guess she figured I needed the advice. I still have that little piece of paper.

Clichés, proverbs, or commonplaces, as our brothers and sisters across the pond allude to short declarations of wisdom, “are among the most useful devices in rhetoric if you use them right.” That quote came from a Business Week article about a gentleman named Jay Heinrichs. He is one of the world’s leading students of Aristotelian rhetoric. Now that article I just linked is not a short one, but it is a great read if you are at all interested in why we spend our hard-earned dollars the way we do. It highlights a job he had with advertising giant Ogilvy & Mather in the UK. It was a challenge because it is especially difficult to get a point across to experts…they have to think it is their idea. Or as Heinrich put it: “Better to teach a man to fish than give him the fish.”

One of my favorite sayings is “Give a fool enough rope and he’ll hang himself.” I didn’t pick the gender of the pronoun “he”. My mama again.

Another favorite of hers, which she used all the time – even up to the end five years ago – was “This too will pass.” 

She was a great teacher, a wonderful storyteller, and obviously, accomplished in rhetoric. She knew how to get her point across with decorum and dignity.

If she were alive, she and my father would celebrate their 66th anniversary this month; and next week, I will share – in video – my father’s account of exactly when he knew he wanted to marry her.

Stay tuned and have a safe Easter weekend.

P.S. Your response to dad’s last performance has been incredible…muchas gracias.

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