Monday, December 10, 2012

Old Adages Can Be Wrong

I’ve always had a hard time accepting the so-called wisdom of adages, those short little sayings that are supposed to hold great pieces of good advice. To my way of thinking, adages are only there to see if I can prove them wrong. A few examples:

A watched pot never boils. Not true. I’ve tested the theory myself. Back when I first heard this one, I knew it couldn’t be true. The laws of physics don’t have an exclusion clause written into them that says I actually have to watch or they won’t work. Yet, for some reason, I had to prove it – if only to myself.

Being too little to reach the stove – or the sink – I scooted a dining room chair into the kitchen to make myself taller. After retrieving a pot, I filled it partway with water, set it on the stove, and turned on the burner. Then I stood by on my chair – watching. Sure enough, a few minutes later, the water was boiling rapidly. So much for the old adage.

A stitch in time saves nine. Really? How can anyone ever be sure? A stitch in time may save an unknown amount of stitches later but can we really put a definite number on it? And it may not save any at all. What if the stitch is done in a hurry? Ten or more may then be required to fix things. In that case, a stitch in time saved absolutely nothing.

A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. Not if you have a shotgun in the other hand. I’d say a shotgun in the hand is worth an awful lot of birds in the bush – or the hand for that matter.

You catch more flies with honey than vinegar. Okay, in the first place, no one I’ve ever heard of wanted to catch flies. What most people want to do is get rid of the flies – kill them. And a flyswatter does a much better job of that than either vinegar or honey.

Never judge a book by its cover. There is a billion dollar industry that constantly disproves this. Everyone’s heard the saying and still, everybody does it.

There are many more I could use to illustrate my point but I think you get the picture. The fact is I like to argue, to challenge conventional wisdom. I don’t feel complete unless I question things. Perhaps being obstinate is just in my blood.

However, my argumentative nature does have its drawback now and then. Back to my little test, where I left off with me standing on the chair. After the water came to a rolling boil, I was satisfied; too busy enjoying my moment to pay attention to anything else. I jumped down, leaving the chair where it sat and leaving the pot of water on the stove. And being a kid, I didn’t turn off the burner either. You can guess what happened next – and yes, I did get into a little trouble. But it was worth it. It all led me to come up with a little saying of my own – an adage, I guess. “An unwatched pot will boil over.”

Bruce A. Borders, author and songwriter, has over 500 songs and more than a dozen books. Over My Dead Body, The Journey, and Miscarriage Of Justice, his latest books, are available on Apple I-Pad®, Amazon Kindle®, Barnes & Noble Nook® and Sony Reader®, Kobo, Diesel Books, and Smashwords. For more information, visit See Bruce’s Amazon Author Page at or view his Smashwords Profile at

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