Once a very wise person said, “He who has butter on his head should not walk in the sun.” I myself do not know who uttered those unforgettable words, but I can only supposed it was someone’s parent.
Parents seem to have this knack for offering advice to their children and proclaiming it in such a manner that the youngster believes it. Unfortunately, when the child becomes the adult, he may interpret the cliché in a manner not at all the way it was intended.
For example, Zsa Zsa Gabor’s mom probably made a casual remark, “It’s just as easy to marry a rich guy as a poor one,” as they were strolling past a mountain in Hungary. Perhaps it was Echo Mountain, and the saying resounded through the hills. All Zsa Zsa could hear was “marry, marry, marry,” and she did, did, did.
My cuddly friend Clara was told repeatedly to “Eat over the sink.” The reason she was told this was to avoid getting crumbs on her mother’s clean kitchen floor. But somehow the point did not register. To this day, whenever Clara sees a sink, she has this awful urge to eat.
One of the most infuriating people I know is a free-lance bartender who practices psychology on the side. He has worked the top Hollywood parties and cured a lot of celebrities. But just because his rigid father advised him, “If you can’t say anything nice about someone, don’t say anything at all,” I have to suffer. No matter how I bribe him to tell me the raunchy stuff, he declines. He’s pathetic.
I myself, was brought up with false ideals as well. My mother always told me, “It is just as easy to do things right as to do things wrong,” and I bought that jazz. That is, until I was able to experiment in my own home.
One day I took the largest blanket I owned and attempted to fold it the “right” way. I took one end and walked it over to the other. I then creased it in the middle and folded it once more and then repeated the process a third time. One whole minute shot to hell.
I then proceeded to do it my way (the wrong way). I rolled the cover in a ball and squished it into the closet. Three- and-a-half seconds altogether, including closing the closet door on my thumb.
I am one of the lucky ones. One of my dearest friends is not so fortunate as to distinguish what applies to her life and what does not. Her mother continually gave her obscure messages, which accounts for my friend’s dazed expression at times.
With no apparent reason, and at any time of the day, her mother would make statements like, “Remember, Vilma, if you go in the back you come out the front,” and “If God meant chickens to fly, He would have given them wings.” Vilma knows her mother told her these things for her own good. She just doesn’t know why.
After watching Vilma search her psyche for the reasons for fronts and backs and flying and chickens, I’m thankful that I was able to separate what was true and what was merely cliché.
Still, every time I open a closet and a blanket falls on my head, I remember Mama.