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Paraprosdokians

Where there’s a will, there’s a way.  We’ve heard these words many times. If you really want to do something, you can.  Even though you didn’t do it the first time, try again. Try harder. Try another way.

            It’s one of those old timey sayings that most of us probably hated when our parents said it to us, but yet we shared it with our children and so it goes from one generation to the next.  It’s so old-timey, it dates back to 1640 when George Herbert wrote, “To him that will, ways are not wanting.”

            A modern version, “Where there is a will, there is a way,” was printed in the New Monthly Magazine in 1822, two hundred years ago.  About eight generations have repeated this saying and in recent times, comedians use it as a paraprosdokian.

            Paraprosdokians are figures of speech in which the latter part of a sentence or phrase is surprising or unexpected.  They are usually used in a humorous situations, and they create new brain wrinkles causing us rethink a statement.

            Where there’s a will, I want to be in it.

            Where there’s a will, there are 500 relatives.

            Where there’s a will, call me.

            Where there’s a will, there’s a family reunion.

             When Husband shared an article in Mental Floss magazine with me about paraprosdokians, I said, “A Parapro what?”  The more I read, the more I appreciated this thinking outside a box.

             Comedian Groucho Marx, a radio and tv personality of the 1950s, was a master of unexpected one-liners.  He uses common situations and surprised his audiences.   Room Service?  Send up a larger room. The husband who wants a happy marriage should learn to keep his mouth shut and his chequebook open.  I find television very educating – every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book. I’ve had a perfectly wonderful evening, but this wasn’t it.

            Other comedians have used surprise sentence endings. “When I was a kid my parents moved a lot, but I always found them,” Rodney Dangerfield said.   “The company accountant is shy and retiring. He’s shy a quarter of a million dollars. That’s why he’s retiring,” Milton Berle said.

            Winston Churchill often included unexpected statements in speeches. Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; it’s also what it takes to sit down and listen.  I have never developed indigestion from eating my words.   A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.  If I agreed with you, we’d both be wrong.

            We’ve all heard that we’re never too old to learn, but how about these twists?

            You’re never too old to learn something stupid.

            You’re never too old to fall off a horse.

            You’re never too old to play in the dirt. 

            You’re never too old.  Never.

            Make up your own paraproskokians.  Really, you’re never too old, assuming you have the will, there’s a way.

Old Time Sayings

Screen Shot 2015-06-04 at 8.26.44 AMMy lands alive! A firestorm of old expressions has filled my Facebook page. A couple of weeks ago in this column I wrote, “The very idea of paying good money ($125) to bring a rabbit across country on an airplane. Well, that beats all, as Granny used to say.” And then I posted on Facebook, “What are the sayings, the phrases, which your grandparents said and we no longer say?”

I pon my honor, it’s our responsibility to carry on our heritage, and that includes language for goodness sakes! My friends have shared more sayings than I can shake a stick at and I’m mighty proud to pass them on.

We all know of a man who’s tough as nails and Johnny on the spot. And when he married, he jumped the broom with his sweetheart. They made their home down the holler aways. Way back in the boonies. And if you took the long way to their house, you went around John Brown’s barn and back.

This young couple is probably as happy as a coon in a roasting ear patch. But the wife might be a bit scared – as nervous as a cat on a hot tin roof ‘cause she’d ain’t never lived in timbuktu with all the varmints. Sakes, alive! She ought to be happy. Their house is finer than frog hair and her husband, as honest as the day is long. Dontcha’ know he’s a right smart man. After all, he didn’t just roll off the turnip truck. Good Lord willing and the creek don’t rise this young couple will have a houseful of youngens. Maybe a towhead or two.

And we all probably know someone who doesn’t do diddley squat. His house is leaning toward Hodges and he got his haywagon catty wompomus in the barn. He can’t fix nothing right. He finagles his way out of problems. They say his daddy was the same way. You know the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Yep, yep, I’m satisfied that’s right.

When he was a boy and cried over spilled milk, his momma said, “Stop crying or I’ll give you something to cry about.” And when his momma had put up with his antics all day and had a snootful of him, she’d spank him and say, “This hurts me more than it hurts you.” Flitter, we know that’s not true.  Poor little guy, he was always wishing for things and his momma told him, “If a bullfrog had wings, it wouldn’t bump its butt.” And if he ever said he couldn’t do something, his momma said, “Can’t never could.”

And we’ve all seen women who disagree over something that don’t amount to a hill of beans. They talk out both sides of their mouths or out their elbows. Mercy me! That’s when I’m glad I don’t have a dog in that fight. I’m like the little boy who fell out of the wagon, I ain’t in it. Whatever floats their boats or blows their dresses up is fine with me. I declare to my time some people will fuss till’ the cows come home.

Thank you, friends, for reminding me of many expressions that I pert near forgot. Such is life, for goodness sakes. And I learned a saying I’ve never heard before: I wish I may never, since here I’ve been. Say what?