I distinctly remember a large Easter gathering: my Aunt Ginny stood, and seemed to speak for the entire Family (possibly the entire Human Race) when she said to me:
“If all your friends jumped off a cliff, would you jump off a cliff too?”
Without a millisecond of pause, I said (With an equal amount of volume and grandioseness)
“Does that mean if all Your friends did Not jump off a cliff, then you Would?”
I think that was the last time my Aunt Ginny ever spoke to me.
I think I was eight.
My reaction-response surprised even me, because it implied that anti is not always the answer. Sometimes everyone does things because it’s just the right thing to do, like eating oatmeal. (Ask Wilford Brimley)
Like many things that happen to eight-year-olds, I quickly forgot the lesson. But life is a persistent teacher.
Not too many years later, during a period of my life when I felt severely unappreciated and decided, in a fluster of rebelliousness, that I would run away from home. I talked this plan over with my good friend, The Gooch. He kindly volunteered the underneath of his stairs as a good place to sit tight for a day or two, and I could eat leftovers, of which he assured me there were plenty. My mom would worry and cry, and I would return home with a story of aliens or ninjas, (something I would make up while hiding out), and for a mere day or two of suffering, I would gain a newfound appreciation from my family, and probably sell the book rights later on.
I realized that I could get the same effect with a lot less work if I simply dropped a hint that I was thinking of leaving, (and I wouldn’t have to eat leftovers.) So, I asked my mother how she would feel if I ran away from home.
“I would be very sad,” she said seriously, “but I wouldn’t let you come back.”
“Um, what?” I asked, as my brain sifted through my finely-laid plan to come up with a workaround for this rather large loophole.
“Well,” she said, “if you weren’t happy here, I certainly wouldn’t want you to live here. Why do you ask?”
“Oh, just wondering ‘s all.”
When she called my bluff, I was reminded that rebelousness isn’t always the answer. Hey, even if I was unappreciated, the food and lodging were still better than the alternative.
How to Write Right
So you can imagine what I think when people tell me ‘how to write right’:
Don’t do [fill in the blank]
Always [fill in the blank]
And Never, Ever [fill in the blank]
For instance, ‘Never end a sentence with a preposition.’ What? Prepositions are wonderful things to end sentences with. I don’t agree that isn’t what they should be used for. As a matter of fact, it’s something I use lots of. In the Upper Midwest, it is something people are very used to. It’s certainly nothing to get upset about.
Most of this ALWAYS and NEVER pesudo-info comes from people with experience or authority in the matter. People like this for instance. Ah well, I suppose you have to sift through the ALWAYS and NEVER comments and realize them for what they are – Opinions.
I think the people who break the ALWAYS and NEVER rules and start the new trends that are accepted get hailed as the visionaries later on. Those who start new trends that fail are called crackpots.