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Adages are buls***.

It took me a long time to realize this. But it’s true. An apple a day doesn’t keep the doctor away. The early bird doesn’t always get the worm. Early to bed and early to rise is a depressing way to go through life.

Motivational blather is also bulls***. Not always, but often. Ever listen to a high school or college coach talk to a group of people? My God—what crap. “This isn’t about winning! This isn’t about reputation! This is about … pride!”

Come to think of it, I have a special place in my black heart for high school coaches. It probably started back in 1989, when I was the sports editor of my high school newspaper, The Chieftain. I decided to write a report card of the Mahopac High Indians varsity hoops team. Lou Hanner and Rock Oubina got As, Larry Glover a B, so on and so on. When the piece ran, I received a call from Gerry Keevins, the athletic director/football coach. “Come see me in my office, Jeff,” he said. “It’s important.” Upon arriving, Mr. Keevins ripped me a new one. “Here at Mahopac, we’re all about passion and pride!” he said. “That’s our motto—passion and pride. What you wrote … blah, blah, blah, blah.” Mr. Keevins was probably about, oh, 55. I was 18. Yet despite our age difference and my life inexperience, I knew even then that he was a cliche-slinging, tough-talking, guts-and-glory buffoon; the type of guy who, literally, believed in the differences between winners and losers (and that those differences manifested themselves on the gridiron). And I was right.

Truth is, sports are not a metaphor for life. I mean, I suppose they can be. But so is drinking, say, soda. Really, it is. The can represents The Man. The liquid is society. The Man holds in society. Or how about this—farts. Farts represent life. You hold it in, no good. But if you let it go—if you let your emotions go—you’re much healthier. It might not always make everyone happy, but …
Once again, I’m babbling. But I’m right. Adages are sort of like religion. Over the centuries, religious doctrine has been repeated often enough that we accept it as fact. The same goes for adages. We’ve heard adages enough times that, eventually, our brain accepts them as reality.


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