Lloyd Waters: The wisdom of paraprosdokians

September 30, 2012|By LLOYD WATERS

Sometimes I just plain get tired of all the political rhetoric and news that saturates my life. Sure, I know it’s most important that we get some working and knowledgeable leaders in office but I’m not sure where exactly we might find them.

As a matter of self entertainment, I came across a list of Paraprosdokians which sort of makes you think about a few things. Kind of humorous too in a way.

A Paraprosdokian. I’m glad I didn’t have that word in a spelling bee. It’s meaning? Well, according to most sources a Paraprosdokian “is a figure of speech in which the latter part of a sentence or phrase is surprising or unexpected in a way that causes the reader to reinterpret the first part.”

There, now that’s easy enough to understand, so you’re really apt to get confused for sure.

I came across an entire list of these paraprosdokians, so I thought I might share a few in the event Joe Biden wants some new campaign materials:

Why do Americans choose from just two people to run for president and 50 for Miss America?

A clear conscience is usually the sign of a bad memory. (Have any friends with that problem?)

Here’s a good one:

You do not need a parachute to skydive. You only need a parachute to skydive twice.

Some offer advice:

Always borrow money from a pessimist. He won’t expect it back.

How about this one?

Light travels faster than sound. This is why some people appear bright until you hear them speak.

War does not determine who is right — only who is left.

I’ve always tried to remember this next one:

Do not argue with an idiot. He will drag you down and beat you with experience.

Along that same line:

If I agreed with you, we’d both be wrong.

Do you know your fruits from vegetables?

Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.

Maybe the next one is on Romney’s and Obama’s list:

The last thing I want to do is hurt you. But it’s still on my list.

Bill Bonner offered some economic advice:

The entire world economy rests on the consumer; if he ever stops spending money he doesn’t have on things he doesn’t need — we’re done for.

How about this logic?

A bus station is where a bus stops; a train station is where a train stops. On my desk, I have a work station.”

Think about it.

I didn’t say it was your fault, I said I was blaming you.

For you lottery players:

Money can’t buy happiness, but it sure makes misery easier to live with.

Did you ever run into someone who didn’t have a lot of confidence? Maybe this was his line:

I used to be indecisive. Now I’m not so sure.

Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than standing in a garage makes you a car.


Will Rogers was fond of saying, “A fool and his money are soon elected.”

Winston Churchill had a good one: “You can always count on the Americans to do the right thing — after they have tried everything else.”

Another one:

There’s a fine line between cuddling and holding someone down so they can’t get away.

How do you define hospitality? Hospitality is making people feel like they are at home; even though you wish they were.

Will Rogers added a few more: “My party has no organization; I’m a Democrat!”

He added, “I don’t make jokes; I just watch the government and report the facts.”

And Herbert Stein offered perhaps the best advice: “If something can’t go on forever, it will stop.” So much for the wisdom of paraprosdokians.

Lloyd “Pete” Waters is a Sharpsburg resident who writes columns for The Herald-Mail.

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