Eleven rules to live by

Published 6:07 pm Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Follow these 11 rules and people will thank you.
Do not take off your dirty clothes and throw them in the laundry hamper wrong side out. Turn them to the right side — a small chore for you; a big one for Mom (or whoever does the laundry). This rule my husband and children learned early on.
Do not stick your finger in the socket into which you screw a light bulb. If you’re lucky, you’ll just get zapped; if not, I’d rather not mention the consequences, but it’ll be bad, and final — take my word for it.
Do not feed Fido chocolate. Most of us know this already, but if you don’t, chocolate can do to a dog what sticking your finger in a light socket can do to you. Chocolate can be fatal to dogs, and it isn’t good for cats either.
Do not chew gum in public. That’s a pretty big order, but if you knew how unattractive this practice is, and how imbecilic it makes you look, you’d quit immediately.
Do not, at the dinner table, use your fingers to pick up and eat your first slice of roast — wait for the second slice. This is one of my mother’s rules. When we children were growing up, roast beef was a favorite and served often, all pink and juicy inside. Mom had us, using knife and fork properly, cutting up our first serving of this red meat, but the second piece we were allowed to pick up and enjoy with messy fingers in the mode of our cavemen ancestors. There must have been an age limit for this privilege; I don’t recall. And, of course, if dining in a restaurant this rule is null and void unless you’re under the age of 3.
Do not tint your hair five different colors, walk down the street and get upset when people point and laugh. Also, there’s a chance some poor motorist will be so adversely affected he’ll run into a telephone pole. Now I’m not opposed to tinting hair, even an outrageous hue, but stick with one color. Ending up with hair that is pink, purple, green, yellow and chartreuse is gross.
Do not tell your mother you’ve cleaned your room when all you did was shove everything under the bed. Mom is too smart for that; she’ll figure it out, and then you’ll be punished and still have to clean your room. (Here in the South, I hear people say “red up” meaning to clean up. I can’t find it in the dictionary.)
Do not throw the cat in the swimming pool. OK, so cats can swim (doing the dog paddle), but there are very few that willingly take to water, even if they’re on fire. Dogs love to swim — at least most of them — but not cats. If you want to be sure of this, watch your cat scramble out of the toilet bowl the next time it falls in. No fair pushing it.
Do not do crossword puzzles in ink, even if you’re Mr.-Know-It-All. You will make a mistake, and you don’t erase ink (try White-out). Better yet, grab a pencil with a good eraser. Does doing crossword puzzles make you smarter? Probably not, but it could help increase your vocabulary. Which reminds me of a TV program I saw recently. Two brothers were racing to see who could finish identical crossword puzzles faster. One brother was done in a short time yelling out, “I’m the winner.” His chagrined brother looked at the completed puzzle and immediately saw that many of the words were wrong. When he accused the winning brother of cheating, that brother replied, “Well, nobody said I had to put in the right letters.”
Do not sew on Sundays. If you do, you’ll have to take out every stitch with your nose when you get to heaven. This is also my mother’s rule. I think she made up some of them. If not, I’m in a heck of a lot of trouble. That is, of course, if I pass muster and make it into heaven. But the good Lord forgives a sinner; we all know that.
Do not blow your nose on your shirtsleeve. That’s why handkerchiefs (and tissues) were invented. In early times, I understand buttons were attached to the wrist portion of military-uniform sleeves to keep the soldiers from wiping their noses on that convenient part of their clothing.
Eleven rules to live by, and I could easily come up with another 11 — even eleventy-eleven.  But observe these 11 and people will thank you.