The Measure Of A Man Is The Size Of The Thing It Takes To Get His Goat…

…that was one of mama’s favorite sayings. She wrote it on a small piece of paper, trimmed it with pinking shears (the kind of scissors that cut a saw-toothed line rather than a straight one), and mailed it to me at my University of Georgia address over 40 years ago. There was nothing else with it – no letter, nothing. I guess she figured I needed the advice. I still have that little piece of paper.

Clichés, proverbs, or commonplaces, as our brothers and sisters across the pond allude to short declarations of wisdom, “are among the most useful devices in rhetoric if you use them right.” That quote came from a Business Week article about a gentleman named Jay Heinrichs. He is one of the world’s leading students of Aristotelian rhetoric. Now that article I just linked is not a short one, but it is a great read if you are at all interested in why we spend our hard-earned dollars the way we do. It highlights a job he had with advertising giant Ogilvy & Mather in the UK. It was a challenge because it is especially difficult to get a point across to experts…they have to think it is their idea. Or as Heinrich put it: “Better to teach a man to fish than give him the fish.”

One of my favorite sayings is “Give a fool enough rope and he’ll hang himself.” I didn’t pick the gender of the pronoun “he”. My mama again.

Another favorite of hers, which she used all the time – even up to the end five years ago – was “This too will pass.” 

She was a great teacher, a wonderful storyteller, and obviously, accomplished in rhetoric. She knew how to get her point across with decorum and dignity.

If she were alive, she and my father would celebrate their 66th anniversary this month; and next week, I will share – in video – my father’s account of exactly when he knew he wanted to marry her.

Stay tuned and have a safe Easter weekend.

P.S. Your response to dad’s last performance has been incredible…muchas gracias.

About Pam Avery Printed

I graduated from the University of Georgia in 1972 with a major in journalism (public relations) and a minor in business (marketing). My experience for the last 40 years includes working in the corporate world (banking), the newspaper industry (advertising design and sales), owning and selling a restaurant, restoring and utilizing several old buildings on the property, teaching private dance and drama lessons for 20 years, free-lance writing for a national textile firm, publishing two children’s books, and ghost writing a book. My last tour of duty before beginning the current chapter was working as a reporter, photographer, and columnist for five weekly community newspapers. And now I teach...media writing at Columbus State University in Columbus Ga. I consider myself very fortunate--I get to be around intelligent, energetic and enthusiastic young people. What a joy. I believe the written word is one of the most powerful tools known to humankind. And now we have the ability to reach millions with a simple click of the mouse. Wow.
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4 Responses to The Measure Of A Man Is The Size Of The Thing It Takes To Get His Goat…

  1. Ruth says:

    this was great Pam
    Ruth Downs

  2. RichensMa says:

    Major thankies for the article post.Much thanks again. Fantastic.

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