A Fine Kettle of Fish

January 16, 2007

Recently I read the book ‘In the Arms of Angels’ by Joan Wester Anderson. The book is full of stories of hope and comfort, as well as goosebumps; everything from a survivor of 9/11 who met a mysterious stranger to a little girl whose angel caught her when she fell out of a window.

The author says, “It was written because, although I have done many books on angels and miracles, after 9/11 I sensed a fear and apprehension within the country, as if all the beautiful and hopeful stories we had heard and exchanged about angelic protection during the ’90’s meant nothing. Perhaps God had even abandoned us. Yet my mailbox was filled with evidence of continued heavenly care. I wanted to share those happenings. And so, another angel book was born.”

Author and lecturer Joan Wester Anderson was born in Evanston, Illinois. She began her writing career in 1973 with a series of family humour articles for local newspapers and Catholic publications, and was a monthly columnist for two national magazines during the 1980s. She has published more than one thousand articles and short stories in a variety of publications, including Woman’s Day, Modern Bride, Virtue, Reader’s Digest, and the New York Times Syndicate.

The following is a humourous piece by Joan Wester Anderson published in a 2000 issue of Reader’s Digest. I am sure you will enjoy reading it as much as I did.

Lately I have begun to think that many of my favourite sayings are simply out of date. That realisation came to me while I was stooping to retrieve a coin. “A penny saved is a penny earned,” I said. My teenage daughter frowned. “What does that mean? You can’t buy anything with a penny,” she stated in a matter-of-fact way.

“You’re missing the point,” I protested. But was she? Or was I? How many of the adages I grew up with have lost their meaning in this literal age?

Consider the time-honoured phrase “Killing two birds with one stone.” The last time I said that, my young naturalist neighbour was aghast. “You are not actually destroying our feathered wildlife!” he exclaimed, and stalked off. “Remind me not to let the cat out of the bag in front of him,” I said to my husband. “Or beat a dead horse”, he responded in kind.

Some beloved proverbs may even be in questionable taste today. For example, if I suggested smoking the peace pipe with my son, he’d lecture me on the health risks of smoking. And pouring oil in troubled waters sure doesn’t have the intended calming connotation every time a tanker spills its cargo into the ocean, wreaking havoc with the environment.

Of course, given how easy it is for almost anyone to get credit these days, a fool and his money are parted more quickly than ever. And after getting those purchases home, you soon realise that all that glitters is not gold. But for every slogan that seems tailor-made for modern life, dozens of others are destined for oblivion. Let’s face it, we won’t be able to cook anyone’s goose — it probably won’t fit into the microwave.

But I, for one, hate to see these favourite maxims kicking the bucket. That’s why I’m raising a hornet’s nest about it. I took at it this way: it’s a dirty job, but someone’s got to do it.


7 Responses to “A Fine Kettle of Fish”

  1. Looking at the length of the post, I again thought it must be yet another informative post. Honesly, I generally skip those reading till the end. Its nice ! Yes I like them… but I can’t take them for too long. 🙂 May be I get bored soon..! Sorry for this comment here.

    I really liked the above post & the daughter of the author who asked that Q was me some years back. I have that gaade pustaka with me & tried to understand what each & every gaade/proverb meant to be.
    I remember those 4 lines copy writing which needed me to practice my english handwriting & I still remember those ones. I am typing few here.

    1) Sit like a rock & work like a clock.
    2) Precautions are better than cure.
    3) Penny saved is penny earned(already stated)
    4) Honesty is the best policy.
    5) One in hand is better than 2 in bushes(has a very nice meaning which I loved when I learnt it first time)
    6) too many cooks spoil the broth ( I never wrote this on my copy writing since I learnt it after that)
    7) seven stitch on time saves nine (too good a proverb again)
    8) Old is GOLD
    9) Health is wealth
    10) something related to WISDOM, I am trying hard to remember this one, somebody pls help me…

    The list grows, I shall stop at this now.

  2. 8 and a ) forms a emoticon is it ? This is a discovery.. I wondered when it happened in vijay’s blog yesterday! Now confirmed.

  3. Funny to see my own work posted! I had completely forgotten about that Reader’s Digest article!
    If you would like to check my website which is devoted to angels, please look at the Archives where I have posted many original stories that never appeared in any of my books.

  4. praneshachar Says:

    Bellur as usual a very good post and it is amazing the author posting a reply hope it is not a scam. even if it is is great your blog’s popularity is very high and so many elite people visitin proves the quality and depth of your posts. keep up the good work and wish you great time
    post from reqader’s digest poses so many issues like generation gap will our adages go out of context etc., hope the wheel will come back and nothing will get extinct.

    today is “SRI PURANDARADASARA ARADHANE’ looking for a post on this from you and ofcourse from another great Usha
    hope both of you will not disappoint me.
    looking forward with anxiety to read on the great dasaru
    our salutations to one more dyan of karnataka sangetha and a great composer and whose works are applicable to the life of everyone and are simple to understand

  5. there is no a in between, its just 8 and )

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