Each Wednesday I offer tips for adulthood. This week’s list comes from my late Grandmother – Grandma Boylan – a wizened old Irish lady with a quick wit and often acerbic tongue. She died about 15 years ago, but in my family we all still quote her regularly. Here are some of her favorite maxims for everyday life:
1. Hunger Makes Good Sauce. This is the most intuitive of the lot: if you’re starving, you’ll eat anything.
2. An Hour Before Twelve Is Worth Two After. I don’t think that this one really hit home until after I was in my 30s (which was perhaps around the time that I stopped routinely going to bed after midnight). But Lord knows it’s true. No matter how many hours you sleep, you’ll feel twice as badly in the morning if you go to bed after 12.
3. Smarty Had a Party and There Was No One There But Smarty. Translated: Don’t be a wise-ass.
4. Go Ask Peter on Duck St. I have no idea where this expression comes from. It means “How should I know?” as in: “Grandma, where are the keys?” To which she would reply: “Go ask Peter on Duck St.” when she had no clue. Fair enough. But who is Peter? And where is Duck Street?
And my all-time favorite:
5. Live Horse, Eat Grass. My father and I puzzled over this one for years. She said it all the time, and we had no earthly idea what it meant. And then I was reading the book No Country for Young Men by the Irish author, Julia O’Faolain, and right in the very first chapter, she used this expression in a way that caused me to finally understand it. It’s actually meant to be said as follows: “Live, Horse, and You’ll Eat Grass” – i.e., if you’re patient and keep your head down, you’ll eventually get what you deserve.
So there you are. And I am off to Finland as we speak. See you Monday.
Image: 12 o’clock by Nsub1 via Flickr under a Creative Commons License.