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Wiseguy, eh?

by Stephen Lautens


XXX

May 19, 2000

By now there are a couple zillion books about how to apply simple rules to our complicated lives. It started with Robert Fulghum's best selling book: "All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten".

You know, things like: if you make a mess, clean it up. Share with others. A nap does you good. All those little life lessons that we forget as we get older.

Then there are those little "Don't Sweat The Small Stuff" books everyone keeps beside their bed to help put things in perspective.

The captains of industry don't want to be left behind, so they have a slew of books on how to be a better manager. I saw one recently - I kid you not - on how to run your company the way Star Trek's Captain Picard ran the Enterprise.

I think they're all missing the best examples of both leadership and how to simplify our lives. I of course mean the Three Stooges. I'm thinking of writing a book called: "All I Really Need to Know I Learned From Watching the Three Stooges".

First of all, I'll admit that the Stooges are pretty much just a guy thing. It's a recently discovered scientific fact that the Stooge gene is only carried on the Y chromosome. It's right between the ones that like monster truck rallies and video games.

It's too bad, because there's a wealth of wisdom both men and women can glean from Curly, Larry and Moe (and, to a lesser extent, Shemp). To the casual observer they might appear to be bumbling idiots bringing chaos into an otherwise orderly world, but that would be a mistake. Their philosophy has a Zen-like quality we can all benefit from.

Here's a sample:

Sometimes the only answer to a stupid question is a poke in the eye or a slap on the head.

You don't need a lot of brains to succeed - a hard head can open many doors that being smart can't.

The world is full of knuckleheads. You're better off not realizing you may be one of them.

Being hit on the head with a hammer isn't funny - unless it happens to someone else. Then, it's really funny.

Enthusiasm sometimes counts for more than skill.

If you intend to be a leader (like Moe) it helps to surround yourself with people dumber than you - if you can find them. Remember, you don't have to be smart to lead other people, just marginally smarter.

Never doubt your own abilities, even when all the evidence is to the contrary. This is reflected in my own family motto: "Always Certain - Sometimes Wrong".

Painting someone's tongue black will be remembered longer than a witty comeback.

In the wrong hands even the simplest task can go horribly wrong (especially plumbing, pest extermination, dog washing and baby sitting).

Even rich society women enjoy a good pie fight.

Dental care is unnecessary, as long as you have a doorknob and a length of string. Or pliers and a firecracker. And a friend willing to use them on you.

And always remember, physical pain goes away, but laughter is forever.

XXX

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