Samuel Johnson did lots of stuff. He published a dictionary in 1755, he wrote all sorts of things, in short, he was “arguably the most distinguished man of letters in English history.” I don’t know all that much about him to be honest, but I once dedicated a poem to him. Then today, I was thinking about habits because I recently came to a revelation about a sort of bizarre one that I’ve developed. Anyway, upon doing a Google search for quotes about habits, I found this quote from ma’ boy:
The chains of habit are generally too small to be felt until they are too strong to be broken.
There was also this one:
To fall into a habit is to begin to cease to be. –Miguel de Unamuno, The Tragic Sense of Life
Think I’ll pick up The Tragic Sense of Life from the library for the next time I’m feeling intellectual. I get what Miguel is saying about habits. That’s how I used to feel when I worked at McDonald’s or in factories or filing for a law firm. Once you get in the habit of doing monotonous labor, yeah, you begin to “cease to be” a little bit.
The habit I’ve noticed myself doing, though, isn’t all that dangerous…except maybe to my social life. So here goes. It’s kind of like those jokes where people yell “Your mom!” only completely different. My thing is, I find myself telling people about my mom…all the time. And it’s not interesting stuff, either. I just tell people stuff that my mom loves. At work last week, a coworker and I were talking about how Heidi Klum waxed Ross the Intern’s arm on Leno and how funny it was. Then, for no reason (except to unintentionally kill the conversation), I go, “My mom loves Heidi Klum.”
Other examples. My roommate brought a humidifier back to our apartment: “My mom loves humidity.” My Bulgarian neighbor offered me dried cranberries: “My mom loves The Cranberries…you know, that Irish band.” And comments like these, not surprisingly, receive no more than a blank look or an unenthusiastic, “Oh, really?”
This weekend I visited home. My mom and I watched In the Valley of Elah on HBO last night. And I got pretty excited because she provided me with a new conversation piece when she announced, “I love Tommy Lee Jones.”
My roommate said, “Your mom would be really happy if she knew.” And I was like, nah, she’d probably tell me to stop. You know, something like, “Stop telling people the least interesting facts you know about me.”
Anyway, if Samuel Johnson’s quote is true, this habit, now that I’ve felt it, is too strong to be broken. So, I apologize in advance if I happen to tell you all about how my mom loves cucumber sandwiches or how she loves to sculpt lifesize likenesses of Saint Michael.
Oh, and here’s that poem I dedicated to Mr. Johnson (I especially urge you to use the photo I provide above to help you visualize him in the south of France):
For Samuel Johnson
Not to toot my own horn playing the theme from Rocky
(soundtrack no longer available on Virgin Records),
but according to Philadelphian folklore, men with
high tolerances for confined spaces and neutral colors
are more likely to succeed in life, i.e. cubicles,
which of course all depends on one’s definitions
of success, life, and men. Everyone is entitled
to their own dictionary, but my predilection belongs
to Webster. Yeah, yeah: we all want to make babies
and vacation on a nudist colony in the south of France with Samuel Johnson,
but what about the creator of Dictionary.com?
Don’t try to tell me that women and men alike don’t dream of built-in thesauri,
translators, and words of the day, especially the kinky ones.
Take that, you abridged bastard! I know who your
mother is and word at the water cooler is everyone short
of Stallone knows her, too. I won’t mention word at
the vending machine (soda, not candy), but let’s
just say I wouldn’t want to be a product of
her poor excuse for 21st Century lexicography.