… on following someone else’s recommendations


Proud Proprietors

A long time ago, I read a book by the writer, minister, drawer, painter, philosopher, sculptor, mango-cello player, ditch-digger, newspaper carrier, IBM salesman, and singing cowboy, Robert Fulghum.

Ya. I’m feelin’ it too.

I have got to get crackin’ on my life.

But the book was called It Was On Fire When I Lay Down On It and, in it, he had an essay that begins by saying, “What I’m about to say fits somewhere between the Ten Commandments and Murphy’s Law.”

It goes on to say he has a few recommendations to present – 9 to be exact – that are not as ironclad as the Commandments, but not as endless in scope as Murphy’s. He called them Fulghum’s Recommendations. 

I have loved this list of nine recommendations for a long time and JoHn and I actually tend to follow many of them. Probably more closely than we follow the Commandments.

Queue the lightning bolts.

But these recommendations are at once very simple, and complex.

They speak (well, in my mind they scream) of taking time, and smelling roses, and keeping the emPHAsis on the right syllAbles.  Here they are:

1. Buy lemonade from any kid who is selling.
2. Any time you can vote on anything, vote.
3. Attend the twenty-fifth reunion of your high school class.
4. Choose having time over having money.
5. Always take the scenic route.
6. Give at least something to any beggar who asks.
7. Always give to street musicians.
8. Always be someone’s Valentine.
9. When the circus comes to town, be there.

Mr. Fulghum’s recommendations might not fit perfectly within your own personal ideology, but that’s okay. They are just recommendations (he didn’t bother to chisel them into a stone tablet or anything).

Personally, I knocked out 3 and 9 right away (because, duh, high school, and also clowns).

But beyond that, JoHn and I still remember reading this essay, out loud to each other, when we used to pick books before a long ride and read them to each other (mostly the passenger read, for safety reasons, but not always. This, I think, was the mid and late ’80s version of texting and driving).

I should probably also mention that, more than anything, we liked to raid Granny’s stash of Harlequin Romance novels – the ones with renaissance-y paintings of models like Fabio on the cover.  We would get to the point, reading the ‘romance’ stories out loud, that we were both laughing so hard that we were lucky we didn’t end up in a ditch on the side of the road.

The phrase, “Depths of her femininity” still sends us into hysterics.

Yes. That was our favorite.

That is who we are.

But back to Fulghum’s recommendations.

There are two that come up a lot, when we get into the car.

One is ‘always take the scenic route’. This comes up whenever we can’t decide which path to follow to our destination. One of us will inevitably say “always take the scenic route” and, nine times out of ten, we will figure out which route that is, and we will take it.

The other?

Buy lemonade from any kid who is selling.

We do it, every time.

Have for forever.

But today, lemonade stands – once ubiquitous – are becoming rare.

Parents worried about their kids’ safety, wacko Boards of Health getting involved and trying to regulate them (yep, it happens), worries about the liability on the parts of parents, IRS scandals (okay, I don’t know of any IRS scandals having to do with lemonade stands, but you never know).

The world is a bit nuts sometimes.

But, once in a while, if you are lucky, you can still find one.

And yesterday, we did.

We took a ride with some pretty awesome visiting family members, and we took the scenic route, and it took us past a rather excellent lemonade stand.

And the service was so good, the staff were pouring lemonade into our paper cups before we even got to the stand.

Each cup was, we thought, fairly priced at 25 cents.

Especially because we even got a choice – “regular” or grape (we would have had another choice, but they’d had a run on ‘pink’).

We picked up our locally sourced beverages, and thanked our servers who – it also turned out – were the owners of the establishment, and happily posed for a photo.

We love knowing the owners of all the best places.

We waved to their investors, who were overseeing operations from a weathered front porch.

And we were all smiles as we headed back to the car.

As we were opening the doors and getting back inside, I gave JoHn one of those looks that each member of a couple can give the other after more than thirty years of being together.

Not a word was exchanged.

I looked at him, moved a muscle or two on my face, and he smiled back and nodded.

No worries at all.

He’d left a great tip.

Thanks for readin’.


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