I wrote this column in 2001, shortly after discovering my True Calling in Life.

© Mark W. Mayfield

My agonizingly elusive True Calling in Life finally revealed itself last week, after my son looked at his rapidly aging father and asked, “Dad, why do people get gray hair?” Without any hesitation, I brilliantly replied, “Gray hair is God’s way of telling kids to be nicer to their parents.” Isn’t that great? I made it up on the spot, off the top of my head. Even my wife was impressed. I realized right then and there that God put me on the earth to create wise old sayings that will help mankind cope with the trials and tribulations of everyday life.

Excited by my newfound True Calling in Life, I began to spew quotable wisdom at a furious pace. (Only professional wise-saying guys can correctly use words like “spew.”) At dinnertime, as I was barbecuing hamburgers in the backyard, I spontaneously made up this wise old saying: “Gray charcoal is God’s way of telling mankind that the grill is still WAY too hot to grab with bare hands.”

My next wise old saying was born as my wife unloaded the clothes dryer: “Gray pillowcases that are supposed to be white are God’s way of telling wives to carefully separate the laundry before washing it.” (For some strange reason, my wife didn’t appreciate that one. Sometimes I just can’t figure that woman out.)

Lesser wise men would’ve stopped there, but my overactive adage gland wasn’t quite finished. While watching the weather forecast on the evening news, I invented another wise old saying: “Gray skies are God’s way of telling TV weathermen that there’s a 60 percent chance of scattered showers on Monday.”

Finally, as I searched the fridge for something to accompany my midnight snack of chocolate-chip cookies, this wise old saying suddenly smacked me upside the head: “Gray milk is God’s way of telling mankind to check the expiration date on the side of the carton.”

In a single day, which future historians will call “Mayfield’s Gray Period,” I coined five wise old sayings that will endure for thousands of years. But that was only the beginning. During the following week, I gave mankind hundreds of additional wise old sayings. Here are a few of my favorites, categorized for your convenience.

Mark’s Wise Words for a Happy Marriage:

“A foolish husband demands a home-cooked dinner every night, but a wise husband knows when to say, ‘Let’s eat out tonight, my beautiful, hardworking little love muffin.’”

Mark’s Wise Words of Caution:

“Be careful because those gray coals are really, really hot!”

Mark’s Wise Words of Parental Reassurance:

“Breaking up with your first boyfriend is like losing your first tooth. That achy feeling of emptiness will soon be replaced by a shiny new molar.” (This wise old saying may need a little fine-tuning before it’s ready for widespread usage.)

Mark’s Wise Words of Parental Encouragement:

“Son, if number 24 continues to make you look bad, I swear that I’ll walk out on that basketball court and apologize to your teammates and coach for your inexcusable incompetence. Do you understand me, mister?! I didn’t drive over 300 miles to watch another father’s 12-year-old boy block every stinkin’ shot you take, and steal every stinkin’ pass you make! I’m not sitting on these stupid butt-busting bleachers to watch you miss easy lay-ups and wide open jump shots. Now get out there and play like a man! Oh, and remember, son, it’s only a game. Win or lose, I still love you. (Some wise old sayings are a little longer than others.)

Mark’s Wise Words of Environmental Concern:

“Who cares about the stupid Alaskan wilderness? I want cheap gas!”

Mark’s Wise Words of Patriotism:

“America, Love it or Leave it.” (Yeah, I know, that one sounds really familiar to me, too, but until somebody else takes credit for it, it’s MY wise old saying.)

Mark’s Wise Words of Comfort for Times of Unbearable Pain:

“If you burn your fingers on a barbecue grill, rub a little aloe vera on them.”

Feel free to quote my wise old sayings as often as you want, but don’t forget to precede them with this introduction: “A wise man named Mark Mayfield once said . . . “

After writing this column, Mark coined several brand new wise old sayings, which he may share in future columns.


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