FUNNY WOMEN: Early Drafts of Aphorisms, Adages, Proverbs, and Sayings


When in doubt, revise. No one can recommend this enough. What you can say in many words, you can also usually say in slightly fewer words than that.


Final draft: An apple a day keeps the doctor away.

First draft: Consider the apple. Consider it daily. Pick the apple from a nearby tree, or otherwise purchase it. Eat it. As time passes, you will be filled with apples. We are pretty sure this is a good thing. In any event, it’s best to keep medical professionals at bay. Healthcare costs are prohibitive. We think, given the apples, you should be fine.


Final draft: When it rains, it pours.

First draft: As they say, when it rains, it rains a lot. Like, a lot, a lot. Many, many drops. All at once and for a duration. There is so much rain. And it moves in such a pouring motion.


Final draft: The early bird gets the worm.

First draft: Whenever you are late-night loafing, raising a ruckus and/or the roof, popping pizzas, popping tarts, trapped in a vise of your various vices—think, my friend, of the bird I am about to describe to you. Some birds are late. Some birds are later. But not this bird. This bird is early. Waaaaaaaaay early. This bird’s a fuckin’ freak! Up by 3 a.m., just cawing his goddamn head off, scratching topsoil helter-skelter, pecking for that sweet annelid fix. Lotta strutting. And hopping. Honestly, we think he might be on something. The way he gets those worms…


Final draft: C’est la vie.

First draft: C’est… c’est beaucoup de choses. En fait, c’est toutes les choses. C’est la naissance, la mort, et les secondes entre. C’est le jour qui passe, et passe encore. Le jour éternel. Le jour que j’oublie, et le jour que je ne peux pas oublier. C’est l’ennui. La tristesse. La joie. Le fromage. Le fromage. Le fromage. Brie, Camembert, Chèvre, etc. C’est la naissance, la mort, et les secondes entre. Combien de secondes? Qui sait? Personne. Je suis humain, donc je souffre. Je suis humain, donc je persiste et mange aussi du Brie. La vie. C’est ça.


Final draft: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

First draft: Have you ever snaked your toilet, just for fun? You would literally never do that. Your relationship with Trevor is the toilet in this overwrought metaphor—apparently operational, as long as you jiggle the handle, and in the event of overflow, leave the premises at once. Tbh my grasp on plumbing, and Trevor, is tenuous at best.


Final draft: Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.

First draft: Allow me to preface: It is olden days. We live in the way past and grant one another offerings of equine variety. In keeping with our epochal custom, I have just bestowed upon you one equine. Take heed: An oral appraisal of this equine will not be necessary. Whatever is the normal length in equine tooth—his are that length. Look elsewhere.


Final draft: Boys will be boys.

First draft: Then the Lord said to Cain: Why are you angry? Why are you dejected?  If you act rightly, you will be accepted; but if not, sin lies in wait at the door: its urge is for you, yet you can rule over it. Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let us go out in the field. When they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him. Then the Lord asked Cain, Where is your brother Abel? He answered, “I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?” (Genesis 4: 6 – 9 NABRE)


Final draft: This too shall pass.

Dairy draft: This too shall pasteurize.


Final draft: Birds of a feather flock together.

First draft: Look, there is no delicate way to broach this: We need to reassess the bird situation. The truth is, we are only just beginning to apprehend the full scope of the early bird’s narrative and the ostracism he faces as a result of his earliness. You see, the other birds, the tardier ones… they’ve turned their teensy, plumy backs on him, their downy rumps. It’s quite adorable, actually—that synchronous rump turn. How I wish it did not portend a haughtier ethos befouling the zeitroost!

Based on preliminary fieldwork, we’ve ascertained that the tardier birds have commenced congregating in a large group or drove—“flocking,” if you will. Also, we must never forget: A flock of tweets is another form of murder. In a brash display of togetherness, they’ve relocated their preening circle nearly five furlongs downwind “as the crow flies” (I’ll explain what I mean by this later…)


Final draft: One swallow does not a summer make.

First draft: …and the early bird, cast from his brethren, warbles a premature tune. It is June, the month of solstice, the month of lies. In this TED Talk I will…


Final draft: There’s no time like the present.

First draft: Honestly? They say tomorrow never comes, but you know what? Neither do I, and I don’t see entire schools of philosophy concerned with that puzzle.


Rumpus original art by Kaili Doud


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Brigid Ronan’s work has appeared in McSweeney’s Internet Tendency and Hobart. She is currently an MFA candidate at Oregon State University. More from this author →