10 Simple Rules

I have a weird obsession with the U.S. President.

Not the current president, specifically. All of them. I love those guys. I’m the kind of gal who finds ways to talk about Calvin Coolidge at parties. (OK, seriously, why doesn’t anyone ever want to do that? Ask me about Silent Cal and Vaseline some time. You will not be disappointed. )

Calvin Coolidge.

I’m a Silent Cal kinda gal.

That’s why, when my dad surprised me with a poster of Jefferson’s Ten Rules, I was even more excited than the Christmas they bought me a dictionary. (That was not sarcasm.)

Jefferson’s Ten Rules is a list of maxims Thomas Jefferson found important enough to pass onto posterity. (The guy knew his posterity stuff.) It includes instructions like “never buy what you don’t want because it is cheap”, and “never trouble another for what you can do yourself”, although my personal favorite is, “take things always by the smooth handle”. How many sharp things did T.J. pick up before he decided we’d all do well to remember that?

I was sitting in the cafeteria last week, taking my fork by the smooth handle, when I noticed something horribly wrong with someone’s feet. Just like that, I was inspired to compose Stephanie’s Ten Rules.

Stephanie’s Ten Slightly Less Eloquent, Equally Important Rules

Rule One: If it’s less than 50 degrees outside and you’re not near a body of water, don’t wear sandals. Not even Jesus, a notorious sandal-wearer, wore them after August. (I made that part up. But I think I have a right not to see your gross feet in a cafeteria in October.)

Rule Two: Stay classy on Facebook. This is sort of a pet peeve of mine.

Rule Three: Recognize that some people are bad at social cues. Use your words! I can’t tell you the number of eyebrow wiggles I’ve tragically misinterpreted.

Rule Four: Make a clicking sound and use bicycle turn signals when you’re walking in front of someone. Better yet, don’t you think we should all get personal turn signals? Don’t tell me it would look weird. If everyone was wearing blinking headgear, no one would have any room to tease.

Rule Five: If you’re writing a screenplay, please, for the love of all that is holy, don’t include this line:

“The press will have a field day!”

Not only is it cliche, it always makes me imagine a bunch of guys in trench coats and fedoras running around doing three-legged races and playing tug-of-war. Hilarious, but not very accurate. This website lists no fewer than 21 movies containing variations on that phrase, and I promise you there are more.

Rule Six: Use exclamation points with extreme caution. Exclamation points are the mullets of grammar. A sentence starts out business in the front, then suddenly there’s a party in the back for no reason at all. If I see unwarranted exclamation points, I automatically start to read those sentences like I’m auditioning for a bad movie about cheerleaders.

Rule Seven: Everyone needs to see the Star Wars series once. You don’t have to memorize them. You don’t have to care about them. You don’t even have to like them. But you need to understand why some of us consider our Darth Vader Voice Changing Masks to be our dearest possession.

It’s made me a lot of friends…

Rule Eight: Thou shalt not play your acoustic guitar at parties, and thou shalt definitely not insist the other people present identify whatever song you’re covering. No one likes that game except you, Guitar Guy. And I hate to break it to you, but we don’t like you much, either.

Rule Nine: Stop Keeping up with the Kardashians. I wish they’d go away. I just hate their voices so much. And so does this news anchor:

Rule Ten: Don’t speak unless you have something to say. I’d expand on that, but… well, you know.


  1. Lorna's Voice

    I love the rule about exclamation points. Your line: “A sentence starts out business in the front, then suddenly there’s a party in the back for no reason at all.” is priceless. (And I’ll have you know I made a concerted effort to resist using an exclamation point in this comment.) ‘)

  2. shenanitim

    Rule Six is why Spanish is the world’s greatest language. Letting you know, right upfront, about how the sentence is going to end. Taking the exclamation party, Lionel Richie-style, from the ceiling down to the floor.

  3. gojulesgo

    “Exclamation points are the mullets of grammar.” That was the Best. Comparison. EVER. You’re so right. (So right!!!)

    If guitar guy is really good, and/or hot, I’m all for it. But I’m a groupie, not a role model. ;)

  4. Pushkin

    This is the site I come visit when I need an upper, I get the giggles and can totally relate to so many of the things you write about. You’ve got such amazing writing talent – thanks for “keeping it real” and bringing a big smile to my face. And yes, I am horrendously guilty of your “Rule Six”. I’ve had to use every bit of self control not to pepper this comment space with exclamations!!! *Bugger* Keep your work up on this blog – it is AWESOME!

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