Suit Yourself

A guy with a cigarette hanging out of his mouth like that would probably accuse an uninformed person of not knowing shit from Shinola. This would be under his breath so you would only actually hear the ‘ola’ part because he was a gentleman, if an opinionated one.

I thought about the many times I heard that phrase from my dad, a tough guy. Not a big guy or a muscular guy but tough the way that working in a commercial laundry for 10 cents an hour during the Depression would make a person. He was a guy who did what he had to do as we love saying now, especially since we rarely have to do anything as hard as slinging fifty pounds of wet sheets around all night long.

My dad had other phrases he used all the time but two of my favorites are “Live and let live” and “To each his own.”

He’d say these with a shrug. He had a body made for shrugging. You can see that in the picture, he was a slouchy guy with thin shoulders that rose up in a ‘What? Me worry? way whenever he encountered something different about people that made the rest of us think he’d have a reaction. And that was the end of it. Live and let live, folks. To each his own.

So my dad was a smart guy but no social innovator. He wasn’t extra-religious or religious at all. So where did he get this live and let live attitude? I think it was a cultural norm for him and maybe for his time. Right along with ‘it’s no skin off my nose,’ live and let live was about not caring what other people did with their lives, not making it one’s business to have an opinion lest people then feel entitled to have an opinion of you and your life.

I don’t know if this attitude was an artifact of the twenties and thirties or something unique to my dad. But I wish it would make a comeback. The psychic energy that would be saved by not giving a shit about what other people do would be enough to power half the continent. In the beautiful world that would exist if my dad was king, a person would say, heck, a Hobby Lobby would say, “Hey, using birth control’s not for me but if you want to use it, it’s no skin off my nose. Live and let live.”

I can hear him saying that and see him shrugging. Gosh, these old guys never quit being role models, do they?

5 Comments on “Suit Yourself

  1. Excellent post. You never said a truer word. I am exhausted with the constant uproar of someone being offended, or protesting, about trivia.

  2. It’s a kind of pragmatism, I think, possibly from being alive in those tough times, like you said. You got enough to worry about without worrying about someone else. My dad always said, “the harder you work, the luckier you get,” and “everything’s negotiable.” I agree–let’s try to find that again.

  3. I enjoy these post regarding my grandfather. He was one of a kind. In my eyes bigger than life. Thanks Aunt Jan for sharing your memories.

  4. My dad was an old fashioned German authoritarian. Almost everything was skin off his nose (and what a big one that was). But he’d have said when a corporation can get pregnant, then the corporation can decide what it wants to do about contraception. And like your dad, he sure could wear a suit and hat, though he’d have had a pipe dangling instead of the cigarette.

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