The following are the kind of lines that provoke the response, “I wish I’d said that!”
Often, they’re tremendously profound and we feel envious of the author’s intellect, or they may be such amusing lines that we find ourselves wishing that we had the comedic ability to produce such hilarity ourselves.
Let’s ponder a few examples:
• “It’s useless to hold a person to anything they say while they are madly in love, drunk or running for office.” — B. Birdsong
• “Getting an award from TV is like being kissed by someone with bad breath.” — Mason Williams
• “A classic is something that everybody wants to have read but nobody wants to read.” — Mark Twain in The Disappearance of Literature
• “Love is an exploding cigar we all willingly smoke.” — Lynda Barry
• A college football coach explaining why his team had not won a championship since 1924, “Patience is our biggest problem.”
• “So much of what we call ‘management’ consists of making it difficult for people to work.” — Peter Drucker
• “Inflation is a lot like overeating: it makes you feel really good, right up to the moment when it's too late to correct it.” — Leo Aikman
• “Authors are easy to get along with if you like children.” — Michael Joseph
• Book review by Ambrose Bierce: “The covers of this book are too far apart.”
• “Everything is funny as long as it’s happening to somebody else.” — Will Rogers in The Illiterate Digest
• “People help each other through a crisis by each assuming that the other can handle it better than he himself can.” — Frank A. Clark
• “A lie may take care of the present, but it has no future.”
• “I wish there was something left these days that could be truly called unmentionable.” — Lark Bragg
• “The best combination of parents consists of a father who is gentle beneath his firmness, and a mother who is firm beneath her gentleness.” — Sydney J. Harris
• “Never go to a doctor whose office plants have died.” — Erma Bombeck
We all know the origin of the following quotes, or do we?
• “An iron curtain has descended across the continent.”
That one's easy, right? Those are the memorable words coined by Winston Churchill. Or, are they? In actual fact, the term had been around for decades and had even been used by Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi propagandist, who warned that if Germany lost the war, a Soviet-formed “iron curtain” would arise because of the agreements reached by the Allies at the Yalta Conference, behind which nations would be destroyed.
• “Go west young man.”
That famous phrase was not used first by Horace Greeley, as most of us have always thought, but may have been coined by journalist John Soule writing in the Terre Haute Express in 1851. But the phrase doesn’t appear in the 1851 in the Terre Haute Express, and may have been first proposed as the source in 1890. Whatever the phrase’s origin, Greeley publicly denied being the author of the words, but nobody listened.
• “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”
It was John Kennedy who thought that one up, right? No, it was Decimus Junius Juvenal (AD 60-140), a Roman poet/diplomat, who is credited for being the first to use this phrase. One of JFK's speechwriters simply borrowed the line for Kennedy’s inaugural address.