Less of the proverbs, more of the footcare.
The proverb, “Familiarity breeds contempt,” was clearly invented by an idiot. And, the fact that I can so contemptuously make that statement about some proverb-making stranger only goes to prove my point.
Some claim the original writer was Chaucer, others claim it was Aesop, but nobody really knows. Which again, completely, proves my point. Because, if the Proverb-Making Stranger had more familiarity in his/her life, they'd have had someone bothering to record that detail for prosperity.
I am pro-familiarity. It gives a sense of belonging, of inclusion, of a weird kind of safety. Like when Mark and I are out walking Arthur, we generally bump into people from the area - some we’re friendly with, and others we’re only on polite smiling to - and I like that. It feels like community.
I'm not talking over-familiarity obviously. That’s a whole different issue. (I am still Scottish after all.) If our Proverb-Making Stranger had proclaimed “Over familiarity breeds the likelihood of a punch in the face,” I’d have no complaints.
And contempt is a very strong word. Yet I admit, I’m not a stranger to it.
Periodically, a grey colored cat that comes in our back yard and frightens the chickens. Just for fun. When I see that cat I am full of contempt. But that’s not because it’s familiar to me. It’s because that cat is a straight up douchebag, and everybody in the neighborhood knows it. (sorry, cat lovers)
Familiarity is something completely different.
I have a pair of black, leather, ankle boots I've owned for more years than I care to remember. I bought them in a shop that no longer exists on Oxford St, London. They were mine before I was married, before I became a Mum, before I moved to the Valley, before I’d even thought about living in the US. These boots have been in my life since before I had any sense of the three people I live with now.
Originally I bought them for stand up - which requires practical footwear: You want to be able to get on a stage easily, and get off with incredible speed (trust me) if need be. But over the years they’ve evolved to every sort of event footwear. They’re what I wear when “I’m not sure what to expect , so best be adaptable.”
They’ve been re-heeled a couple of times and are always in need of a polish, but when I open the closet and see them, I get that warm cosy feeling that comes from something familiar.
They’re stored alongside several pairs of high heels that are still in boxes. These shoes are a lot fancier and cost much more than the boots, yet I’ve barely worn them because they're so bloody uncomfortable.
Every time my eye catches the boxes, I think about how I should get rid of them. But I paid so much for them that I figure I should keep them until they pay for themselves. But they’re so bloody uncomfortable, I’m never going to wear them. So they’re never going to pay for themselves. (And what does that even mean anyway? Like what are they going to do? Get a part time job?)
Every time I see those shoe boxes, I contemptuously mutter 'What the Hell was I thinking?”
But truthfully, I can tell you what I was thinking. I was thinking, “Oooh I can't wear old stuff to a fancy occasion. I need something new and swanky.” It wasn’t that I was seeing my familiar stuff with contempt. But stupidly, I was worried some random stranger might.
One day during the Pandemic when I opened my closet, I thought about how the value of shoes had completely changed: What’s the point of any of them at all if you have nowhere to go? And even then if you are going somewhere, shouldn’t you be comfortable enough to experience it? Who cares what something looks like, it’s what it feels like thats the key. In life, you can’t always know to expect, so it’s best to be adaptable.
You know, I’m not averse to the old proverb or two, but frankly if Aesop or Chaucer or the Proverb-Making-Stranger had thought they needed to wear high heels to look important, the whole proverb-making world would have been completely different.
For a start, there’d be more along the lines of, “Familiarity breeds content.”
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