Special to The Windham Eagle
As I piloted my black Prius to the Cumberland Fair late last month I couldn’t help thinking of a particular old axiom.
Reputable sources maintain the phrase “Never say never” first appeared in print in a Charles Dickens novel that was published in 1837.
I’ve never read The
Pickwick Papers, but despite that gap in my literary knowledge, I think
it’s obvious Dickens intended the phrase as satire. After all, who seriously
says, “Never say never,” while simultaneously using the forbidden term twice in
a three-word sentence?
expressed by this familiar adage usually makes sense, but there are exceptions.
It’s perfectly acceptable when stating an irreversible fact that, given the
time-space continuum, cannot possibly change. For example, “Mother Teresa never
attended the Super Bowl” constitutes an inarguably factual use of the phrase.
It’s equally safe to declare “Mother Teresa will never witness a Super
Bowl,” given both the difficulty of obtaining Super Bowl tickets and Mother
Teresa’s current status (dead).
But stating those
three words in a declaratively predictive manner, as in “I will never drive
a black Prius,” is always inadvisable. (Phew! I almost said, “never
advisable,” but remembered this essay’s nominal subject just in time.)
“Never say never” had
been lying dormant deep in my mind’s attic for a significant amount of time.
But it advanced to the front of the phrase queue recently when I was invited to
join a friend at the Cumberland Fair. I jumped at the chance, since it wasn’t
just an opportunity to spend time with someone I like; it was also the ideal
excuse to remedy a significant personal shortcoming. I hadn’t ever attended the
Cumberland Fair, a less-than-admirable distinction for someone who’s lived
within five miles of the fairgrounds for the past two decades.
Thankfully I’d never
declared, “I will never go to the Cumberland Fair.” If I had I’d
have had to either eat those foolish words, or senselessly pass on a golden
opportunity to enjoy myself.
I’m definitely going
back to the Cumberland Fair, and I’m not going to wait another 20 years to do
so, either. Despite overcast skies on the day my friend and I attended, the
temperature was perfect, everyone was friendly, and there were tons of cool
things to do and see all around the fairgrounds. There was also a wide variety
of delicious, locally produced food available. Several of the locals urged us
to go watch the pig races, but we got so busy chatting that we never got around
to it. We did, however, get close enough to the barn where those contests were
taking place to surmise that the squealing, four-legged competitors weren’t
quite as thrilled with the event as the witnesses were.
When light rain began
falling my friend and I headed across the street to the large field that serves
as the fair’s makeshift parking lot. En route to our respective vehicles we
were subjected to an annoying car alarm that was going off ceaselessly for the
better part of our lengthy walk. My friend suggested the responsible party was
someone who couldn’t find their car in the massive field and set off their
alarm with the “panic button” on their key ring in order to locate it. That’s
when I haughtily informed her that I had never had to do that,
and that I never would.
Twenty minutes later,
soaked to the skin after fruitlessly searching for my car, I finally
surrendered and hit the red button on my electronic car key. Three
separate times, in fact.
Who knew so many Cumberland Fair attendees drive black Priuses? <