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Monday, February 18, 2008


A new proverb is needed

Proverbs can be a useful thing, and there's a concept I've been mulling on for some time. It needs a proverb to express it - but I don't think there is one. Who'd like to suggest one?

The concept is not unlike 'Might as well be hung for a sheep as for a lamb.' Basically, it is this: if you're going to get blamed for doing something wrong, you might as well do it. Somebody has decided you're their enemy? You might as well be, since they're already yours. Somebody insists you're mean, even when you give them generous birthday presents? You might as well spend less money next time. Someone won't stop calling you lazy when you're working hard? Working gets you no credit; you might as well slack off.

See what I mean? Almost everybody reasons like that if pushed far enough. Yet there's no prover for it. We need to fix this.

In effect, the sentiment is 'If you're going to pay the fine, you might as well do the crime,' or, 'If you're branded a thief, you might as well steal.' But I don't like those. We need something succinct and graphic. Who's got one?

I always thought that was what "Might as well be hung for a sheep as for a lamb." actually meant.

So if it doesn't mean that, what does it mean?
It means, if you're going to do something wrong already, you might as well do the maximum crime for the penalty attached. A sheep's more valuable than a lamb, but if both are capital crimes, you might as well do the thing properly, as you'll be no worse off if you're caught doing one than t'other. Not quite the same as reasoning that you weren't planning on doing something wrong, but if you're going to be blamed for it regardless, you might as well do it.
If the eggs are already broken, you might as well make the omelette.

Ahhhh, got it. I knew I could count on you to explain it to me.

I'll have to ponder that notion. Because you're right, it does need a phrase.
This one kind of came to me in a flash, see if it works for you:

"Call me Larry, and I'll answer to it."

You might have to change it if your name is, in fact, Larry, but keep the rest of the phrase intact. The point being, if you're going to keep 'getting my name wrong' by saying I'm something I'm not, then I might as well 'answer to that name' by being the thing you say I am.
Habitual criminals often say, "If you can't do the time, don't do the crime." Time=time in jail.

So I suppose you could turn it on its head for this case.

"If I'm already doing the time, I may as well do the crime."

Somehow, it doesn't quite have the ring of the original, though.
Forgot to sign my comment. I used to post under "bran fan." Hi.
Actually, the more I think about 'Call me Larry', the more I like it. I think I'm going to try it and see how it works. Not that this should stop any more of you creative people coming up with more suggestions. I like your suggestions.

And hi, Margaret! Nice to meet you under your own name. Tell me, was it bran as in the healthy dietary supplement, or something else that you're a fan of?
Hi, Kit! It started at agent Nathan Bransford's blog. Yanno, Miss Snark had her Snarklings, and Nathan Bransford has his bran fans.

But then I decided to get a blogger account, with my own name.

You can call me Margaret, or Bran Fan.

But if you call me Larry....
Coming very late to this, but there is such a proverb in the U.S.: "if you've got the name, why not play the game?" with variants like, "since I had the name, I figured I'd just go ahead and play the game." It's common enough that it can be abbreviated to, "if you've got the name. . . ."

No idea what the origin is or what it might originally have referred to, but there it is.
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