As you can see, Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie, Ray Brown, Milt (Milton) Jackson and Timmie Rosenkrantz clearly knew it. In fact, any hip cat worth his tenor sax knew Club 2-to-1 was THE place to see and be seen.
Even now, we still find 2-to-1 compelling. Why else would dentists, fast food joints and politicians think it soooo important – all claiming favor by a margin of 2-to-1? Whether it’s fluoride, french fries or the presidential vote in November, I think we like knowing that twice as many of our tribe have already expressed an overwhelming preference.
While it could be evidence of not having our own opinion or just the presence of a very large advertising budget, carpenters have always known better…that 2-to-1 is really all about risk management.
One of my guiding carpenterial (sic) principles has long been ‘Measure Twice, Cut Once‘. Try as I may, a 2×4 that needs to 63” and 3/16ths will not stretch if I messed up counting the hash marks on my trusty measuring tape. I can slam my hammer all day long, but it changes nothing. So once the hysterics are done, there’s nothing more to do but put my bruised pride back in its box, get another board and do it again. Been there – done that.
Earlier this week, I was making a comment to one of my fellow bloggers posts when I remembered something I already knew but had sort of forgotten; namely, another version of the 2-to-1 rule.
Back when I was a little kid, one of the highlights of my summer was spending time at grandpa’s house. Sometimes we gardened or painted or did nothing at all, but sometimes I got to be his pint-size apprentice as he did carpentry work in the garage. It was there I learned what square was; what plumb meant and how to snap a chalk line. Whatever the project was, I was in hog-heaven; not even mindful of just how much teaching was going on. Good life teachers (especially old carpenters) are slick that way.
It was one of those hot days in the shade and I had been jabbering on and on about something or other. I don’t even really remember what it was that had gotten me so worked up and jumping to all kinds of conclusions. But as I laid out my 8 or 9-year old angst, Grandpa sat there quietly listening, occasionally nodding that he was picking up on what I was putting down.
All out of breath from my diatribe, he took advantage of my pause, leaned up and quietly asked, “Danny, how many ears do you have?”. A bit startled, I wondered if he’d heard anything I had just told him. ‘Uh?’ He repeated his question: “How many ears do you have?”. ‘Well, two of course.’ “And how many mouths do you have?” (now I’m thinking we’d spent too much time in the sun or something). ‘One.’ “Umm, two to one. I suppose that means it may be better to be listenin more than talkin…”
That’s the kind of lightening-bolt-moment a kid remembers.
That old man loved me so much that, in his own home-spun fashion, he held it vitally important that he pass on to me, what he had learned along the way. Funny how the older I get, the more I realize he may have been the smartest man I’ve ever known.
Think about it. Turn on the TV or sit in any diner — talk, talk, talk and not a whole lot of listening going on. No wonder we don’t learn – who’s got time to take a breath? But when you’re in a new school, or a new anything, what do we do? We listen. We watch. We keep quiet so we can pay attention to what’s going on around us. Who wants to screw up and look the fool?
Sometime this week, somewhere along the way, someone is going to say something really stupid or hurtful. But before you let your mouth go off on their sorry self and reduce them to ash, stop for just a second…just long enough to hear your own heartbeat…before you speak.
You’re no slouch. My hunch is if you think twice, before you speak, the one thing you do say, is going to have twice the impact. Impressive. I like those odds.
Love’s funny that way.
Photo Credits and Attributions:
Portrait of Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie, Ray Brown, Milt (Milton) Jackson, and Timmie Rosenkrantz, Downbeat, New York, N.Y., ca. Sept. 1947 [Gottlieb, William P., 1917-, photographer – Library of Congress], Pepsodent Print Ad: http://artskooldamage.blogspot.com/2010_02_01_archive.html, Grandfather talking with his grandson: http://www.more4kids.info/702/teaching-children-respect/, TalkTalkTalk: http://www.mobile-broadband.org.uk, Mr. Potato Head (Hasbro): http://www.figures.com/forums/news/10213-thinkway-toy-story-collection-mr-potato-head.html
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