Hey, shut up!

Once when I was a boy my grandmother gave me some good advice. Like any pearl of grandmotherly wisdom, her advice was stern, succinct, and delivered a bit indelicately. Her advice, however, has served me quite well, and now I would like to share it with you: 

Hey, shut up!

That’s it. That’s the advice. Perhaps you don’t think that this sounds like very good advice. Perhaps you’re thinking it right now, to me! That’s understandable. It’s a little abrasive, as advice goes. Please allow me to clarify some context. 

Are you being a total shit? Let me tell you, I sure was. I don’t recall exactly what I was doing, but from what I recall, yes, I was being a total shit. So my grandmother said to me, “Hey, shut up!” She was right to say it. 

Are you running your mouth? Again, guilty! I don’t recall exactly what I was saying, but I know I was saying it enough that my grandmother told me to shut up about it. 

Do you know what you’re talking about? When my grandmother told me to shut up, I was 6 or 7. Perhaps I was a little older, or a little younger… I’m not really sure, to be honest… you know, I should probably shut up about it. See, it’s good advice. 

I wish I could claim that my grandmother came up with this advice herself, but I doubt it. I suspect that people have been suggesting that others shut up for centuries. Famously, the King of Spain once told the President of Venezuela, “Por que no te callas?” which is just a polite, Spanish way to say, “Hey, shut up!” 

You might be wondering: Did the King of Spain learn this nugget of wisdom from my grandmother? I’ve looked into this. The dates line up, but I’ve not been able to verify that my grandmother ever actually met the King of Spain, so it’s just a fun thing to think abou– oof, I can hear her now: “Hey, shut up!”  Got me again, grandma!

Look, I get it, there’s a certain irony in my writing a blog about being told to shut up. Occupational hazard. What’s nice about this advice, though, is that sometimes we all need that unimpressed, impatient editor in our heads. I sure do. I’m a middle aged white guy on the internet. Twitter shouldn’t even be giving me 140 characters. If I don’t have something worth saying right out of the gate:

Hey, shut up!

It’s just something to think about.



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