12 Classic, Wise Proverbs, Updated Through the Eyes of a Cynical Writer

Humorist Teddy Wayne makes common proverb sayings hilarious.

wet cat
Steve Wacksman for Reader’s Digest

If you want something done right, do it yourself. [Note to intern: This works, but I’m not in love with it; pls. revise and write up ten more for my approval—Thx, Teddy]

A scalded cat fears cold water—and don’t even think about putting Mr. Fluffers into a lukewarm bath, because he’ll claw your face. Make sure to feed him twice a day, but alternate the cans; morning’s on the left cabinet, night’s on the right. My right. Yes. What else … I think that’s it! If there’s an emergency, just call us in Thailand anytime, using your own phone.

If you shoot for the stars, you’ll hit the roof; do not do that, since we just repaired the roof and it was a four-month ordeal. Instead, shoot for the roof, and you’ll end up hitting the first floor. We sublet that to another tenant, so it’s fine. We don’t even like him.

The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. All right, that’s it for our cardiac-surgery unit. Let’s move on to neurosurgery. The way to a man’s brain is also through his stomach. Pretty much anywhere you’ll be doing invasive surgery, you’re gonna want to go through the stomach. Except for gastrointestinal surgery. Go through the upper spine. Kidding! The lower spine.

After dinner, rest for a while; after supper, walk a mile—hold on, which one is supper? Is that lunch, or is it actually dinner? Whenever people use the word supper, I always think they’re from some strange part of America that I’ve never visited, some place with pastures and barns, maybe, where everyone knows everybody else and the air smells fresh and people are honest and good. I guess I wish I lived there. I never walk after any meals.

A house divided against itself cannot stand. Wait, I forgot about duplexes. Duplexes are the exact literal definition of bifurcated housing. Argh! I can be such an idiot sometimes.

Every dog has its day—January 12, International Dog Day. It’s going to be huge this year, with a ton of fun events, prizes, minor-celebrity appearances, you name it. Follow us on Twitter @IntlDogDay!

The enemy of my enemy is this guy Robert. He’s a total jerk—everyone thinks so, even my own enemy, Paul, who’s one of the biggest jerks I know.

April is the cruelest month; May seems nice but actually talks trash behind everyone’s back, including yours. I’d rather not repeat anything, but it has said some pretty cruel things about you—especially when it’s drunk (which is often). All the months are creeps, when you get right down to it. Except for October. October’s really cool.

Ask a stupid question, and you’ll get a stupid answer—what does that even mean, though?

Practice makes perfecc … Practice makkes perfect … Practice makesperf—damn it. I’ll never get this. I’m calling it a day.

Teddy Wayne is a New York Times columnist and the author of the novels The Love Song of Jonny Valentine and Kapitoil.You can read more of his Unpopular Proverbs here.

Originally Published in Reader's Digest

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Teddy Wayne
Teddy Wayne is a New York Times columnist and the author of the novels The Love Song of Jonny Valentine and Kapitoil.