I’m addicted to collecting memorable quotes. I can’t help it. I have shoeboxes full. My wife Marilyn often called me a poor man’s “Reader’s Digest” looking for a bathroom.
At one time I thought I should categorize all my quotes — you know, with headings like “Stupid Remarks,” or “Racy Statements.” I never did, because like all addicts, I didn’t really care about their genres. I just had to have them a couple times a day.
Then along came computers, so one evening I sat down to transcribe my hand-writ quotes into computerese. That chore lasted less than an hour, because I bogged down in a batch of quotes all dated before l960. I hadn’t seen them for years, and I discovered there’s nothing finer than a schooner of vintage quotes and a 20-cent cigar.
Take the one from Eleanor Roosevelt — “I once had a rose named after me, and I was very flattered, but I wasn’t pleased to read the description in the catalog, which said, ‘No good in a bed, but line up against a wall.’ ”
Or the one from George Burns — “The secret of a successful sermon is to have a good beginning and a good ending with the two as close together as possible.”
Burns also said, “Some guy hit my fender the other day, and I said unto him, ‘Be fruitful and multiply,’ or words to that effect.”
(Incidentally, when he was almost 100 years old, he said, “I’m very pleased to be here. But let’s face it, at my age I’m pleased to be anywhere.” He also said, “At my age flowers scare me.”)
Victor Borge had a choice one back in the old days that went like this: “Santa Claus has the right idea — visit people only once a year.”
And Mark Twain, now there was a guy worth listening to. He once said, “Be careful reading books about health. You may die of a misprint.”
Twain also said, “Last week I said this particular woman was the ugliest woman I’d ever seen. I have since met her mother, and I wish to withdraw that statement.”
Then he said, “What would men be without women? Scarce, sir, mighty scarce.”
And finally he said, “I’m opposed to millionaires, but it would be dangerous to offer me the position.”
Of course W.C. Fields spouted some of the grandest quotes. One time he said, “I never drink water because of the disgusting things fish do in it.”
Another time he said, “It takes only one drink to get me drunk. The trouble is, I can’t remember if it’s the eighth or ninth.”
Another quote from Fields was, “A woman drove me to drink, and I hadn’t even the courtesy to thank her.”
And finally he said, “Only Irish coffee provides in a single glass all four essential food groups — alcohol, caffeine, sugar, and fat.”
And remember Groucho Marx? He said, “Those are my principles. If you don’t like them, I have others.”
Woody Allen was no slouch back in olden times either. He once said, “If only God would give me some sign, like making a large deposit in my name at a Swiss bank.”
He also said, “If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans for the future.”
And as a postscript, Allen said, “A good thing about being poor is that when you’re old, your children won’t have you declared legally insane in order to gain control of your estate.”
Even Socrates got into the picture with this win-win quote — “By all means, marry. If you get a good wife, you’ll become happy. If you get a bad one, you’ll become a philosopher.”
And remember Jimmy Durante? He said, “My wife has a slight speech impediment. Every now and then she has to stop to breathe.”
And Spike Milligan was quoted as saying, “Money can’t buy you happiness, but it does bring you a more pleasant form of misery.”
But let’s not forget the ladies. Zsa Zsa Gabor once said, “I never hated a man enough to give his diamonds back.”
And Jilly Cooper said, “The male is a domestic animal which, if treated with firmness and kindness, can be trained to do most things.”
And Lucille Ball said, “The secret of staying young is to live honestly, eat slowly, and lie about your age.”
Bob Huber is a retired journalist living in Portales.