Maxim (max’-im): One of several terms describing short, pithy sayings. Others include adage, apothegm, gnome, paroemia, proverb, and sententia.

When I was young, my father said to me: “Son, two birds in a bush are worth more than one bird in the hand. Two birds will mate and have baby birds that you can raise and eat.” My father was a rebel and thought it was funny to twist maxims. His favorites were “A stitch in time is part of an acid trip.” Or, “Beggars can be boozers.” Or, “One man’s meat is another man’s McMuffin.” Or, “You’re never too old for Viagra.”

Dad died 2 years ago. He choked to death on a McMuffin. I am working on a screenplay about his life. It’s titled “Maxims in Pajamas: Leave Your Baggage on the Bus.” It is a struggle to write. What I’m tying to do is make Dad’s life look a little less worthless than it actually is. So, I’m cataloging his maxims and trying to interpret them in ways that make sense. So far, I have been unsuccessful. So, I’m going to follow some advice I got from “Jiminy Cricket’s Rubbing Legs of Wisdom.” He was extremely insightful. I like this one the best: “Dress like a person and talk like a person and you will still be an insect.” Right after he said this, he was crushed on a sidewalk at Disneyland. What could be more poignant? Although he has was’t crushed on a sidewalk, my father died a violent death—choking on his favorite sandwich. I like to think of my father as a lost soul who made lots of mistakes. There’s a maxim buried in there somewhere. Maybe, “It takes great ability to conceal your ability” fits him best. I like to think he worked hard on being a loser; that it was no accident he screwed everything up. It was his role in life and he did it well.

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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