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Mignon McLaughlin (136 items)

  • People keep telling us about their love affairs, when what we really want to know is how much money they make and how they manage on it.

  • An artist usually has no friends except other artists, and usually they do not like his work.

  • It's important to our friends to believe that we are unreservedly frank with them, and important to the friendship that we are not.

  • The know-nothings are, unfortunately, seldom the do-nothings.

  • We cough because we can't help it, but others do it on purpose.

  • After he has had his tantrum, the neurotic expects those around him to feel friendly and relaxed; after all, he does.

  • 'Pull yourself together' is seldom said to anyone who can.

  • The trouble with women is men; the trouble with men, men.

  • When the pressures really mount, the neurotic must choose: Shall he have a good cry, or set fire to his neighbor's house?

  • We can never understand other people's motives, nor their furniture.

  • The fault no child ever loses is the one he was most punished for.

  • Learning too soon our limitations, we never learn our powers.

  • There are children born to be children, and others who must mark time till they can take their natural places as adults.

  • We lavish on animals the love we are afraid to show people. They might not return it; or worse, they might.

  • If the second marriage really succeeds, the first one didn't really fail.

  • No one has ever loved anyone the way everyone wants to be loved.

  • No one can understand love who has not experienced infatuation. And no one can understand infatuation, no matter how many times he has experienced it.

  • A perfect marriage is one in which 'I'm sorry' is said just often enough.

  • We welcome passion, for the mind is briefly let off duty.

  • Boredom is often the cause of promiscuity, and always its result.

  • Beauty often fades, but seldom so swiftly as the joy it gives us.

  • The only mothers it is safe to forget on Mother's Day are the good ones.

  • Even in the same family, one child will always instinctively know when to ask for things, and another won't.

  • When hope is hungry, everything feeds it.

  • If you see in your children most of your own faults, you have failed as a parent, but succeeded as a neurotic.

  • No good neurotic finds it difficult to be both opinionated and indecisive.

  • Women are the right age for just a few years; men, for most of their lives.

  • Nymphomaniac: a woman as obsessed with sex as an average man.

  • The proud man can learn humility, but he will be proud of it.

  • The neurotic would like to trust his analyst — if only because he's paying him so much money. But he can't — because if the analyst really cared, he'd be doing it for nothing.

  • Spite is never lonely; envy always tags along.

  • Women are good listeners, but it's a waste of time telling your troubles to a man unless there's something specific you want him to do.

  • Others follow patterns; we alone are unpredictable.

  • Even cowards can endure hardship; only the brave can endure suspense.

  • There are always a few people you do a lot for, and a few who do a lot for you, but they're not the same people.

  • The first two days of a vacation are endless; then it flies.

  • Humiliation is a vast country of imprecise boundaries. If you think you're there, you are. The neurotic rule: when in doubt, go ahead and feel humiliated.

  • The best work is done with the heart breaking, or overflowing.

  • Love looks forward, hate looks back, anxiety has eyes all over its head.

  • When we discuss those we love with those who do not love them, the end of love is near.

  • When first we fall in love, we feel that we know all there is to know about life, and perhaps we are right.

  • One of life's few really reliable pleasures: to have a family you love, and to leave them for a week.

  • Tragedy isn't getting something, or failing to get it; it's losing something you already have.

  • Make a habit of telling the truth, or make a habit of lying: to decide each case on its own merits is exhausting, and hardly ever worth it.

  • The fault we admit to is seldom the fault we have, but it has a certain relationship to it, a somewhat similar shape, like that of a sleeve to an arm.

  • If you can tell anyone about it, it's not the worst thing you ever did.

  • Courage can't see around corners, but goes around them anyway.

  • At night, neurotics may toil not, but oh how they spin!

  • Revenge leads to an empty fullness, like eating dirt.

  • Not for nothing does the neurotic suffer — but not for anything very much, either.

  • Hope is the feeling we have that the feeling we have is not permanent.

  • Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to weave.

  • Neurotic quarrels always have the same theme-song: Hate me and get it over with.

  • If you made a list of the reasons why any couple got married, and another list of the reasons for their divorce, you'd have a hell of a lot of overlapping.

  • We are irritated by rascals, intolerant of fools, and prepared to love the rest. But where are they?

  • The hardest-learned lesson: that people have only their kind of love to give, not our kind.

  • It must infuriate our children to see us always so much more forbearing with everybody else's.

  • Don't ask others to forgive in you a sin they're dying to commit themselves.

  • We are never more self-righteous than when giving up what we should have shunned all along.

  • Neurotics would like to sleep all the time, and to be awakened only when there is good news.

  • The three horrors of modern life — talk without meaning, desire without love, work without satisfaction.

  • The first-rate mind is always curious, compassionate, original, and pessimistic.

  • In the theater, as in life, we prefer a villain with a sense of humor to a hero without one.

  • It's awesome to realize that if your greatest potential talent is for riding a bicycle upside down on a high wire, you will somehow discover it.

  • Everybody can write; writers can't do anything else.

  • Theatre audiences can't be made to think and cry: at best, they can be made to think and laugh, or to feel and cry.

  • Many are saved from sin by being so inept at it.

  • Despair is anger with no place to go.

  • Those who turn to God for comfort may find comfort but I do not think they will find God.

  • We'd all like a reputation for generosity, and we'd all like to buy it cheap.

  • The neurotic longs to touch bottom, so at least he won't have that to worry about any more.

  • It's hard to feel middle-aged, because how can you tell how long you are going to live?

  • There is always some specific moment when we realize our youth is gone; but years after, we know it was much later.

  • Traditions are group efforts to keep the unexpected from happening.

  • The past is strapped to our backs. We do not have to see it; we can always feel it.

  • My thoughts, I guess, are bitter: who but the bitter have thoughts?

  • Age is a slowing down of everything except fear.

  • In retrospect, our triumphs could as easily have happened to someone else; but our defeats are uniquely our own.

  • Anything you do from the heart enriches you, but sometimes not till years later.

  • Throughout our lives, we see in the mirror the same innocent trusting face we have seen there since childhood.

  • Learn a little of anything, and you're ready to proselytize.

  • What you can't get out of, get into wholeheartedly.

  • We are seldom happy with what we now have, but would go to pieces if we lost any part of it.

  • No matter how brilliantly an idea is stated, we will not really be moved unless we have already half-thought of it ourselves.

  • Every society honors its live conformists, and its dead troublemakers.

  • One day you are an apprentice, and everybody's pet; the next, you are coldly expected to deliver. There is never sufficient warning that the second day is coming.

  • In the arithmetic of love, one plus one equals everything, and two minus one equals nothing.

  • A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person.

  • No matter how many Christmas presents you give your child, there's always that terrible moment when he's opened the very last one. That's when he expects you to say, 'Oh yes, I almost forgot,' and take him out and show him the pony.

  • No one really listens to anyone else, and if you try it for a while you'll see why.

  • When a man falls in love, he wants to go to bed. When a woman falls in love, she wants to talk about it.

  • We often pray to be better, when in truth we only want to feel better.

  • What you have become is the price you paid to get what you used to want.

  • For the happiest life, days should be rigorously planned, nights left open to chance.

    • Mignon McLaughlin,
    • in Atlantic ()
  • Things are never so bad that they can't get worse. But they're sometimes so bad they can't get better.

  • Likely as not, the child you can do the least with will do the most to make you proud.

  • Nobody knows the trouble we've seen — but we keep trying to tell them.

  • Failure can get to be a rather comfortable old friend.

  • Neurotics are sure that no one understands them, and they wouldn't have it any other way.

  • If you are brave too often, people will come to expect it of you.

  • A good executive is one who makes people contentedly settle for less than they meant to get, in return for more than they meant to give.

  • The fear of being laughed at makes cowards of us all.

  • The young are generally in full revolt, and are often pretty revolting about it.

  • Character is what emerges from all the little things you were too busy to do yesterday, but did anyway.

  • If only we could be old and sick while we're still young and healthy enough to put up with it!

  • Neurotics expect you to remember all the things that they tell you, and many that they don't.

  • It's the most unhappy people who most fear change.

  • I know which side my bread is buttered on: the side which falls on the carpet.

  • There are a handful of people whom money won't spoil, and we all count ourselves among them.

  • We're all born brave, trusting, and greedy, and most of us remain greedy.

  • Money: in its absence, we are coarse; in its presence, we are vulgar.

  • A car is useless in New York, essential everywhere else. The same with good manners.

  • Healthy parakeets have the nervous energy of tennis players.

  • Don't look for God where He is needed most; if you didn't bring Him there, He isn't there.

  • Most sermons sound to me like commercials — but I can't make out whether God is the Sponsor or the Product.

  • When you let money speak for you, it drowns out anything else that you meant to say.

  • There are so many things that we wish we had done yesterday, so few that we feel like doing today.

  • Creative work is one of life's greatest pleasures, and the only one we will gladly interrupt.

  • It took man thousands of years to put words down on paper, and his lawyers still wish he wouldn't.

  • To talk easily with people, you must firmly believe that either you or they are interesting. And even then it's not easy.

  • Neurotics have plenty of non-neurotic friends, but not for long.

  • A bore: one who knows as well as you do what he is going to say next.

  • Most of us become parents long before we have stopped being children.

  • Most of us would rather risk catastrophe than read the directions.

  • If I knew what I was so anxious about, I wouldn't be so anxious.

  • The only courage that matters is the kind that gets you from one moment to the next.

  • The next voice you hear will undoubtedly be your own.

  • The time to begin most things is ten years ago.

  • It's innocence when it charms us, ignorance when it doesn't.

  • My doctor is nice; every time I see him I'm ashamed of what I think about doctors in general.

  • Our strength is often composed of the weakness that we're damned if we're going to show.

  • The head never rules the heart, but just becomes its partner in crime.

  • We always prefer war on our own terms to peace on someone else's.

  • Men who don't like girls with brains don't like girls.

  • Life is a mixed blessing, which we vainly try to unmix.

  • We are all such a waste of our potential, like three-way lamps using one-way bulbs.

Mignon McLaughlin, U.S. writer, humorist

(1913 - 1983)