‘They said’ it was OK

Rick Ryckeley's picture

Young or old, male or female, everyone without exception has gotten into trouble and tried to lay the blame at someone else’s feet. With four brothers and one sister, I could lay the blame at multiple feet. While growing up, it was good to have so many other siblings to blame. I was always in trouble for something.

When asked why all the candles in the house were melted down into a multi-colored blob, the answer was simple. I just pointed to Big Brother James and Older Brother Richard, “They said to do it.”

On the way back from Doctor Jim’s office, Dad wanted an explanation as to why our sister had broken her arm. I pointed to my two co-conspirators in the backseat, “They said as long as she kept her arms inside the tire she could roll down the hill and not get hurt.”

After the fire department rescued me from the top of a hundred-foot pine tree, Dad asked what possible reason I had for climbing so high. Again I pointed to James and Richard. “Because they said I could do it.”

I gave the same answer when Dad caught us jumping off the top of Cliff Condos, landing in the soft dirt below. He thought it was too dangerous for an 8-year-old.

Dad’s reply to “They said” was typical for dads from that era, “If your brothers told you to jump off the Empire State Building, would you do it?”

I didn’t say a word. Besides, who would do such a crazy thing? The jump from the cliff was only 20 feet. The Empire State Building was a whole lot taller than that.

When I reached Briarwood, Home of the Mighty Buccaneers, “They said” came right along with me. When the Magnificent Seven were caught by the police after rolling Candi’s house with over 150 rolls of toilet paper, we had the perfect alibi. We pointed to the kids running through the woods. “They said it was tradition to roll the head cheerleader’s house after Homecoming.”

Looking back at the trouble we got into, our excuse probably would have worked better if kids were actually running through the woods.

For those of you who really don’t remember childhood, “They said” can seamlessly move into the workplace. When caught in sticky situations, just remember these few phrases and you should be fine. At least that’s what they said.

When asked if you’ve ever used office supplies for personal use, just reply, “They said it was okay.”

When the boss asks why you left early on Friday, point to the employees who’ve been at the company the longest, “They said it was a tradition.”

And when caught violating company policies, meekly answer, “They said everybody does it.”

Unfortunately I’ve found that the phrase “They said” doesn’t work too well at home. I learned early on in our marriage it was the wrong thing to say when trying to explain my way out of anything.

The first time I replied with “They said,” The Wife answered, “Well, THEY don’t live here. You do.”

At work or during social events, “They said” can indeed be a useful tool to explain why things go awry, but to have a healthy and happy marriage, the phrase should never be used for any reason.

If you break The Wife’s fancy one-of-a-kind trinket, admit to it. If you stay out late with your buddies, don’t blame it on them; tell her the truth.

Lastly, if you need to apologize for being a Neanderthal, just do it. Trust me. That’s what I do.

Not because “They said” so, but because The Wife said so.

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