Just say quit

BY BEAU ELLIOT | JULY 07, 2009 7:21 AM

When we’re young, we’re frequently the targets of adages from those older, and presumably more knowledgeable, than us. You know, those old sayings (even older than Supreme Court justices, if that seems possible) that teach us how to be mature, responsible members of society.

That’s the theory, anyway.

And we’re sticking with it, because it’s worked so well so far. I mean, look at the course of human history and its progress. OK, OK, sure — some of that progress involved the deaths of 160 million humans (or 260 million; who can count that high?) in wars in the 20th century, but we have an adage that covers that — something about eggs and breaking them and omelets. What do omelets have to do with war — you ask. Um, we have an adage that covers that; something about everything comes down to omelets. It’s French, I think.

(When in doubt, blame it on the French. Everyone will nod knowingly. Even the French.)

Of course, if you truly want to hear some adages, you have to be fortunate enough to have gone out for high-school football (or basketball or — shudder — track). You wouldn’t believe all the adages flowing like spring water over the field during a full-pad practice on a 98-degreee August day as your sweat also flows like spring water and you can feel the pounds melting off. If, like me, you’re a big, strapping 143 pounds, you can really feel the pounds melting off and collecting in your cleats as the sky turns a curious yellow.

Curious, you say to yourself, I thought the coaches told me to gain weight, not lose it.

And on those August practice days, the one adage you heard more than any other, the one that burned itself past the rivers of sweat and into your memory cells, was: Winners never quit, and quitters never win.

If I had one thin dime (Anyone ever seen a fat dime? Me, neither.) for every time I heard that adage, I’d be as rich as Bill Gates. (Well, OK, maybe not Gates. Maybe Paul Allen or Steve Jobs. Rich enough to get by.)

I was reminded of those August football practices by, of all people, Sarah Palin. (Not that she looks like a football player.) (Yet.)

Last week — the day before the Fourth of July, as it happens — Palin came out and said all my football coaches were horribly, horribly wrong. (Football coaches wrong? How can that be?)

Winners, it turns out, quit.

No, really. As she put it in her press conference (the most hastily called press conference in the history of those things, for what it’s worth), she said: “Life is too short to compromise time and resources … it may be tempting and more comfortable to just keep your head down, plod along, and appease those who demand: ‘Sit down and shut up,’ but that’s the worthless, easy path; that’s a quitter’s way out.”

And then she quit as governor of Alaska.

So, let’s see. Sarah Palin has just resigned the governorship, because, according to her statement, winners quit and losers just keep plugging away.

Imagine how this has upended my universe, which is probably very much like your universe, only more Gemini. All those August football practices, all that sweat, all those lost pounds, all those yellow skies — they were all worthless. I should’ve quit.

Palin puts a whole new spin on, say, going to college. Having a tough road in that calculus class? Don’t study more — drop the class. Got a job you can’t stand? Walk away. Who cares about paying the rent? (Well, outside of your landlord, but he’s probably some rich dude, anyway.)

Buried under credit-card debt? Forget about struggling to pay it off. It’s the American way to just take a hike.

I mean, Sarah Palin says so. And she’s never wrong.

Is she?

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