Ben Franklin and the art of doing lunch

Old boys have their playthings as well as young ones; the difference is only in the price.

You see Ben Franklin’s advice all around you and probably quote him weekly if the truth be known. Did Benjamin Franklin himself listen to his own advice that he gave so liberally in Poor Richard’s Almanac?
Occasionally. On occasion not. “Be temperate in wine, in eating, girls, and cloth, or the Gout will seize you and plague you both,” Franklin wrote. Ben liked good food, loved women, and was a dandy when it came to dressing. He suffered with gout. I suffer with gut.

The reality is Franklin’s advice may be somewhat divine by design, but in practice the man was very much a flawed mortal. Just like you and me. I guess that’s one of the reasons I like him.

So let’simagine for a few moments, we are having a Philly cheesesteak and a brown ale while conducting a little chat with Ben at McGillin’s Old Ale House in the City of Brotherly Love. An afternoon summer storm is approaching andevery time there is a clap of thunder, he smiles.I observe him flirting with the pretty lass serving us. When she is out of earshod, I inquire;

Mr. Franklin, you are known for being a bit of a rounder. Any insight on the matter?
“After three days men grow weary, of a wench, a guest, and weather rainy.”
I chuckle. Three pieces of valuable information to get us started then?
(He shrugs, laughs and then points his forefinger at me) In the end,There are three faithful friends — an old wife, an old dog, and ready money.” Yes indeed, “Fish and visitors stink after three days.”

Seriously, sir, regarding the republic, doesn’t freedom come with some degree of risk?
“They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
(Ben is devouring his sandwich with wild abandon.) You seem to be enjoying your repast; and the brew?
“Who is rich? He that rejoices in his Portion. But eat to live, and not live to eat. (He takes a drink from his mug and looks up with a foam mustache.) Beer is living proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.
Speaking of God? What is the best we can do to serve Him?
“Tis doing Good to Man. Work as if you were to live a hundred years, Pray as if you were to die tomorrow…After crosses and losses, men grow humbler and wiser. God helps them that help themselves. A good example is the best sermon. The way to see by faith is to shut the eye of reason.”
Sounds reasonable. That leads me to this question. What’s the key to a happy existence?
“Does thou love life? Then do not squander time; for that’s the stuff life is made of…keep your eyes wide open before marriage, half shut afterwards. Who has deceiv’d thee so oft as thy self?”
That’s true. But it’s hard counsel to live by.
“Tis easy to see, hard to foresee.” He makes a fist and shakes it. “Well done is better than well said.”
Yes. I agree. You surrounded yourself with some of the greatest minds of your time and mingled with the common man and royalty alike. Any advice on social interaction?
Be slow in choosing a friend, slower in changing. What you seem to be, be really. (He rises from the empty plate and mug and after a liberal belch pats me on the back) “Three may keep a secret, if two of them are dead. He that lieth down with Dogs, shall rise up with Fleas.”
I stand in respect and ask if we can talk again sometime. He nods affirmatively and turns to leave. He has the demeanor of a very busy man.
Good. I say. But I do have one last question. It is that old question that we the living always want to ask those who have gone ahead of us. Should we be wary of death?
He turns on his heel and scampers back and puts his arm around me and leans his head toward my left ear and whispers softly,
“Fear not death; for the sooner we die, the longer shall we be immortal.”
While I ponder that thought, he is out the door and crosses the street and then disappears into the little kite shop on the corner.

Until then, old friend, I say to myself, “we must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately”,


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