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Who was Murphy?

There was a movie that was made back in 1950 called “Cheaper by the Dozen,” starring Clifton Webb and Myrna Loy. I loved that movie! It was a story about a couple who had 12 children, and the father, Frank Gilbreth, was a specialist in time management. He led his family to be very time conscious, and taught them not to waste time on anything. He carried this concept to a ridiculous standard, and it was unreasonable to expect 12 children to behave with such regimentation. It was a very funny movie.

Since 1950, there have been several re-makes of “Cheaper by the Dozen.” To me, none of them have been as entertaining as the original. One of the things I remember about that movie was about Mrs. Murphy.

In the movie, when the kids needed to go to the restroom, they would say they needed to go visit Mrs. Murphy. The whole family knew what that meant. I remember in my own family it was considered impolite to say you have to go to the bathroom. To say, “I need to go to the restroom” was more polite, but my parents said I had to say, “I need to be excused” instead.

One day, when I was a teenager, my boyfriend Jimmy was in our kitchen and we were going out for the afternoon. My mother was sitting at the kitchen table. I said to Jimmy, “Before we leave, I need to go to the bathroom,” and I went upstairs, did my business, and then we left.

Upon my return home later that day, my mother let me know I was never to say that to a boy. (What? Boys don’t ever need to go to the bathroom?) I guess ever since that day, I have been uncomfortable stating my distinct purpose when I need to “be excused.” I will do whatever I can not to say the word “bathroom.” “Pit stop” usually comes to mind for me.

The name “Murphy” seems to be associated with several things other than the use of needing to be excused. I recently discovered there is a “Mrs. Murphy Exemption” to the Fair Housing Act. This is a law that is apparently on the books in all 50 states. (Look this one up, if you are interested.) This is not to be confused with “Murphy’s Law,” which is probably not a real law, but a common concept that says, “Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.”

I have often thought that Murphy should be my middle name. Murphy’s Law follows me often. When I am in a hurry and am in my car, stopped to make a left turn, it is then that many, many cars seem suddenly to appear. If my plans include anything that has even the remotest possibility that something can go awry, it comes to me out of nowhere, and something goes wrong.

Now, as I read what I just wrote, it seems that I am somewhat of a pessimist. I am not. Here is the reason why Murphy’s Law is so prevalent in my life. I am a procrastinator. My best ideas come at the last minute, and I wait until the last minute to go where I need to go, and to do what I need to do. Most of the time, things turn out well for me, but there are those times when they don’t. This doesn’t paralyze me. It just makes me wish, each time, that I had started earlier.

The moral to this story is about time management, just like Frank Gilbreth in Cheaper by the Dozen. Give yourself plenty of time, but don’t waste time.

I am thinking that Murphy, whoever that was, was somewhat of a scapegoat. Murphy = Bathroom, and Murphy = Exemption to Fair Housing Act, and Murphy = Something went wrong. Who was Murphy, anyway?

Think about it.

— My love to all,


• • •

Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little, loves little.”

— Luke 7:47



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