tall pile of chocolate bars . . . to eat in moderationEverything in moderation, including moderation.

Heard that before?

Now you have, in any case.

Feel free to attribute that quote to me.

After all, I wrote it.

(Look above, if you don’t believe me.)

Take it and run with it, Internet!

Origin of the Quote

Oh, so you require more persuasion before quoting me on that? You wish to know who said “Everything in moderation, including moderation” before I did?

That’s easy—it was my date the other night. We might have been discussing whether we should order more small-plated food. Upon which he uttered the aforementioned string of words. Or perhaps it was another round of drinks that we were contemplating. Or was it dessert? I can’t remember; I was pretty inebriated at that point.

I’m confident that he said it, though. I remarked that that sounded like good wisdom, and that I should write a blog post about that. He remarked that that sounded like an excellent idea. And we flagged down the waitress and put in another order . . . of whatever it was we were contemplating ordering.

In any case, once I had recovered from that bout of immoderation, I decided to investigate the origins of the saying. If you believe the Internet (and—let’s be honest—who doesn’t??), the first part was said by everyone from Socrates to Aristotle to other illustrious, sandal-wearing dudes; while the latter part was tacked on by everyone from Benjamin Franklin to Oscar Wilde to Julia Child, not to mention several less famous, but surely equally redoubtable, personages.

What difference, I ask, is one more soul in this little parade of elocutionists likely to make?

Analysis of the Quote

Lately, I’ve had Taylor Swift’s album Reputation on repeat. Its first song “…Ready for It?” has a relevant lyric:*

Some boys are tryin’ too hard, he don’t try at all though

I see two extremes here. Trying too hard to win over a crush seldom works. As for not trying at all . . . at first blush, this seems like a good strategy. Swift’s narrator is certainly captivated by the man in question. She launches into an extended fantasy about captivating his desire as he has captivated hers, and all that will happen as a result.

However, if the narrator’s crush is truly not trying at all, is anything likely to happen between them? Doubtful. Sure, she could throw herself at a man who isn’t trying at all to win her love. But if he’s really that uninterested in her (or uninterested in love with anyone, or cynical about any possibility of love), her dreams about him touching her, while they’re someplace with low lighting on some island, begin to sound more creepy than romantic.

The narrator ends the song by repeating these words:

Baby, let the games begin
Let the games begin
Let the games begin
Are you ready for it?

If he’s not trying at all, then the answer is clearly no, he’s not ready for it. Playing a game with someone who isn’t trying at all is no fun at all. But if he’s only acting like he’s not trying, but actually putting in a highly nuanced effort to win her affection? Now he’s starting to sound pretty cool . . . and like he knows something about the wisdom of moderation.

And maybe, while they’re on the island, he’ll ditch the whole moderation thing and go wild!

And then, being the wise man he is, he’ll give Taylor** a good-bye kiss, fly home, and mow his lawn.

Uses of the Quote

In conclusion, I wrote the saying “Everything in moderation, including moderation.” (See the opening line of this blog post, or, actually, to save time, see the previous sentence.)

You can quote me on that.

For example, you can quote me on your next batch of T-shirts, mugs, coasters, knickknacks, wall hangings, notepad covers, or other trinkets you plan to sell on Etsy.

Feel free to go nuts with it!

Just, after you go nuts, back off for a bit.

Moderation, people.


*For a more complete analysis of the song, see the blog post by Clifford Stumme, a.k.a. the Pop Song Professor, called What does "...Ready For It?" by Taylor Swift mean?

**The name of the song's narrator is (coincidentally!!) Taylor.