Laws Of Our Nature

September 8th, 2016

The first definition of law has to do with the laws we make, and break, and ignore and rage against if we don’t like them, and lean on if we do, and contort to our purpose, and so on.

But the second definition is the subject of my musing today:

“2 a statement of fact, deduced from observation, to the effect that a particular natural or scientific phenomenon always occurs if certain conditions are present.” 

Examples follow.

As published in The Memphis Daily News, September 9, 2016, and in The Memphis News, September 10-16, 2016



You know that feeling when you’re in line … any line, including any lane for anything  … that the line was moving faster until you got in it, and you wonder if it’s just you, subject of a cosmic conspiracy, or a karmic joke, or, like Job, a bet between God and Satan.

No, it’s not all about you. It’s the Lousy Line Law.

I’m sitting on the beach as you read this thinking about laws like that, and about having another beer – and you’re thinking I don’t need another beer – and about the scientific certainty of those laws. Any conversation with anyone my age, or opening my email, will confirm that this crap happens to all of us. 

The Law of Unreachable Gravity, for instance, states that any tool, bolt, nut, screw, pill ­– anything you need – when dropped will roll to the least accessible corner of your universe. The Law of Jelly-Side Down is related.

Cover your hands with grease and grime and you will immediately get sweat in your eyes, or have to scratch your nose, or pee, or all of that – it’s the Law of Incontinent Repair. This is sometimes confused with the Law of Restroom Ringing concerning the coordination of doorbells phones, dogfights and children screaming with when you’re in and around tubs, showers and toilets.

The Law of Probable Witness establishes that the probability of being seen is in direct proportion to the idiocy of the act, or that being seen by someone you know is exponentially higher if you’re with someone you don’t want to be seen with. The Law of Viral Sharing is a corollary.

The Law of the Aisles, also known as the Seating Syndrome, encompasses several truths: people furthest from the aisle arrive last, have the greatest need and appetite for concessions and bathrooms, come back late after intermissions, and leave before the end of whatever you’re there for; people on the aisle come early, never leave until beyond the very end, have long and seemingly immovable legs, and tend to be in a bad mood.

The Self-Correction Law can be about things – something that doesn’t work will start working again when you’re showing someone that it doesn’t work – or about people – make an appointment with a doctor and you’ll feel better by the time it rolls around, but be assured if you don’t make the appointment you’ll feel worse.

A recent visit to the gym confirmed the Locker Room Law – if there are only two people in a locker room, they will have adjacent lockers

My wife is condemned to eBay because of the Obsolescence Law – the moment that you determine that a product is perfect for you they will stop making it.

And so it goes. We are but drops in the ocean in front of me, moved by forces beyond our control.

Why is it that waiters only show up when you don’t need anything? Must be a law.

I’m a Memphian, and I’ll have that beer now.


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