Of all my students, he stood out,
‘Cause he was kind of weird.
He had orange hair and holey clothes
And a thin and straggly beard.

That kind of kid, when I was young,
We used to call a hippie.
His talk was strange his ways were brash,
You might say he was lippy.

Well, I was teaching language rules;
Those that are always true.
These rules were set in concrete
As every scholar knew.

I said, “It’s true in English,
When we have a double negative,
No matter what the context be,
The result is always positive.

While in certain other languages,
A negative and a positive,
Will result, no matter what,
In the sentence being negative.

But there’s no language in this world,
Be it so rare or primitive,
Where there can be two positives
Which result in being negative.”

Then a voice came from the back,
Both humorless and trite;
A long established rule was blown
When the Hippie said, “Yeah, right”!

In Exception I changed my meter somewhat. I thought that the story was too good to pass up and rhyming negative and positive got too convoluted.

In the Air Force, we had a name for the kind of thinking that limited itself to the perimeters of the rulebook. We called it ‘Flat Earth’ thinking. Of course it was imperative that manuals and regulations, once established, were obeyed; but during brain storming sessions, all of the rules were thrown out the window.

It was always fun to give a difficult problem to a young Second Lieutenant because he hadn’t been in the service long enough to know that it was impossible. Quite often, he would come up with a solution to accomplish the task.

If you listen to teenagers talk, you will hear all kinds of English rules being broken.


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