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THE FIRST OF TWO REVIEWS I DID LIVE AT THE BOOK RELEASE PARTY ON SEPTEMBER 19, 2017

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There is the well-known adage which speaks to the making of an assumption and the often unfortunate fruits it produces. The powerful little proverb, like a guardian angel wrapped in splendor and might, has protected so many in our society from doing or saying things to make themselves look foolish.

But is there such a proverb for sign keepers? I mean, is there a little nugget of ancient wisdom that a sign keeper might have readily available, an easy rhyme or an artless saying that he or she could pitch against before venturing up the ladder with those little plastic letters to spell out the message they intend to communicate to the masses?

If one is ever discovered, we’ll need to make haste in releasing it to the internet, because here on earth, amongst our own ranks, there exists a particular gathering of people charged with signages who desperately need shepherding before being allowed to interface with the public.

Consider the following message very carefully and you’ll understand my concern.

The keeper of this sign either needs to be fired, or should be heralded as a hero for managing to reveal a terrible and two-fold secret. In only eight words, we learn what goes into the restaurant’s hamburgers and why they need to hire a few more people. And perhaps, there’s still more to the story. Maybe this sinister recipe was there in the beginning with Dave Thomas, the restaurant chain’s founder. Perhaps all those years ago, Mr. Thomas chose to name his new restaurant, not necessarily to honor his daughter, but to tell us what (or who) was in his first round of sandwiches. And why would he do this? Because as many psychologists will tell you, secretly, some psychos want to be caught.

Do you see how far astray poor signage can lead someone? Well, it certainly didn’t lead me to the drive-thru.

Another example might be this:

Yes, long yellow things—or as humans know them—bananas. Again, either the creator of this sign needs to be fired, or he needs to be captured. My guess is the latter. The sign suggests that an otherworldly creature is working at this particular grocery store, and while it may have mastered its appearance, allowing it to live among us while formulating its plan for world domination, it has yet to master the English vernacular. The description of a rather basic fruit betrays its presence and identity.

Call in the men in black suits and be ready with a mop. I’m pretty sure there’s about to be a clean-up in aisle two.

Then there’s this sign on the exterior wall of a gas station near my office.

The maker of this sign not only needs a sign keeper’s proverb—if one is ever found—but he or she also needs to return to where we started with this little yarn and learn the one about making assumptions. First of all, how do you know the person’s ex-spouse is to blame for the divorce? Perhaps the ex-spouse tirelessly sought reconciliation and the one standing before the sign was the bringer of the marriage’s demise. Second, let’s say the ex-spouse is completely to blame. If this is true, how do you know he or she actually has a heart to which the beer might be compared? I know quite a few folks who’ve thrown their marriages away, and my guess is they don’t even have hearts, but rather a mass of blackened evil pumping oily and bubbling tar through their veins. Bubbling tar is not cold. The sign is full of assumptions.

Speaking of signs and assumptions—the Old Heaven Hill Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey has the words “Symbol of Excellence” on the label.

Excellence. What are we to make of such a term being used to announce a whiskey that’s good for little more than weed control in the driveway? Seriously, this stuff is a ground clear solution that kills to the roots. In fact, I’ll bet if I took the time to read the fine print on the whiskey’s packaging, I’d find instructions on usage, area coverage per gallon, and other notes touting that it becomes rainproof in thirty minutes and shows results in as few as twelve hours.

Ortho and Roundup have nothing on Old Heaven Hill. That should be the sign on its label.

The nose of this $8 whiskey is one that suggests its standard of excellence is something between rotting grass in the compost and rotting grass caked under the lawnmower’s carriage. Either way, it’s rotting vegetation of some sort. There is a little bit of something sweet in there, but my guess is that it’s either the Glyphosate or the Diquat dibromide, both of these being sweeter smelling components in most popular weed killer products.

After smelling the whiskey, the palate is shockingly better than expected. At first, it’s a bit sour, but then it takes a swift turn toward being a normal and drinkable Bourbon, giving over rye spices and a little bit of caramel.

The finish kills any chances of a long-term relationship. The vegetal sour returns, and in tow is the feeling that you should probably dump the rest of the bottle into a pump sprayer, being sure to add six fluid ounces for every gallon of water, and then make your way out to the pond to spray the algae. The frogs and snapping turtles will get a nice buzz, the pond will once again glisten in the sunshine, and you’ll have saved about $50 in comparison to the typical vegetation killers suitable for such a use.

After the job, perhaps a sign would be appropriate, something like: This Pond Maintained By Old Heaven Hill.