Plus ça change…

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chos…

The above saying is French for the more things change, the more they stay the same. And as an adage, it is often shortened simply to; plus ça change... Although I suspect you have to don a black turtleneck and take a drag of your cigarette right before you say it for it still to work

I remember so little French after four years of it in high school -or as my old French teacher, Fr. Kestermeier, used to call it-frog-speak– that I have to question what the hell I was doing all that time and how I passed. I assume it was sleeping during class and cramming for tests. Whatever the reason, I wish I would have taken it much more seriously now.

And that brings me to this train of thought; How many regrets does a normal person carry with them about their life? And why do we allow ourselves to keep making so many of them? My guess is we think we won’t regret something later, and that whatever it is we yearn for will pass. Breast implants? Maybe. But taking a trip with your spouse to the one place she always talks about, no way. And yes, she will have a new favorite place later, but you can go to that one too. 

I have been teaching myself Italian for ten years. And, honestly, I am awful. Really. I am so un-fluent that I could barely order bread from a monkey standing on a green ball holding a coffee while cooking in the kitchen wearing a yellow tee-shirt with a picture of two parakeets on the back. {The last sentence was brought to you by Rosetta Stone- making sure you know how to say all the words you will never have to. Seriously- shouldn’t the first phrases Americans learn in a different language be; Help! What? I don’t understand. How many calories is in this? the god damn bathroom! Do you speak English? F*%$! How much? Yes, I’m sorry about the Iraq War and spying on your leader. And lastly but maybe most importantly, are you two mocking me right now? thus, also needing, I know what you just said (even though you really didn’t). But I don’t remember ever having to say in English; I am a boy. You are a girl. The dog is running. There are three, yellow bicycles. Let’s eat!}

I regret quitting baseball in high school. I regret not spending more time with my grandmother before she passed. I regret not learning to sand a drywall seam better. I regret not taking my kids on a cross-country drive. I regret not finishing my Masters Degree in history. I regret not saying to some old guy, Your condescending attitude towards me would indicate that you think you are in fact smarter than I am, which is impossible based on what it is we are arguing about. Now get the hell out of my restaurant! when a customer berated me for not letting him use a diner’s card we didn’t accept. Instead, I let him vent, gave him his food, and sarcastically told him to have a nice day- no, a very nice day.

People regret all sorts of missteps and missed opportunities in their lives. They regret their jobs, their lack of exercise, spending three thousand dollars on the ugly fountain for their front yard, not paying more attention in marketing class, the paint color they chose for the house, not buying that fishing boat from the neighbor, thinking Dane Cook was funny once, not marrying their first love, not making their daughter join a monastery during her teen years, not starting that business they always wanted, starting that business they always wanted, and of course the big one, wishing they never slept with that one person- oh you know the one. But you know what? That’s fine. Regret away. That’s not my point. My point is we never learn from them. Whenever you hear yourself say the words should’ve, would’ve, could’ve, henceforth, therefore, or I just wish, try to remember that they are reminders, not just rationalizations.

My favorite banter in the movie Big Chill was when Jeff Goldblum’s character, Michael, is filming himself on the couch. He has the TV star Sam Weber, played by Tom Berringer, with him. Michael is trying to explain why he is the way he is and ends up making the bold statement that rationalizations are more important than sex. Sam looks at him and say, “Oh come on? Nothing is more important than sex…” To which the airplane-bed sleeper responds, “Oh yea? Ever gone a week without a rationalization?” Classic stuff. But so true, too. If we didn’t have rationalizations all that would remain would be the guilt and regret. Maybe that would be a good thing.

And don’t judge me for knowing every line of the movie word for word. Blame my mother. She watched The Big Chill at least twice a week when I was growing up. I can also tell you who sang Love will keep us together,* name who shot J.R,** tell you who Lenny and Squiggy were,*** and list the entire crew of the Love Boat.**** because of the woman. Plus, I cry every time Officer & a Gentleman or Terms of Endearment comes on. You know what though? I guess those aren’t really bad things. I mean, I sure don’t regret any of it anyway. Good times, mom. Good times. Speaking of Good Times; JJ Walker was Dy-No-Mite!

Now where was I? Oh, yea. So, instead of a “Wish List,” let’s all change the title to a “Do list” and start having less regrets. And you can regret not meeting your friends out for drinks last night because you were tired, just don’t regret losing touch with the same friends because you stopped meeting them- because you were always tired. Get it? Good.




*Captain & Tennille







**It was Sue Ellen’s sister, Kristen.






***The upstairs neighbors of Laverne and Shirley







*** Captain Stubbing, Doc, Isaac, Gopher, Julie, and Vicki Stubbing (who I am pretty sure, is in the top 5 for worst television characters of all-time****)







****Quick top 5 worst TV characters of all-time

  1. Scrappy-Doo
  2. Vicki on Love Boat
  3. Great Gazoo on The Flinstones
  4. Joanie Cunningham on Happy Days
  5. Jim Bullock on every show he was ever on. Personal Quote from Jim Bullock;  “I don’t mind playing anything as long as it’s work.” You don’t say? Gee, we didn’t notice. jim-j-bullock

This list may worry people about my TV viewing. And it should. Feel free to add to this list with more current and hip shows…

Published by Dave Mainelli

Small business owner, former International franchise business consultant, musician, father, husband, and writer. Served on the B.O.D. for Red Hen Press and Fine Lines Literary Magazine, an MFA in Writing from the University of Nebraska, and a teacher for Wayne State and Iowa Western. A short story collection, 'How To Be Lonely' due out January 2021.

3 thoughts on “Plus ça change…

  1. I will bring The Big Chill and Camelot over and we can watch again.The fun just never ends,does it? I’ve got a million of them!


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