Eighth Blog: The "Rule of Three" Rules

So a priest, a minister and a rabbi go into a bar... I'm sorry, you already heard this? Okay, a guy on a desert island finds a genie in a lamp who grants him three wishes... Oh, heard that one, too?... Alright, a farmer has three daughters, each with a date lined up for the night... Well, excuse me; who knew you were so well read?!... And that's where I stop, in my obvious, straightforward, bald-faced attempt at acknowledging how "3" seems to be a pattern that we, as people, find comfortable. Notice, too, how I gave three examples of jokes, three adjectives regarding my attempt and now a third instance in this sentence? Yep. Uh-huh. Indeed.

You've got to admit, there's something about the juxtaposition of three depictions that seems right when telling a story. Maybe it's because it falls into the "once is an accident; twice is coincidence; three times is a pattern" aphorism. Either way, no one's gonna be content if just two guys walk into a bar (not enough info) or if suddenly the farmer has four daughters (overkill). And that's why people sit, enthralled, gazing up at the big screen, taking in "The Three Stooges", "The Three Musketeers" or "Three Men and a Baby". Add or subtract a man, musketeer or a stooge and what you've got is an abandoned movie complex.

And while the "rule of three" fits nicely into the joke-telling and movie genres it also a staple in our daily conversations. Notice how often we employ the triplets in everyday lingo. She's not jonesin' for a good-looking guy; no, he has to be "tall, dark and handsome". He's not just chill; he's "calm, cool and collected." I'm not only gonna fool him; I'm gonna see that he falls for it "hook, line and sinker." And make sure you get it done, even if you have to to "beg, borrow or steal" and when you do, have it "signed, sealed and delivered."

This triple threat is also deeply rooted in history, from the Olympics motto, "Citius, Altius, Fortius" (faster, higher, stronger) to Caesar's "Veni, Vidi, Vici" (I came, I saw, I conquered) and the Declaration of Independence's "Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" along with Lincoln's Gettysburg Address regarding a "government of the people, by the people, for the people." And while we're talkin' classics I'd be remiss if I left out "Truth, justice and the American way" attributed to The Man of Steel, The Last Son of Krypton... i.e. Superman.

Indeed, most of our relationships with threes tend to be positive but, like everything else in life, there are some negative connotations. For everyone being "granted three wishes" there's a "three strikes and you're out". And while "the third time is the charm" the "third on a match" can spell disaster. And yeah, it's always nice to receive "three cheers" but just remember "bad news comes in threes".

For sure, just like any other major player in the game, the threes have their share of posers and wannabe's: "Stop, look and listen"? I'm pretty sure anyone capable of walking and chewing gum at the same time can still be on the move while they look and listen. And for the "Ready... Aim... Fire!" can we just aim and fire? I mean, you've got the rifle so you're pretty much ready already. And finally, someone worthy of getting the third degree... the realtors. "Location. Location. Location."... People, can you be any lazier?! How 'bout I help you out: "Location. Curb appeal. Open concept."... Was that so hard? You're welcome. Goodbye. Sayonara.  Au revoir.