Don’t Stand on Buried Chicken, or A Baker’s Dozen Rules for Living

History: Technically, this one might be cheating, because I published it on another blog in 2009, in a version revised from 2002, when I put it up on a website. Originally conceived in the mid 1980s, the list was complete in this form around 1999 or so. My business manager thinks I should print the rules up on t-shirts.


1. If your vehicle stalls on the tracks, run toward the train to avoid flying debris.

2. Pause often to tidy your area.

3. Dress in layers.

4. Seek higher ground.

5. When all else fails, punt.

6. In the event of an emergency, break glass.

7. Remember the rules.

8. Conserve energy.

9. Never eat more at one meal than you can hold in two hands.

10. Along with the quest for consistency, an enlightened tolerance should be practiced.

11. All lies are true.

12. Measure twice, cut once.

13. Don’t stand on a wolf’s chicken.


9. A corollary for the one-handed: Never eat anything larger than your head. This used to be known as the Walter Corollary, for Walter Cuirle, who suggested it.

10. This is the true copy editor’s code.

13. Whereas the rule is probably self-explanatory, think of this as commentary: From a book about animal behavior, the upshot of the story is that if you have a wolf for a pet, you’re an idiot, but if you do have a wolf for a pet, and the wolf gets hold of a chicken and buries it for later, and you go and stand on the spot where your pet wolf buried his chicken, you shouldn’t expect the wolf to be all mellow about it. The wolf will feel threatened even if you don’t know you’re standing on the chicken. Maybe Rule 13 should be Don’t stand on buried chicken.

© 2009 Julia Duncan