9.10.2020 – ten hen remember

ten hen remember
24 karat goldie
thou shalt not covet

One weekend when I was a kid, my cousin Jim and his wife Ruth were visiting my family in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

How conversation turned to the 10 Commandments, I do not recall, but I DO recall what happened next.

My cousin Jim mentioned that he had come across a mnemonic device for remembering the 10 Commandments.

He got out this pamphlet with odd little drawings and catch phrases and walked us through it.

I grew up in a family of 11.

Most of my childhood memories involve a group of skinny blond haired kids with glasses running around.

This memory is no exception.

I can see us all gathered around my cousin at the kitchen counter, reciting the mnemonics in unison or one at if called and all of laughing and laughing.

It was every bit as silly as “The Memory Lesson” of John Cleese but it worked.

To this day, I can rattle off the phrases and even, with a little help, recreate the odd little drawings.

The mnemonic for the 10th Commandment came to mind today.

The phrase goes something like this:

10 Hen

Hen on an egg

The egg is labeled 24 Karat Goldie.

The hen is eyeing (with a dotted line) that 24 Karat golden egg.

10th Commandment.

This was about how in-depth the sketches were

Thou shalt not covet.

I don’t know about you but the Commandments always seem better in the King James English.

There were some other devices to the drawing to include the verse number, 17, from Chapter 20 of the Book of Exodus but I can’t remember that part.

But 10 hen, 24 Karat Goldie is chiseled into the bedrock of my brain.

The complete verse reads, “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s.”

To me, going through the 10 Commandments, Number 10 always seemed to be a bit of an add on to get to 10.

It just wasn’t up there with not killing, stealing or lying.

Then today, I read this passage in the story, “Come on kids, let’s get back to normal! (But listen: if gran dies, it’s your fault)” by Joel Golby.

Mr. Golby wrote, “What the Conservatives understand better than any party is that peculiarly English tendency to get quietly furious with anyone you perceive to be having an easier time than you.”

Mr. Golby was writing about the UK.

I have no problem swapping in ‘American’ tendency for ‘English’ tendency.

And when I made the swap I had to stop my day.

I had to stop my day as if I was hit with a brick.

It all was if the mists cleared and I saw it ALL clearly.

What was driving the fear and the pandemic concerns and the economic worries and the election reactions was the perception that somehow someone might have an easier time than me.

10 hen, 24 Karat Goldie swam up into my consciousness from the bedrock of my brain.

I look in a mirror?

What do I see?

Do I use the mirror to reflect myself?

Do I use the mirror to correct myself?

Just for fun here are the mnemonics as I remember them …

1 bun – budda on the bun – no other gods before me

2 shoe – hammer and chisel working on the show – make no graven image

3 Tree – Tree is filled with $ # @ ! % signs – Do not take the Lord’s name in vain

4 Door – Name on the door is S.A. BATH – Remember the Sabbath

5 Hive – Bee hive with mail box out front – on the mailbox is painted Mom & Pop – Honor thy parents

6 Sticks – pile of sticks like on a clock – sticks at Noon to Six – 2 to 8 and 4 to 10 – in the middle is a knife – Shalt not kill

7 Heaven – castle (as marriage) that is broken in half – do not commit adultery

8 Gate – thief with a mask looking at you through the gate – Shalt not steal

9 Pine – Christmas Tree with the block letters L I E wrapped up as presents – Shalt not Lie

10 Hen – Hen on a 24 Karat Gold egg – hen is eyeing that egg – Shalt not Covet

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