Proverbial Parachutes

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Fri Jun 18 01:14:30 UTC 2010

At 1:46 AM +0100 6/18/10, Benjamin Zimmer wrote:
>On Fri, Jun 18, 2010 at 1:36 AM, Benjamin Zimmer
><bgzimmer at> wrote:
>>  On Fri, Jun 18, 2010 at 12:36 AM, George Thompson
>>  <george.thompson at> wrote:
>>>  "You pull the ripcord on the parachute you packed," he said. "Not the
>>>  parachute you wish you had packed."
>>>  NY Times, June 15, 2010, section A, p. 16, col. 5 (continuation of first
>>>  page story "Efforts to Repel Gulf Spill Are Described as Chaotic")
>>  Very nice snowcloning of the original, which is of course Donald
>>  Rumsfeld's "You go to war with the army you have, not the army you
>>  might want or wish to have at a later time," generalized to "You X the
>>  Y you Z-ed, not the Y you wish you Z-ed."
>Sorry, spoke too soon. Rumsfeld himself was snowcloning, since there
>are earlier examples of the template, going back to the poker
>expression "You play the hand you're dealt, not the one you wish you
>had." Google Books has an example from a 1992 congressional hearing
>("But we have a saying in poker that you have got to play the hand
>that is dealt you, not the one that you wish you had") with some
>earlier variations on the "play the hand you're dealt" theme.
Not as resonant to my ear as the versions with repetition.  Here are
3 that I just googled up, all from military/political/ideological
contexts rather than actual references to poker:

you have to make do with the hand you're dealt, not the hand you wish
you were dealt.

You take the hand you're dealt, not the hand you wish you were dealt.

But I do know you have to play cards with the hand you are dealt, not
with the hand you wish you were dealt.


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