Many years ago I read a Dennis the Menace cartoon that was so funny and insightful that I never forgot it. Why? I call it the Perspective Lesson. Do you have a perspective on this?
Dennis the Menace was the Calvin and Hobbes of 40 years ago. Unlike Calvin, Dennis had his own TV series and cartoons on TV.
Between the two, there’s more introspective thought from Calvin. Dennis merely was mischievous, and most of the time– but malicious? No.
My lesson came from Dennis’ lemonade stand. Try to imagine for a moment, Dennis the Menace setting up a lemonade stand on the sidewalk in front of his house.
The sign on the lemonade stand said, “All The Lemonade You Can Drink For 5-Cents.” The stand had a pitcher of lemonade, a few glasses, and Dennis.
Out comes Mr. Wilson, the near octogenarian, and Dennis’ adult nemesis. The conversation goes this way.
Mr. Wilson – “Whatcha got there, Dennis?”
Dennis – “It’s a lemonade stand, Mr. Wilson. Want some lemonade?”
Mr. Wilson – “Well, let’s see, Dennis (Mr. Wilson bends over to read the sign). All The Lemonade You Can Drink For 5-Cents.”
Dennis – “Yes, Mr. Wilson.”
Mr. Wilson – “Let me have a glass, Dennis (Mr. Wilson pulls a nickel from his pocket and plunks it down on the table). Here’s your 5-cents.”
Dennis pours a glass full of lemonade with a few cubes of ice, and Mr Wilson takes a drink, then another, then tips back and empties the glass.
Mr. Wilson – “Dennis, that was very good lemonade. Did you make it yourself?”
Dennis – “Yes, Mr. Wilson, but my mom helped.”
Mr. Wilson – “Well, it was so good, I’ll have another glass, Dennis.”
Dennis – “Yes, Mr. Wilson. That’ll be 5-cents.”
You can see the conflict lying in the road, can’t you? Mr. Wilson was in no hurry to be hoodwinked by his little neighbor. He held up the empty glass of lemonade so Dennis could clearly see the error of his ways.
Mr. Wilson – “Uh, Dennis, your sign says, ‘All The Lemonade You Can Drink For 5-Cents.’ ”
Dennis – “Yes, Mr. Wilson. And that’s all the lemonade you can drink for 5-cents.”
Our view of life often is about perspective. Mr. Wilson chose his perspective based on the facts (the sign). Dennis chose his perspective based on the same facts (his sign, and the intent of the sign).
If Dennis knew latin, the sign would have carried an asterisk, with a sub-label that said, Caveat Emptor.