Rules for fools

We all know the basic rules of dividing up shame in a relationship. Your mother must have taught them to you, or maybe your brother, or father did. (Or maybe you learned them from George W. Bush). But to refresh you memory, here it is:

Fool me once, shame on you.

Fool me twice, shame on me.

Simple, and therefore very easy to remember. It also makes sense intuitively. But it’s also so very inadequate, albeit understandably so. Not many of us have ever needed to know the rules beyond those two.

However, these days we get fooled almost daily, thanks to the Internet, and especially the social media. The current archaic set of rules is not enough anymore.


Here’s a more complete list – the full protocol:

Fool me once, shame on you.

Fool me twice, shame on me.

Fool me three times, well, shame on you again.

Fool me four times, a quarter of the shame on you, three quarters on me.

Fool me five times, 45 percent of the shame on you, 55 percent on me. (Let’s haggle!).

Fool me six times, and you make me think sexy time. “Es not nice.” I feel shame.

Fool me seven times and shame on your father, and your father’s father, and your father’s father’s father and you father’s father’s father’s father – if you ever had one, which I doubt, you son of a motherless goat.

Fool me eight times and you have to buy me lunch, a real lunch, with drinks and everything at a place of my choosing. And when it’s time to reach for the bill, I’ll get to pretend that I’m about to take it, but I’ll just push it over to your side.

Fool me nine times, “fool me, fool me, go on and fool me, love me, love me, pretend that you love me”.

Fool me ten times, then like a toothless Canadian hockey player you go to the box, you know, two minutes, by yourself, you know, and you feel shame.

Fool me eleven times, and it’s, well, it’s starting to be boring. Whatever, buddy. But I suppose we do need to spread some shame here so let’s just blame it on your mother. Shame on her. Then shame on me for blaming it on your mother. A-ha! Shame judo!

Fool me twelve times, and win an iPad! US residents only. Not valid with any other offer. Some restrictions may apply. Must present coupon at time of fooling. One coupon per person. Not valid on Saturdays or Sundays, or on national holidays. Shame not included.

Fool me for a thirteenth time, and … my oh my, aren’t I the gullible one. This is almost too embarrassing. Obviously, though, I am incapable of feeling any sort of shame because I keep dealing with you. Anyway, what am I going to do with two Brooklyn Bridges?

Fool me fourteen times, then advance token to the nearest Railroad and pay owner twice the rental to which he is otherwise entitled. If Railroad is unowned, you may buy it from the bank.

Fool me fifteen times, and a painful feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behavior shall be placed upon you!

Fool me sixteen times, take two aspirin and call me in the morning.

Fool me seventeen times? Well played, Mr. Copperfield, well played. But I promise you, that next time, I will figure out how you do it. Care to make it interesting and put your money where your mouth is?

Fool me eighteen times … ha ha ha. HA HA HA HA. HAAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. You’re such a jerk! Enough already! No, you’re the greatest, man. Where do you get it all from? [Idiot].

Fool me nineteen times and it’s pretty obvious we’re best friends. Who else would take this time after time, day after day, year after year? This is who we are: You the fooler, me the foolee. Come on, buddy, come here, let me give you a hug. I love you, man.

Fool me twenty times, and it brings us back to d’oh, oh, oh, oh. Shame on you.

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