Let’s address quotes I find mildly annoying.
She’s writing to her good friend Avis DeVoto:
You display the true marks of a Great Gourmande … which always includes the warmest and most generous of natures … and is why people who love to eat are always the best people.
That last bit has been quite popular with a self-selected group, who I imagine love to eat and love even more to be thought of as one the “best people”.
Here’s the problem: People who love to eat are not always the best people. I know a handful of foodies who are frankly not very nice people.
In her context, Julia was perhaps right. If she was anything like Meryl Streep played her in Julie and Julia, I can see why she found everyone around her wonderful: it was a reflection of her personality.
But it doesn’t apply to most people.
There’s another reason why I don’t think such generic quotes are true. There was a time when I believed musicians were the best people. Some point later, I believed hikers were the best people. I even convinced myself that each of those activities had some quality which would cause only good people to enter the field. With time, I stood corrected.
Another oft-quoted line is by Marilyn Monroe:
If you can’t handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don’t deserve me at my best.
The reason this annoys me when quoted is because Marilyn was referring to herself at her best. The person quoting this is often referring to their best, which in most cases makes the whole tradeoff so not worth it.
Then there is M.K. Gandhi’s quote:
First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.
The thing is, he never said it.
Although I’m slightly okay with this one. This is meant to inspire; the others were vain. If you’re doing something meaningful thanks to a misattributed but inspiring quote, who am I to complain?
Feel free to add to the list.