A while back I discussed the rule of four, introducing the idea that there is a long list of things that, if you have four or more of them, indicate insanity. Innocuous things like bumper stickers and tattoos made the list last time. This time around, we’ll be talking about the more major things. Things that, if you break the rule of four, might really start to mess up your life, or perhaps someone else’s.
In my opinion, the optimal number of children for a couple to have is three. Some may say that this is an example of bias, since I come from a family with precisely that many children. Before you judge, though, hear me out. I have LOGIC! First, if the purpose of procreation is to increase the population of your species, then three is the minimum number that achieves this goal. If you have an only child, you are actually decreasing the global population, which is noble perhaps, but counter to the purpose. Likewise, two kids is just replacement value for you and your spouse. Nope, three is the minimum. Once you hit four, though, you start entering a very special territory. Five or six will probably get you the “catholic family?” comments. If you hit the double digits, I assure you, people are going to start talking. Not only that, but you aren’t so much the leaders of a household at that point. You’re pretty much a pair of tribal elders trying to keep control of a clan of unruly, unreasonable, and generally anarchic primitives. Did you bring home chunky peanut butter instead of smooth? Good luck quelling THAT uprising.
This is another point of bias, since I live in a city where approximately 60% of the average day is spent finding parking, but cars are a clear instance of the rule of four. The formula for the ideal number of cars for a household is at most one per driver, plus one optional utility vehicle. That means that the average couple should have at most three, but ideally two. As always, I have supporting evidence. Think of garages for a minute. What’s the most popular size of multi-car garage? That’s right, two car. Assuming you have a spot in front of the house, that works out to a maximum of three cars while still maintaining accessibility for all of them. Once you hit four cars, particularly if you are one person, you start falling into a group of categories that are less than ideal, to say the least.
You may be the kind of guy (and yes, this is the sort of area where guys are more frequently guilty) who feels compelled to gather cars as status symbols. That’s fine. Nothing says “I’m a confident, successful alpha male” like putting yourself in lifelong debt in order to impress people you don’t know. Whatever it takes to make you feel confident, I guess. You know what makes me feel confident? Knowing that I haven’t allowed the fear of what other people might think of me to motivate me to dump $50,000 on a car that I will then hide in a garage for fear of theft.
The other explanation is that you’ve developed a very expensive hobby. I can’t fault you for that. I bought a 3D printer, for crying out loud. But even when it comes to classic cars and the like, maybe stop at four. Once you get beyond that, you run the risk of having to buy a hangar to keep your cars in, then passively allowing a once great network to attempt to walk all over one of its most loyal and beloved stars in the hopes that in the rubble of the poor management decisions you will be able to step back into a job that had grown stale in your grasp a decade prior. Also you might end up with a big chin.
Like tattoos, piercings are frequently used to express individuality and generally make you different. Now, we will ignore the fact that if everybody who is trying to be different gets a piercing, it is somewhat self defeating. Piercings in general have gained a fair amount of acceptance, and over the years the allowable number has ticked slowly upward. For women, two has always been okay. For guys, eventually having one wouldn’t cause too much of a stir. Nowadays it isn’t that uncommon to find a woman in your office who has piercing in each ear, one in her nose, and one in her lip. The same goes for men, more or less. If you go much higher, though, you slip quickly into the section of the public consciousness set aside for sideshow freaks, cultists, and various other “those kinds of people.”
I don’t have any problem with piercings, with a handful of exceptions. One that is a little overboard is when you have a couple of dozen of them up and down your ear. It isn’t that I think that doesn’t look good, because fashion is usually the last thing on my mind. The issue is structural. You have essentially perforated your ear, like the page of a notebook. If you ever get in a fight, or walk past a particularly large magnet, you’ve got a problem, because you’ve given yourself a tear-away ear. Also, whereas the male nipple is strictly ornamental anyway, and thus is free to be accessorized with no consequences, the female nipple may be called into service. As such, the addition of hardware could leave your offspring with a weird taste in their mouth. Just something to think about.
This rule of four has a technical exception, in that it deals specifically with visible piercings. If you take the piercings generally hidden from view into account, women can get away with seven or eight total, and men with… MAYBE five. Once again, exceed those numbers and the general view of you will be “that weirdo with all the piercings.” In this case, though, that might be what you’re after, which would make this “The Quota of Four.”
And so we come to the end of another pointless list. If you are aware of any other things that fall into Rule of Four territory, let us know and we may expand the list. Otherwise, just remember, next time you are considering purchasing a new car or punching another hole in your flesh, do a quick tally and decide whether or not this is a statement you really want to make… And then do whatever you want, because taking advice on life decisions from an obscure website is no way to live.