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Excerpted from Uh-Oh by Robert Fulghum. Copyright 1991 by Robert Fulghum. Excerpted by permission of Villard Books, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.  HTML and web pages copyright by SpiritSite.com.

"'Uh-oh' in this sense is a frame of mind. A philosophy."

Robert Fulghum, Uh-Oh , Part 2

If I had a chest pain, I might go to an emergency room thinking "Oh my God, heart attack!" It my doctor had the same symptoms, she might think, Uh-oh, gas pains, take an antacid, and go on with her work.

What to me is the last gasp of my old truck is a repairable electric problem to my mechanic. "Uh-oh, there's a short in your ignition wire."

One might even come to feel the same way about things that cannot be fixed. From the cradle we know about "Rock-a-bye-baby" and what happens when the bough breaks. In kindergarten we are reminded about these conditions. All the king's horses and all the king's men could not put Humpty Dumpty together again. I'm familiar with death, having been around it often in hospitals and cemeteries. If I see my own death coming, my response may well be "uh-oh."

"Uh-oh" in this sense is a frame of mind. A philosophy.

It says to expect the unexpected, and also expect to be able to deal with it as it happens most of the time. "Uh-oh" people seem not only to expect surprise, but they count on it, as if surprise were a dimension of vitality.

"Uh-oh" embraces "Here we go again" and "Now what?" and "You never can tell what's going to happen next" and "So much for plan A" and "Hang on, we re coming to a tunnel" and "No sweat" and "Tomorrow's another day" and "You can't unscramble an egg" and "A hundred years from now it won't make any difference."

"Uh-oh" is more than a momentary reaction to small problems. "Uh-oh" is an attitude--a perspective on the universe. It is part of an equation that summarizes my view of the conditions of existence:

"uh-huh" + "oh-wow" + "uh-oh" + "oh, God" = "ah-hah!"

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