Rob Hoffman
2 min readDec 20, 2021

Woulda Shoulda Coulda

. My father wasn’t a man prone to using cliches. My mother, that’s a horse of a different color. For example, if my mother heard one of her friends who was financially well off complain about money, she would say after she had left their presence, “You shouldn’t cry poverty with a loaf of bread under each arm.” Or if you told her how crazy life was because you were so busy and stretched for time, she would say, “You know Robbie, you can’t dance at two weddings at once.” Yes, for every occasion she was ready with a cliche’. My father, not so much. Oh, that’s not to say he didn’t have a few he liked to utilize if it suited the situation. It’s just that most of his cliches were in Yiddish so it’s more about the attitude he conveyed. than the actual phrase..

. Once in a while however he would drop a well-worn expression in English if he thought it was pertinent. One of his favorites was one of my least growing up. You see, whenever I didn’t complete a chore I had been asked to perform, or if I brought home a report card from school that was, oh I don’t know, underwhelming let’s say, he would ask for an explanation for whatever responsibility I had failed to come through on, and in turn, had disappointed him over. I would say, “Dad, I would have done better, except the teacher didn’t give us a fair chance to study.” Perhaps I might say that I could have done better, but I didn’t think it would be so hard.” There was also the ever popular, “I know I should have cleaned up the family room, but I was doing the homework that I barely had time to do.”

. At this point, he would look at me and say, with just the right amount of sarcasm and venom, “Yeah, woulda, coulda, shoulda, but you didn’t.” It cut me to the quick I tell you. It led me immediately towards that most depressing and fruitless of human feelings, regret. The problem with regret is that you can’t change what you did, you can only hope to learn from what you did and do better next time.