Goody-goody Two-Shoes never breaks the rules. She colors within the lines. Has all her ducks in a row. Keeps to the straight and narrow. Doesn't step off the path. Toes the line. Observes traffic lights.
Does all this make her dull? Can she be goody-goody and interesting at the same time?
Oh. Here's an answer: nothing is either/or. That's the answer. Goody follows the rules AND breaks the rules. The difference between heaven and hell is figuring out which rules to follow and which to ignore.
Some of the distinction is context. I hate walking in New York City, where pedestrians ignore the red lights. In Toronto (in any civilized city, by my reckoning) if the light is red, you stand at the curb and wait until the light turns green. I think of it as a little respite from urban hustle-bustle, a chance to take a breath, to notice your feelings—well, to do whatever you want with that little gift of time. My point is that you have it. In New York City, however, there is no rest. The pedestrian hordes collecting behind you at the red light jockey for the opportunity to cross the street on the red as soon as they sense a break in the traffic. Sometimes they don't even wait for a break, but boldly charge ahead, trusting the cabs to stop before creaming them. Go-go-go is the name of the game. Standing in obedience to the red light brands you as a tourist and a goody-goody two-shoes, incompatible with the image of a with-it New Yorker.
In that case, I'm no breaker of rules. Nor do I shoplift. That's a very strange one. I had a friend years ago who managed a big discount box store. She often talked about "shrinkage" when discussing the store and its problems. As a textile person, I thought I knew what shrinkage was, but I was wrong. In her context, it meant shoplifting, which was such a widespread phenomenon that it had its own code word in retail.
And in my novel-reading I frequently encounter girls and even women who think nothing of lifting cosmetics, clothing, whatever they want, from stores. How can they do this? I apparently was so indoctrinated—either by my parents or by the nuns—that it never, ever occurred to me to take something without paying for it. (Add to this indoctrination a healthy fear of authority and the power of the law, and you'll understand that I really won't be shoplifting any time soon.)
What rules will I break? Well, I do jay-walk, especially on residential streets, though I am considerably more careful now (because I am less spry) than I used to be. The shortest distance between two points is the straight line. My rule is: whenever possible, take the hypotenuse.
I don't wear white after Labour Day, but then I don't wear much white even in the heat of July. (There are always exceptions, you must remember. A foolish consistency is the . . . and all that.) Hobgoblin, eh? There's a word you don't hear much of these days, except maybe in the four-week run-up to the New Halloween.
Rules I keep, rules I break. Most of those I keep are because of fear. Oh, dear. Did I just figure this out? I think I've known it for a while. But I do believe it makes me a Goody-Goody Two-Shoes at heart who only masquerades as a rebel. Why would Goody do that? One reason might be that the Goodys have a terrible reputation. The rule-breakers are universally admired as more interesting, leading exciting lives of unbridled exuberance. While Goody sits at home. Alone, presumably.
Well, this Goody explodes into the excitement of rule-breaking in the kitchen and in that skin-deep world of clothing. But you'll find her standing quietly, at rest, while she waits for the red light to change.