I am really looking forward to this weekend, and all the elements are in place for a great one: A low grader fever, a sore throat, a dry cough, an all-body ache, and fatigue. Sounds like the flu, People, and I couldn’t be happier, because getting sick is about the only time I allow myself to stay in my pajamas, read all day, take a nap, watch movies, and cultivate what the Italians call the lovely concept of Dolce Far Niente – the sweetness of doing nothing. Now I’m not talking about serious illness here…no stomach cramps or pounding headaches…just a commonplace influenza bug that leaves no doubt, and no guilt, about my inability to do anything other than hang out in bed.
Guilt, of course, is the main issue here, because I’m one of those people who feels like a slacker if I’m just sitting around while there’s anything that needs to be done…and let’s face it, if you’re a homeowner, or if you’re in a relationship, there is always something that needs to be done.
I wonder if you have ever had the following experience? You are sitting inconspicuously in a chair in the middle of the house, I say inconspicuously because you are doing absolutely nothing to draw attention to yourself, except for the fact that you are nothing, which to some partners, sets off a kind of alarm, that indicates that something is wrong, that there is an able body not doing something while things need to be done, and commences a line of inquiry that begins with the words, “Have you…” and ends with the word, “… yet?”
Now, it doesn’t really matter what you haven’t done yet. Nailing up a heavy picture frame, planting the bulbs, repairing a hole in the shed roof…feel free to substitute any task you haven’t gotten to yet.
What matters here is that you have been asked to do this previously, and your response, which is the total truth is, No. But I’ll get to it. This is a conversation that repeats almost any time I have not otherwise taken precautions to make my self look either busy with something else or invisible and results in an unsolicited opinion about the differences between men and women, usually along the lines of, Men are content knowing that tasks need to be done while women are not content until tasks are actually accomplished.
Now notice I’ve used the term partner here in order to be politically correct and inclusive, but I have no idea if this is a common conversation between same-sex partners or if they, too, live with a To Do list that hovers above them like an invisible twelve foot elephant in the room and never seems to get shorter no matter how many things have been done. I would guess they do not. Because if my wife’s theory about this difference between men and women is true, tasks would always get done expeditiously in a relationship between two women and things would never get done in a relationship between two men.
We all know the old adage about male procrastination, If a man says he’ll do something he will. No need to remind him every six months. And personally, I think this represents good solid thinking. Why do something now that you may not have to do in sixth months? Why fix the hole in the roof of the backyard shed when the shed may be demolished by the next winter storm? And why do it right? Which can take the form of instruction books or youtube videos, or simple discussions with guys who have done it before. This stuff takes time.
But to be honest, even if my wife is nowhere around, I simply can not give myself leave to squat on the couch watching a football game on a warm sunny Sunday afternoon. Instead I need to haul myself out to the garden to work and listen to it on the radio. Nor can I read a book in mid-morning if I haven’t gone to the gym, or simply stare at the maples on a warm fall weekend.
Doing nothing is easier on rainy days, I admit. It’s practically mandated during snowstorms, and of course, if you’re religious. Most religions encourage a periodic day of rest, which includes by the way, Cherokee and Wicca.
There’s a big weekend football coming up and the weather is expected to be sunny and in the 60’s. So for those of us who feel guilty doing nothing we need more than a six-pack or a plate of nachos to enjoy it, we need a fever, or at least a honking good head cold.
I’m Ira Wood…(cough)…and that’s my opinion.