November 30, 2000
Rest in Peace
While at a friend's house recently, I noticed something very important. Every time the poor guy sat down and got semicomfortable, his wife would ask him to get up and do something. She just couldn't stand watching him relax.
"What do you need, honey?" he asked.
"I need a bowl off the top shelf. I'm afraid if I climb up, I'll fall," she said.
Oh, I thought, it's okay if he climbs up, slips and cracks his head.
Moments later, after he sat back down again, his wife reappeared in the doorway, spatula in hand, and said,
"You look nice and comfy." He was being set up.
"I am," he said.
Big, big mistake! Never let on to your wife when you're comfortable. Admitting this is the kiss of death. Hide your comfort at all costs. If you have to tell her that the springs in the couch are drilling a hole in your spine, do it. "When you get a minute," she said, "would you please take out the garbage?"
Whenever a wife says "When you get a minute," it means it should have been done an hour ago, and if you don't do it now, there will be hell to pay.
The words you never want to hear from your wife are, "Stay there, I'll do it myself." "Myself" denotes oppression. "Myself" denotes that if things don't change, good night and sleep tight.
I suggested to my friend that we try an experiment. "Let's take this same conversation we're having now while sitting down and let's have it standing up. Let's see what happens," I said.
So up we went and stood by the garbage in the kitchen where we continued to talk for 33 uninterrupted minutes. Oh, a few times his wife, knowing we were up to something but not quite able to figure it out, walked by and asked in a very friendly tone, "What are you two doing?"
I then told my pal to throw out the garbage and let's go sit back down to see what happens. About two minutes after we were seated very comfortably, his wife walked in, saw us relaxing and asked him to get some chairs from the garage. By the way, she didn't need these chairs for two more days.
My father was a big fan of relaxing on the couch. In fact, he was a big fan of relaxing anywhere, anytime. I remember one time going shopping with my father and mother. My father stopped and stood staring at a hammock. If he had his way, he would have had his name embroidered on that hammock, crawled into it and never gotten out. (Women never buy hammocks for themselves.) My mother, standing next to him, asked him what he was looking at. He said innocently enough, "The hammock. I always wanted a hammock."
"For what?" she said.
"To lie in," he replied.
She stared at him like he was some sort of crazy person. "Really? When do you think you are ever going to have time to lie around in a hammock?" she fired back.
He shrugged, then nodded his head in the "You're right, dear" position and slowly walked away, looking back at the hammock, thinking "Goodbye, buddy." I guess some things are not meant to be. A few years later, my father died tired and hammockless.
I don't know what women have that is the equivalent to a man relaxing. My experience is most women don't ever seem to relax. They don't ever seem to stop doing things. Their reason, as my mother was famous for saying, is "If I don't do it, it won't get done." Or "Who's going to do it? You?" I believe, for the most part, women are very right about this. I know that my wife has to stay on me to get me up and going as much as possible.
Men think everything is a baseball game. We think we can take a field-level seat at home and just watch what goes on in the house. Look, I know I have a lazy bum in me that just wants to lie around. I know I'd rather sit in my underwear and watch TV than dry a dish or feed the dog. I know if my wife handed over most of what she does to me, within a few weeks the children would look like something out of a Dickens novel and the state would eventually come and take them away. Next would come the people who tent homes for bugs. The kids would be thrown out of school because I'd drop them off around noon and not pick them up till 8:30 p.m.
I know I need to be told to get up and do something; otherwise, I won't. But it's my nature to lie around and do nothing. And thanks to my wife, I fight it every day.
Truth be told, I am like my father before me. I also want a hammock. I would love to have one placed in front of an air conditioner so every time I swung to the right, I would get a breeze of cool air. And when I swung to the left, there would sit a big pile of chocolate chip cookies. Yes, I would love to rock my life away. But I can hear my wife saying in my mother's loud and clear voice, "When do you think you're going to have time to lie in it?" And thank God for my wife, because for the most part she's right.