Your Inner Child Knows Best

There’s a slippery slope that happens in this life, and it doesn’t end unless you find yourself chasing the garbage man down the alley in nothing but your Buzz Lightyear boxers and a beltless bathrobe.  You might do this ‘cause it’s important; that trash is going to smell like dead hobbits the day after tomorrow.  And you may even rationalize it by saying, “That trash is going to smell like dead hobbits the day after tomorrow.”  But, you still know you’ve just stepped through the looking glass.  What was once an intimate detail, known only to your mother and a few significant others, is now available to the general viewing public.  More importantly, you hope none of your neighbours caught your Batman imitation on their cell phones.

We don’t all end up on Pinterest as “Meanwhile at WalMart” memes — but we could.  There’s a charming little voice in everybody’s inner adult that whispers “What the hell?  It’s only the Drive-thru.  This shirt’s good enough.”  So we grab the keys instead of listening to our inner child, who would scold us into, at the very least, changing our underwear.  (I was nearly 10 before I realized clean underwear didn’t actually prevent traffic accidents.)  It’s that same voice that urges us to wear pink with plaid and refuses to part with the UCLA T-shirt that was printed when Zorro was a boy.  We all have it.  Our parents warned us about it, but all of us still listen.  Bad mistake!

Back in the day, mostly mom (and sometimes dad) taught us that going out in public was a sacred trust.  People were looking at us, and we needed to show some respect.  Neat was important, but clean was essential.  As we got older, that sage bit of advice translated into sex, straight up and down.  You need to look your best because nobody is going to sleep with a slob.  Unfortunately, adulthood and cohabitation dulls the echoes of our parents, and more and more we end up relying on our own resources.

At first, it’s okay.  We dress for work, go out with our friends, flirt with the cashiers at the grocery store and leave our private face at home where it belongs.  However, eventually, those sweatpants are just too damn comfy not to get trotted out to mow the lawn.  But that’s okay too: we’re in our own yard, they’re clean, and they still kinda fit in the crotch.  Besides, they cover up that extra 10 lbs that’s been hanging around all summer.  Oops!  This is where it gets problematical.

As we get older, we tend to spread in all directions.  Clothes just aren’t as friendly as they were back when we were twenty.  And this is when our inner adult comes calling.  “Hey, buddy!  You’re a grown man.  You pay taxes.  You have a mortgage and a Mercedes.  You haven’t eaten liver or lima beans in 12 years!  If you want to wear socks with sandals, screw the hippie who says you can’t!”  And we listen.  But the socks with sandals (or your personal equivalent) are just the thin edge of the wedge.  Pretty soon, it’s only work, weddings and funerals that get a tie.  Family functions are all informal, and those sweatpants that kinda fit – question mark — have migrated from the back yard to the shopping mall.  It’s unavoidable.

The thing to remember, if you don’t want to end up dressing like Robin Williams in The Fisher King, is that your inner adult is a spoiled brat.  He thinks that whatever he says goes, and he pouts if he doesn’t get his own way.  You’re far better off to listen to your common-sense child, who’s very aware of what not to wear.  The parents explained it to him.

My point is that, as we get older, we all dress for comfort, not for speed, but you don’t get any points for running amok.  Therefore, it’s best to cool your jets or you’ll end up as the Flying Dutchman of the Internet, repinned and reposted as The Old Man in the Leopard-skin Leotard.

Women Get Stuff

I am painfully aware that writing about gender in these troubled times is like being the goalie on a javelin team, but I’m going to do it anyway.  Stereotypes be damned!  The truth has to be told: women get way more cool stuff than men.  Yes, I realize there’s the whole punitive underwear problem and, beyond Barbie, toys for girls generally suck. But look around you: women have tons more fun with life than men do.  Why?  ‘Cause they get all the good stuff.  Here’s a selection of evidence to prove it.

Sleeves — Women get more sleeves than men.  There are bell sleeves, cap sleeves, raglan sleeves, lily-point sleeves, bishop sleeves etc., etc., etc.  In fact, according to one source, there are over 40 different sleeves available to women.  And what do men get?  Long sleeves and short sleeves!

Hats — Put a hat — any hat — on a woman and you’ve got instant sexy.  Put a hat on a man, and unless his name is Indiana Jones, Humphrey Bogart or Che Guevara, you’ve got a candidate for Geek Of The Week.

Colours — Women get all the colours.  Men get several shades of mud.  Don’t believe me?  How many men do you know who are climbing the corporate ladder in a 3-piece, electric-blue hounds-tooth suit with ruby red shoes and matching belt?

Hair — Even Stephen Hawking can’t calculate the infinity plus one number of things women can do with their hair.  Meanwhile, on the other side of the chromosome patch, men have the faux hawk, the man bun and bald.

Shoes — I’m not even going to touch this one.

Stories — See a well-dressed woman dining alone in an expensive restaurant and there’s an elaborate story there somewhere.  See a well-dressed man dining alone in an expensive restaurant and … he just got dumped … like, 20 minutes ago.

And finally:

Girl’s Night Out — Girl’s Night can range from a drunken pub crawl through the streets of Maribor, Slovenia — where someone ends up with her panties in her purse — to Ramen Noodle Night with sweatpants, jasmine tea and vintage Ryan Gosling videos.  On the other hand, since the beginning of time, Boy’s Night has always involved a game, junk food, alcohol and the eruption of various bodily gases.

I rest my case!

Everybody Works (2022)

Everybody works.  Some work harder than others, some work smarter than others, but as each of us wanders along life’s incredible journey, we all have a relentless series of jobs to do.  Just to clarify – I’m not talking about gainful employment; I’m talking about all those nasty little tasks that haunt our otherwise leisured existence — everything from filling out income tax forms to assembling a Fridekgloben bookcase from Ikea.  This is the work that torments our souls.

Having survived on this planet for – uh – a number of years, I’ve done my share of personal chores and, without bragging, I’ve gained some valuable experience.  Here are just a few bits and bobs from what I’ve learned along the way.

1 – Every job takes longer than you think.  No matter how simple it looks or how comprehensively you’ve prepared, the task at hand is going to eat up more minutes than you bargained for.  (See items 4, 5, 6, 7 and sometimes 8 for a detailed explanation.)

2 – The rule of quarters.  No matter what you do, the first 75% of the job takes 25% of the time and the last 25% takes 75% — or more.

3 – Do as much as possible before lunch — cuz after lunch, you’re going to be useless.

4 – Something you need isn’t going to be there.  Whether it’s a particular medical receipt, a pinch of coriander, an account number or an oddly shaped one-use-only tool, there will be one item, that’s absolutely necessary to the task, which you either don’t have or can’t find.  This means you have to stop, search or go buy it – no other choice.  And, BTW, this never happens at the beginning of the adventure but always more than halfway through — when you’ve got everything torn up, half assembled, disassembled and/or spread out all over hell.

5 – There will be an essential piece of information missing.  Assembly instructions are notorious for this – the placement of Lock Washer #3 is a mystery known only to God.  Meanwhile, the Federal Government will not accept your tax return without an entry in Box 906a even though its purpose is a bigger secret than the contents of Area 51.  But the very worst are online forms that demand an encyclopedia of personal information and, after you’ve entered it all, flash the big red “Error” warning at you — while slyly refusing to tell you where the error occurred.

6 – The thing that’s supposed to fit … won’t.  Carpenters and plumbers know this and are skilled in Improvise, Adapt and Overcome, but the rest of us are utterly stunned when the last bolt’s too big, the connecting rod’s too short or the brand new muffin pans don’t fit in the oven.  The result is an extended period of swearing and weeping.

7 – The experience you gain from one task does not translate to anything else.  What you learned trimming the hedge doesn’t help you buy car insurance online.  Painting the porch and making a soufflé are straight chalk and cheese.  Every task demands a particular expertise, so whatever you attempt to do (unless you’re a poly-skilled professional, or spend your life watching YouTube) you’re going to waste a lot of time reinventing the wheel.

And finally:

8 – You can’t get there from here. – This doesn’t happen all the time, but it happens regularly enough to be included here.  Basically, there’s always a danger that the first touch on any project will set off a chain of disasters, each more expensive and time-consuming than the last.  The leaking faucet that eventually becomes a $5,000 plumbing job.  The birthday cake that ends up with a new stove.  The computer upgrade that resets your Netflix account to Serbia and your banking information to Good Shepherd Savings and Loan in Azerbaijan.  Seriously, I have a friend who tried to buy a paper shredder and is locked out of Amazon forever.  (Even they don’t know why.)

Yeah, we all have jobs to do, but I’ve discovered that only paid professionals and enthusiastic hobbyists get anything out of these mundane tasks.  The rest of us just have to grit and bear it.