Friday, November 4, 2011

unmade bed It's a Guy Thing

I’ve been a bachelor for the past 4 months while my better half stayed in the Adirondacks with our 2 dogs and the cat.  They’ve had a great summer there: my wife has re-discovered the photographic beauty in the mountains; the dogs got to run free, the cat couldn’t get enough of the birds and mice, and me – I turned our Brooklyn apartment into what looks like a bachelor pad.  I’d better do something about this sorry situation before my wife returns.

For those of you who don’t know or remember how bachelors live, let met elaborate.  Making the bed – nope, just going to get back into it tonight. Putting away my shoes – why, they’re easier to find spread out around the apartment’s floors.  Towels – since I only use them after a shower, how dirty can they get?  The same water that cleans me in the shower cleans the tub too – right? Dirty clothes – simple piles eliminate the need for sorting later on.  Doing the laundry – after all this time I don’t think the colors will run.  Washing laundry in hot water – why not, the way I buy clothes they’re never going to shrink too much for me.  Washing the sheets – it’s only me so once a month outta do.  High heat when drying – that gets the wrinkles out. Dirty dishes – keep piling them in the dishwasher until full – that’s a good way to know when to run it.  All those attachments on the vacuum cleaner are way better than dust cloths.  Butter – leave it out – it’s easier to spread on toast when soft.  Milk – the nose knows when it has finally run past the “sell by” date – and aren’t those dates only guidelines anyways?  Dinner – best served in front of the TV – and those paper plates are a great invention. Menu selection – the same thing 7 nights in a row works – either from the leftovers or just getting the same thing over and over (hey, ya gotta know what you like)!  Peanut butter and jelly have all the food groups covered.  Breakfast – OJ from the container is quick and saves on the washing. Figuring out where to put whatever I am using – that’s easy: on any flat surface I can find.  And watching endless reruns of Law and Order is a real entertainment treat.  Life is good!

Walter Cronkite used to say “And that’s the way it is…” as his way of signing off each night on the CBS News – worked for him, but I don’t think it’ll work for me when she walks back in here.  So – what to do? No problem, I’ll just clean it up.  Uh, there’s more here to clean now than I thought.  I never knew how many places dust could build up on and in, and I didn’t know how hard it was to go around and pick everything up and put it back in the place it’s supposed to be, and I didn’t know how dirty a refrigerator could get and how hard those caked on stains could be, and I didn’t know so many other things that I took for granted because my wife always made sure they were done.  You see, guys just don’t know about some things.  Look, I’m not completely clueless, I just act it sometimes.  I love doing the dishes, but that’s not enough.  I love running the vacuum, but that’s not enough.  I love washing my own clothes, but that’s not enough.  I love eating dinner and watching TV, but that’s not enough.  I’ve gotten sort of used to being alone, but that’s not how it is when you’ve chosen to be with someone else.

I know what should be done – I just got lazy.  I know what I need to do now – but I may not have enough energy or time to get it done.  And here’s where my mother’s words come back to me (or to haunt me)…”Never put off to tomorrow what you should have done today”.  And here are the words that immediately ring out in a guy’s mind when he hears that: “NO KIDDING!”  How come we take our relationships for granted like this?  How come we procrastinate like this?  How come we get lazy and let questionable habits like these get started?  I had such good intentions when the summer started, and my initial attempts at doing things the right way, were good.  But the first time I didn’t do one thing the rest of these other things just started piling up around me.  What’s that rhyme: “oh what a tangled web we weave….”?  The truth is, you should always do what you’re supposed to do, when you’re supposed to do it.  Laziness is a bad habit – and there’s just no excuse for it!

Well, you know how this movie ends: there aren’t enough hours in the day to do what needs to be done after leaving it undone for so long.  I’ll clean and sort and put away and straighten stuff right up to the time my wife walks back in; she’ll graciously acknowledge all that I’ve done and quietly notice all the things I didn’t do.  She won’t say anything – she never does, but more importantly she won’t have to.  I’ll know it, she’ll know I know it, and she’ll hope that maybe I’ll remember this the next time.  And that’s another guy thing: our uncanny ability to forget this kind of simple lesson the next time.  I’d like to think it’s an inoperable or immutable DNA flaw. But it’s not.  It’s a guy thing.

My message this week is about doing what you should be doing, no matter what.

Arte Nathan
 “He is not wise to me who is wise in words only, but he who is wise in deeds." 

-St. Gregory

Pope Gregory I (540 – 604), better known in English as Gregory the Great and St Gregory, was pope from 590 until his death. Throughout the Middle Ages he was known as “the Father of Christian Worship” because of his exceptional efforts in revising the Roman worship of his day.

I think that what Pope Gregory was trying to say is that “talk is cheap”.  You read all the time that successful people both walk and talk the talk, but what’s that really mean?  There are people all around – at work, home and in the community – who watch and listen to what you say and whether you really mean it.  And the proof is in how you act and what you do - it’s not enough in today’s world to only superficially address things, or to only do half of what you say and promise. All the talk about transparency means that everyone can see and assess everything you do, and they always judge you by those things.  So be wise today, not just in the words you use, but in the deeds you do.  Remember – be wise is words and deeds today.

Stay well!

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