Essential work

April 23, 2020

As I slowly morph into the couch I occupy daily, Carol strives to maintain social distancing from the spore of a mushroom I am inexorably becoming. The problem for her, I believe, is that she fears I’m not afraid of becoming “fungible” (to coin a new and unexpected meaning of the term), And in this, Carol is correct.

It has occurred to me during this quarantine that I was truly born to be an Aborigine. As a member of this tribe, I would be the one appointed to sit in a thatched chair on a beach all day watching the surf roll in and reporting back to the chief all the random thoughts that would have occurred to me that day. Of course, it would have to be a tribe where a great majority of the members preferred to devote their working lives to productively attending to the actual needs of the tribe in terms of food, shelter and discovering medicinal plants. Those members would also have to be satisfied with someone like me, for whom they would conclude the tribe would be better off (and safer) with me sitting on a beach rather than trying to, say, plant potatoes or determine which plants can cure disease and which cause instant death.

“I maintain a level of personal hygiene that remains well above that of a third world country’s standards.”

That I might in fact be an anthropological misfit is a more reasonable conclusion than the other ones I’ve considered (namely, I belong in another dimension of time and space or that I was meant to be an animation, such as, say, Wile E. Coyote or Elmer Fudd.) On the whole, I wouldn’t mind being part of a remote and primitive civilization where there existed no needs or ambitions beyond a simple loin cloth and a spear for fish. (I would not have been provided a spear to go with my thatched chair, the thought being, with a pointed object, I’d be more of a danger to myself or the actual fishermen.)

So with a coffee pot and plenty of coffee in the house, Carol has nevertheless sought occasional refuge from the sight of me mimicking a mollusk on the sofa by making a trip to a nearby Starbucks for an afternoon frappuccino – as much for a caffeine jolt as to create an errand to just get out of the house.

Carol has also all but forbidden me from helping with household chores for the simple reason of giving her more things to do. She realizes the fine line she’s walking between keeping herself occupied and abdicating her responsibilities regarding the Discipline and Development of the Useful Husband. For my part, I’m still working diligently to avoid devolving on that score. Though there’ve been notable exceptions, I continue to ensure I’m out of my morning jogging clothes by 1:00 p.m. I maintain a level of personal hygiene that remains well above that of a third world country’s standards. And I believe I’m keeping up an active and diverse lifestyle by reading three different ebooks at a time.

I’m aware I may be pushing a limit here, and I’ve hit upon a measure that will tell me if I’ve gone too far. When Carol starts putting my dinner in a bowl on the floor and trying to teach me to rollover and sit up, I’ll know I’ve gone too far.

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