Thursday, December 30, 2010

How To Save a Drowning Man

I used to feel guilty, and maybe I still should. But I don't know how many years I was working wishing I had more time. I have money, I'd think, from my job. It's time I need. Time to write and time to spend with my family and time to travel and do all the things you can't do when you're sitting in an office or a cubicle (Sue calls them veal-fattening pens) like do your laundry and go grocery shopping.

Then I got laid off, for the third time in my career, and whoo-boy did I have time. As my mother would have said, I had more time than I could shake a stick at. (Who shook sticks at anything, I still wonder.) But then it was money I needed. Man, you can't please anyone, can you?

The guilt came from from not being "a productive member of society." That means an employed member of society. I guess that also means a person who pays taxes, because I can't think of any other way I've ever been a productive member of society. Maybe when I coached my daughter's softball team, but employment had nothing to do with it. As a matter of fact, unemployment, or self-employment, which is what I had at the time, aided that.

But now I have time. I have exactly what I asked for, but in hindsight I wish I had wished for time and money. When they say, be careful what you wish for, they're right. Take my word for it, if you're wishing for something, if you're wishing for something really hard, make sure you have all your bases covered. Don't ask for time without money. I'm just saying.

So I use the time. I write a lot. I take care of the apartment. I grocery shop and wash the dishes and make the bed and wash the clothes and make bread just about every day and try to make good, healthy, cheap meals for us. I do a lot of the things women traditionally do. And when Sue mentions something like she doesn't like the napkins washed with the underwear, I listen and I don't do that, because I want to make her happy. Do I feel any less of a man for doing all this? Not in the least. I don't even understand why I should.

All this reminds me of that joke about a man drowning in the ocean. And he prays to God, asking for help. And then a helicopter comes along and drops a rope, but the man waves it off and says, don't worry, God is going to save me. And the helicopter flies off. And then a boat comes alongside him and drops a life preserver, but the man waves them off, too, saying, thanks, but God is going to save me. Then a dolphin swims along and starts pushing him to shore, but the man get irritated and shoos the dolphin away. And then the man sinks under the water and drowns.

He gets to heaven and the first thing he says to God is, I believed in you and you let me drown. And God said, I sent you a helicopter and a boat and a dolphin, what more do you want?

You got to be able to see when God drops a gift in your lap.

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