Matter of Laugh or Death
By Bill Dunn
Interesting observations on this thing we call life
WHERE DO THEY GET THE ENERGY?
My wife and I went to a cocktail party the other night, but we had to leave early because we were exhausted. We weren’t tired from being out too late—it was barely 8:30 when we said our goodbyes. Instead, we were fatigued from listening to other people describe their exhausting schedules and activities.
“I hated our living room carpeting,” a woman with three young children explained. “So one Saturday morning we just ripped it up and refinished the hardwood floor.”
“You mean you hired a contractor to do the work?” I said.
“No. Dave and I did the whole job,” she replied. “It was fun.”
My wife and I made eye contact. Fun?
“You did this all on a weekend?” I asked.
“Well, no,” the woman confessed. “I had to fly to the West Coast to give a presentation. But when I returned on Wednesday night we finished the floor.”
“You flew home from the West Coast and immediately started working on a hardwood floor?” I said incredulously, knowing that when I drive home from, say, the west side of town, I need to take a nap on the couch.
She nodded with a smile, as if to say, Why, of course, doesn’t everyone? Before I could ask another question, she began to discuss her daughter’s Brownie troop (the woman is the troop leader, naturally) and the cute little craft projects they created for people in nursing homes.
Whatever energy my wife and I possessed seemed to drain from our bodies as we listened to that woman speak. We excused ourselves and staggered away on rubbery legs, afraid that if we stayed any longer we would soon be receiving craft projects from Brownie troops.
But no matter who we talked to at the party, it was the same. The room was filled with nothing but Martha Stewarts and Bob Vilas. And in one extreme case, a Martha Vila, a woman who simultaneously re-tiled a shower stall and baked authentic Bavarian cookies, pausing only to run out and sell a few parcels of real estate.
We finally found a quiet place to sit down off in the corner, away from the cacophony of oppressive achievement. “What’s wrong with us?” I asked my wife. “We don’t do any of those things. I get lightheaded just thinking about it.”
“Apparently we belong to a species which requires occasional sleep,” my wife answered. “All these people must be from the planet Adrenaline.”
Just then a man joined us in the corner and began discussing his latest landscaping project. Besides being an attorney, a Little League coach, the president of the Rotary Club, and a 3-handicap golfer, this man found the time to hand-transplant every blade of grass on his two-acre yard.
Fearing that we were moments away from dissolving into puddles of inert molecules, my wife and I summoned our remaining strength, struggled to our feet, and excused ourselves. “I’m sorry,” my wife said, “but my authentic Bavarian cookies are just about done. I have to go home and take them out of the oven.”
“Yeah,” I added. “The hardwood floor I put in the shower stall is just about, uh…hard. We have to leave.”
We got into our car—which was easy to find as it was the only one not hand waxed on a weekly basis—and drove to our home—which was also easy to find as it was the only one where the vinyl siding had not been hand polished this month.
As we walked into our comfortable living room—where there was no priceless King Louis the Fourteenth furniture, just some King Bob the First discount furniture—we flopped onto the couch and put our feet up on the coffee table. (Try doing that in one of those Stepford Houses and armed Propriety Police will suddenly appear, wrestle you to the floor, and drag you before the Tacky Tribunal.)
My wife and I decided from now on we’re going to accept invitations to cocktail parties only if the guest list consists solely of people who are just like us: way too tired to attend cocktail parties.
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