Let’s face it. We’re all busy. Life now is much harder than it was back in the days before cell phones, the internet and Roomba vacuum cleaning robots. There’s barely enough time in the day to update our Facebook status, let alone find time to see if our kids remembered to make themselves dinner before putting themselves to bed.
In a more primitive era, say around 1989, life was far less complicated. People had much more time to show appreciation and be considerate of others. But thanks to social media and 982 cable channels to choose from, our lives are much more hectic. Nonetheless, it’s still important to try to be polite – okay, maybe not that important come to think about it, but still something to think about when you’re not too busy admiring your own reflection in the window at Prada’s. Here are some common courtesy guidelines to ensure you extend every bit as much consideration to others as do, say, Kanye West and Kim Kardashian.
Tip #1: Cell phone etiquette: One thing we can all agree on is how much fun it is to talk on your cell phone anytime, anywhere. But when using your phone in public, be sensitive to people around you. When yakking on your phone to your buddy Eddie while watching a film in a crowded theatre, smile at the person next to you and whisper, “This will only take a minute. The game is in sudden death overtime.”
[Note from the staff at VFTB: Last week Tim Jones wrote a piece called “Wedding vows I don’t remember making.” This week, Tim’s wife Michele has requested equal time for a rebuttal. Tim is confident his wife’s piece was written with as much love and sensitivity as Tim displayed in his post.]
I read my husband Tim Jones’ post last week titled Wedding vows I don’t remember making. I love my husband very much, and when I say “love” I mean, I put up with him. Can I be honest? Being married to a humor writer is no picnic. It’s almost like living with an eleven year-old, except that I don’t want to belittle the maturity of any eleven year-olds out there.
I have so much to be thankful for, being married to you, my husband / man-child, these past 26 years. I want to thank you for:
… your never-ending concern that I might get over-heated on a winter’s night from having too many blankets covering me and your thoughtful habit of yanking all those blankets to your side of the bed in your “crocodile death roll” maneuver in your sleep.
… your willingness to educate me about defensive pass interference in football. Thank you for being so flexible about our television viewing options each evening too. You’re always so willing to let me choose, so long as it’s ESPN 1, ESPN 2, ESPN Classic, or whatever channel broadcasts the Lingerie Football League.
It’s Valentine’s Day – a day each year when millions of us husbands take time to show our wives just how much they mean to us, before we go back to complaining about them to our male friends the other 364 days. Today, I’m thinking about all the joy my wife has given me these past 26 years. It’s the little things mostly, like when she gently reminds me for the fourth time that I forgot to take out the trash, or her endearing habit of nagging me about my weight whenever I reach for a donut, or her playful quips about how she’d be living in a far nicer house if only she had married that other guy.
I fondly recall that magical day when she and I walked down the aisle and both said, “I do.” I remember the vows we made to love, honor and cherish one another until one of us decides to kill the other. Admittedly, I was so lost in happiness that day that I may have forgotten a few details. Now, as I think back on our 26 years of wedded bliss, it seems that list of wedding vows must actually have been much more extensive. Here are some of the other vows I apparently made on that special day:
My dearest darling, I promise you, for as long as we both shall live…
…that I will respect you as my equal and never ask you to do a household chore that I would not be willing to do myself – with the addendum that I agree to killing all bugs like the icky spider in the bath tub, for that is a “man’s job” for which it’s perfectly reasonable to interrupt my Sunday afternoon nap even though you could have killed the damn bug simply by stepping on it with your shoe.
Recently two states legalized the recreational use of marijuana: Colorado and my state, Washington. And as a result, their football teams (Seattle and Denver) are headed to the Super Bowl. That’s why I enthusiastically voted for passage of this law. And I want to apologize for my decision. I had no idea that legalizing weed would unleash a tidal wave of chaos, lawlessness and nonstop ESPN clips of Richard Sherman ranting that he is the best corner back in the history of the universe.
For years, my parents, my minister and my 7th grade science teacher, Mr. Curtis, warned me about the dangers of marijuana. The critically acclaimed 1936 documentary film Reefer Madness proved conclusively that even a single puff of marijuana could lead to a life of heroin addiction, crime and attempting to French kiss nuns during mass.
The evidence is overwhelming that prolonged marijuana use can interfere with one’s ability to concentrate and inhibit one’s motivation. In a 1987 study of rhesus monkeys, researchers found that those monkeys who had routinely inhaled marijuana over a six-month period displayed no motivation to accomplish anything constructive, instead opting to lie around and pick fleas out of their fur. Critics of the study’s findings argued: “What did you expect? Were you waiting for them to draw engineering plans for the next space shuttle? They’re rhesus monkeys, for fuck’s sake.” Critics of legitimate scientific studies often use very coarse language.
Whew! That was that a close call. There was a point earlier this week when I thought I might never see my kids again. Worse yet, I feared that my final blog post might be last week’s lame rant about Sarah Palin. How humiliating. I live in Seattle, and for the past ten days, the entire city has been hunkered down in the grips of an arctic blast so bone-chillingly cold that most of us wondered if we’d ever again be able to venture outdoors in December in flip flops and shorts.
You see, normally the high temperature in Seattle is required by law never to dip below 45 degrees any day from November through May. That’s because of the nearly permanent cloud cover that acts like a thermal blanket to keep us from ever needing to put on gloves or a scarf – which we still do anyway because we Seattleites are extremely fashion-conscious. Oh sure, we might have the occasional fleeting cold front that dips the high temp to 43. But we are a hardy stock. We’ve been known to weather conditions as low as 41 with only mild bouts of panic.
All of that changed last week when suddenly, freakishly, the clouds mysteriously parted. Temperatures plummeted to the low 30s by day and – I kid you not – into the teens at night. It was excruciating. It was chaos. And the only way to survive the brutal blast of frigid air was to put on, say, a Burberry overcoat and matching scarf, and perhaps a pair of J. Crew cashmere-lined suede leather gloves, accented by some Uggs. Now that I think of it, staying indoors might have worked too.
I love my wife. Don’t get me wrong. She’s a great life partner, but she’s a lousy sports partner. The problem is she is utterly clueless about sports. Like any patriotic American, I’m a huge sports fan: baseball, football, Australian rules lawn bowling, you name it. But my wife is, how can I put this delicately – an artist.
My wife could no more tell you the number of points in a touchdown than the location of home plate in baseball. Oh sure, she’ll tell you she likes sports. But to her, sports consists of backpacking through the woods or climbing a rock face. Those aren’t sports. As any red-blooded sports fanatic knows, sports require two essential elements: a high def flat panel 56” TV and a large cheese-stuffed, meat-lover’s pizza.
I first suspected my wife wasn’t into sports early in our marriage. One evening, I had to work late so I missed the Monday Night Football game. I called home to ask her the score. After five minutes trying to convince her that pro football indeed could be played on a day other than Sunday, she checked the TV and reported: I have no idea. But I think they’re in extra innings. Seriously, I’d have better luck finding the score in the credits of Breaking Bad than by asking my wife.
My wife will happily tell any random stranger she meets that her husband is far from perfect. On a scale of 1 – 5, I think she’d probably rate me a 2.4.
Okay, so I’m not perfect. When it comes to my looks, I’d give myself maybe a 6 out of 10. My taste in clothes? Perhaps a 4 – although my wife would score me a 1.5 if we’re talking about ties. (What’s wrong with a paisley tie adorning a Lacoste shirt anyway?) My humor writing ability? Hmmm. Are we grading on a curve?
My point is I have plenty of shortcomings, but if you ask my wife, she’ll tell you – especially if you’re a complete stranger – that my most irritating personality quirk is my compulsive need to rank…everything.
For example, in writing this week’s post, I chose Arial 9 point because it’s always been one of my five favorite fonts (right after Comic Sans and just ahead of Garamond). Okay, I admit it. I do have a tendency to rate and rank stuff. I can’t resist asking other people to rank things too. For me, it’s an ice breaker. I’ll often start a conversation with, say, a waitress at a BBQ ribs restaurant, with, “Hi, Carla. Nice rack you got there. Quick question: Which three states would you least like to live in?”
Great news for all of you who have passed the big 50 milestone and are depressed that the best part of life may have passed you by. It has, of course, but be patient. In just 19 years you’ll feel happy again. That’s the findings of a recent study by the London School of Economics. The study determined that 23 and 69 are the two ages at which people are the most satisfied with their lives. And every age in between pretty much sucks.
According to the study’s findings, we experience several up and down periods, peaking at age 23 before dipping in a long, slow decline of satisfaction with our lives by our mid-50s, after which age our happiness rebounds, peaking again just before age 70. After that, for most of us, there really is no point to go on living. So if you’re planning on having a mid-life crisis, the study suggests 55 is the perfect age to plan on having your world shatter into a million meaningless pieces.
Why 23 and 69? Because they’re prime numbers? Good guess but no. (And to those of you who just got out your calculators and figured out that 69 is not a prime number, congratulations.) According to the study, at 23 you are confidently picturing an optimistic future of wealth and career success, probably with an attractive life partner and 2.5 well-behaved kids who get into Princeton on a full-ride merit scholarship. Perhaps you’re already envisioning that second home in the Hamptons or on Cape Cod.
[This week, Tim Jones turns the keys to his blog over to Tuxedo, a 23-pound spokescat representing the views of household cats everywhere.]
Hey, owner. This is your cat. There appears to be a little confusion as to just exactly who’s in charge here. I know, I know. You pay the electric bill, pay the insurance (whatever that is), and you buy all the food. That does not make you king of my castle. I’m afraid I’m going to have to go over the ground rules one more time if I’m going to allow you to stay here.
I think we can both agree that I am pretty low maintenance. Heck, I sleep 20 hours a day, so the least you can do during the other four hours is drop what you’re doing and pay full attention to me – starting with my meals. I have to say a monotonous diet of Meow Mix day after day is not exactly my idea of haute cuisine. And what’s with the dry food pellets? Do I look like a rabbit? Please have your chef start preparing more interesting entrées for me. Might I suggest steak tartare or perhaps Lobster Newburg?
While we’re on the subject of dining preferences, need I remind you that the toilet is mine? Its primary function, we both know, is as the receptacle for my drinking water. I’m willing to let you share, but for God’s sake please make sure little Princess Sarah remembers to flush after she tinkles. It’s gross. You don’t see me taking a pee in her sippy cup, do you?
Over the past few years, I’ve noticed I’ve begun to put on a few pounds. I noticed this primarily because my wife kept saying, “Hey, you’ve put on a few pounds. When are you going to do something about it?”
In my younger years, I used to treat my body like a temple. But lately my body has become more of a Temple of Doom. So I’ve decided to do something about it.
I tried various fad diets: the Nothing-but-fruit diet, the Everything-but-fruit diet, the Mango & Salmon milk shake diet, the “All-You-Can-Eat-Just-So-Long-As-It’s-Cabbage” diet. None of them worked, in part because I usually gave up after about 40 minutes.
I recently discovered – much to my chagrin – that there are no short cuts to fitness and good health. So I came up with eight very simple daily commitments in the areas of fitness and nutrition. I once raced in the New York Marathon. (Okay, meandered might be more accurate description of my pace.) Heck, by comparison, this should be a piece of cake. Drat! Now I’m craving a piece of cake.