Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Things I Have Learned to Like

In the interest of fairness, which as we know is the most important virtue in American life, never mind that no one can define it, I have decided to devote a column to things I have learned to like. Last week's column on things I have learned to hate brought in a ton of viewer mail, most of it focused on how unfair it was for me to criticize “Beijing” (I still say Peking was fine) and Mao Zedong (Mao Tse Dung is the name: always has been, always will be. He killed 70 million of his own people, using super-scientific, compassionate Communism. No name changes for uber-criminals. It's the law). So, a list of things I have learned to like:

(photo by mattlogelin)

This has been a very slowly acquired like, but my wife has succeeded, after 25 years, in showing me the way to bliss. I used to hate it, but I actually like to go food shopping now, and as for Lowes and Home Depot, forget about it. A tip: never go on the Lee Valley website without a “buddy” - you can drown in red ink there. You will buy tools that you will use once in a lifetime, if that often. But they are so beautiful, and when they come in the mail – ach, words do not suffice.

NCIS. My kids got me hooked on this show, and we watched 5 seasons of it in about 4 weeks on DVD. The only problem is that being limited to new shows now is a complete bummer. I was getting used to coming home, taking off my coat and jacket and sitting down with everyone to gorge on NCIS and re-heated spaghetti. Now we have to wait until Tuesday nights, and it is just not the same.

Yard work. I don't know when this happened, and believe me, it is a complete surprise, but somehow I like it now, especially the first big job in the spring, when the winter and the dogs have had their way, unhindered, for 3 months. Clean up is like magic – all of a sudden I like the back yard again. I think this “like” is related to the next one, because most of yard work, at least the first spring cleaning, is throwing things away. YES!

(Photo by Malingering)

Throwing things away. Yes, I am a thrower-outer. My wife is not a thrower-outer. She is a saver. Few things make her happier than saying “look, here it is, I have saved this for 14 years and now I need it, isn't that great?” I think a big part of my fondness for throwing things away is that I am lousy at filing things, and truly horrific at finding them after I have filed them. I hate the whole process, as a result. Whenever I have to put things away I know, in my heart, that this is totally futile, I am never going to find this when I need it. So why not throw it away? It saves me the futility of looking for it in the future. Somewhere down the road maybe I will have a sudden epiphany, and will begin patiently and lovingly filing and labeling things in such a way that I can find them in the future. So far, no dice.

Leaving golf balls that are lost, lost. I don't go golfing to look for balls in the rough. I go golfing to hit shots. As I explained above, I hate looking for things. So I cast my eyes on the rough. If I see the ball, fine. But you won't find me thrashing around in bushes and tall grass looking for a lost ball. Besides, if the ball got lost once, don't you think it is going to get lost again? I would say so. I say there is something wrong with the ball, and good riddance. The shots it will cost me on the score card are well worth the peace of mind generated by casually dropping a ball, rather than searching for 10 minutes. Besides, who am I kidding, as if those lost shots are going to ruin my golf score at the end of the day.

(photo by Richard Carter)

Watching golf.
This is a taste acquired over years. One day one of my children asked me “how can you watch this? It's so boring.” And it hit me then: that's exactly what I like about it. It's boring, quiet, and deliberately slow. All things that my professional life is not. All things I have come to crave, desperately, as I get older. At least it's not as bad as my friend, Will, who said his children criticize him for listening to golf on the radio while they are in the car. That's got to be the best: listening to a golf tournament. Wow.


  1. Lee valley: We refer to the Lee Valley catalog as "tool porn." Akin to Guitar Player magazine, which is "guitar porn." Which would make Pottery Barn decor porn, I guess.

    I don't know about golf, but people around here listen to Nascar races on the radio.

  2. Love it. Being the throw away person who lives with a saver I understand completely. The thing I hate about saving is at some point you have to either clean it, move it or organize it - all of which I hate more than not having it when I need it! Mom

  3. I love watching golf. About ten years ago I figured out why. It's because if I'm watching it then it's the Masters, and that means that while it's muddy, gray, and cold in New England, what I'm watching is green, azalea-strewn, and sunny. Plus soothing.

    What's not to like??

  4. 1. shopping - yes I can and do..way too much.
    2. long time NCIS fans here also.
    3. yard work - my relaxation. I take care of the lawn & gardening here. The lawn mower & shed are mine. I love playing in the dirt!
    4. Due to my shopping habit I'm more of a pack rat than hubby likes.
    5. No comment on the golf thing. We watch a lot of HGTV and DIY...which gives me shopping ideas and projects. No time to golf.

    I'm really trying to cut back on the shopping so I can cut back on the working. That would leave more time playing in the yard and travelling. I greatly dislike house cleaning but love outside dirt.