Life is a Grand Adventure

I don’t like dreaming. I don’t like the feeling of weird and inexplicable things happening; I don’t like the feeling of being out of control, and mostly I don’t like having to deal with any nightmarishness. I read once that if you wanted to remember your dreams, to take Vitamin B6 before bed, so I immediately stopped taking any B vitamins before bed, and that certainly aided my ability not to recall dreams.

That being said, there are a few dreams that seeped through the B block, dreams that I recall even decades later. In one such dream, I was being led from one elevator to another. When I got out of each elevator, I had to ascend few stairs, so although I was descending deeper into the earth, it seemed as if I were actually going up. I came out of the final elevator to the top floor of a round arena. At the bottom of this round room, a woman stood at what looked like an altar, and through a loudspeaker, I could hear someone saying, “You are now 6,000 feet beneath Death Valley.” At the time, I took that to mean I would be soon dying, but apparently not, because I am still here.

I seldom dream about Jeff specifically, though I have the impression he is a constant companion in my dreams as he was in life. A handful of dreams during the first years after he died were about him specifically. In one such dream, he came into my room, stood at the foot of the bed and touched my blanket-covered feet. He then climbed onto the bed, on top of the covers, and cuddled up to me. He was in his underwear, and in the dream, I knew he’d come from where he’d been sleeping, though I had the impression he’d been with someone, as if he had another life. He said, “I miss you.” When I woke, I felt as if he’d come to see me one last time, though I have no idea what is true when it comes to life, death, and especially dreams.

In another epic dream, I was walking in the desert under a clouded white sky. The sand was pure white and windswept. No vegetation grew in that desert. No dark rocks relieved the hilly expanse of white. It was all just . . . white. As I walked, three white horses sped across my path, then four white bunnies in a bunch, then one at a time, two small white squarish creatures I could not identify, and then finally, one immense white owl. I thought, “I must be dreaming because such magical and mystical things don’t happen in real life,” but that world and my feelings of reality were so solid, it didn’t feel like a dreamscape. Still, I tried to peel back the veneer of the dream and wake myself up, and when I didn’t wake, my dreaming self figured that what I had seen was no dream.

Last night’s dreams, though vivid, weren’t as epic as any of these, but still memorable for the insights they offered me. The first one was brief, just a walk on part. Literally, a walk on. I was walking with an indistinct person when that person stopped abruptly and said to me, “Boy you sure do take short steps.” In the dream, I made a mental note to take longer steps, and when I took my walk today, I made sure not to take baby steps as apparently I have been doing.

In the other dream, I was young, perhaps in my twenties. An old man, a friend of sorts (who wasn’t anyone I know in real life), told me to save my money so that when I was old I could go on a grand adventure, that everyone needed one grand adventure in life. The “me” in the dream thought, “Even if I never go, I’ll still have my adventure. Life is a grand adventure.” For just a minute, after I woke up, I retained the sense of being young with most of my life ahead of me. When the truth dawned, that I was old, and that I’d already gone on a grand adventure, I just shrugged it off, but I did remember what I’d thought in the dream, that life is a grand adventure.

It made me smile, this reminder that whatever else it is, with all its ups and downs, triumphs and traumas, life really is a grand adventure.

Despite these two dreams seeming to be my own subconscious speaking to me of things I should be aware of, I will still make sure to take my B vitamins early enough today so that I don’t dream again tonight.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.

Tired of Being Nice

I’ve been mulling over a rather strange concept recently. The other day, I was helping someone, and I heard myself think, “I’m tired of being nice.” That rather shocked me because I don’t often have stray thoughts hijacking my mind, and besides, being nice is sort of my defining characteristic. I am unfailingly pleasant and agreeable, not overly effusive or extravagantly generous, just . . . nice.

I wouldn’t even know how to be not nice, assuming I could figure out what that would be. Rude? Selfish? Unpleasant? Disagreeable? I couldn’t be those things — I am too empathic, too aware of other people’s feelings to purposely upset anyone even if they don’t deserve my consideration. (Like people who are rude to me.)

Even when I border on being not nice, I am still nice. For example, a few weeks ago I had to visit the house I’m taking care for an absent friend and fire the fellow who was working for him because the friend needed the money for an emergency. The fellow was distraught, pulling his hair, wandering in circles, frantic about what he was going to do because they had no food to eat and he wouldn’t be able to buy the phone card he needed.

I felt bad for him, but I also got tired of listening to his problems, so I gave him money for his phone card and some food. I also gave him ten dollars to do a couple of small jobs for me (paint a doorframe and a part of the railing leading up to the house). It does sound like much pay for the jobs, but they should only have taken him about fifteen minutes. I know because he never showed up and I had to do the work myself, and that’s how long it took: fifteen minutes.

The point of the story is that yes, I was nice, but not for a particularly nice reason. Still, he got his phone card and some groceries, so that was good. Unfortunately, it didn’t solve any of his problems. I saw him a few days ago, and he had another slew of problems to lay on me. This time, I just listened and said I was sorry for his troubles. When he said he intended to pay me back, I told him to forget the money and went about my business. There was nothing else I could do; his problems went way beyond anything my niceness could solve.

After cogitating about this whole “tired of being nice thing,” I still have no clue what I meant, except to pay attention to the first three words. “I am tired.” I’d read once a long time ago that when people said they were tired of such and such, it often simply meant they were tired, and I think that’s true in this case because I fell asleep reading and slept most of this afternoon.

Some part of me might still be tired of being nice, but at least I’m not tired.

***

What if God decided S/He didn’t like how the world turned out, and turned it over to a development company from the planet Xerxes for re-creation? Would you survive? Could you survive?

A fun book for not-so-fun times.

Click here to buy Bob, The Right Hand of God.

Lost in Time

Last evening, for just a minute, I mentally lost track of the days. I normally don’t keep track if I go for long periods with nothing planned, so I frequently don’t know what day it is, but I generally have a sense of where I am in the week, whether it is at the beginning, middle, or end. But yesterday, I hadn’t a clue.

It was a bit disorienting, sort of like being on the verge of waking up from a deep sleep and thinking you have to go to school then you remember it’s Saturday and anyway, you’ve been out of school for decades. I couldn’t immediately go check my phone to find out the day of the week, so I tried to think of something I did during the day to give me an idea of where I was.

I finally remembered I emailed my time sheet that morning, something I do only on Thursdays, so I was able to reorient myself. But yikes. What a strange feeling that was, being lost in time.

It makes me wonder how important time is for our well-being.

[I had to pause here to look up the spelling of well-being. I wanted to use two words without a hyphen, but spellcheck insisted it was one, unhyphenated word. It turns out that the hyphen is correct because when you combine an adjective and a verb, the hyphen is necessary for the words to become one. It used to be that the hyphenated version was correct in the USA and Canada, and the non-hyphenated version prevalent in other English-speaking countries, but the word has started to lose its hyphen in North America now.]

Whether knowing where I am in time is important for my well-being, obviously, being grammatically correct is.

Before there were days of the week to keep track of, maybe it didn’t matter. People were always where they were supposed to be, in their family or clan or tribe or whatever, so it didn’t really matter what day it was. Until increasing populations and civilization made days of the week and calendars imperative, I imagine there were no days but today and yesterday and perhaps tomorrow.

[Why isn’t it tomorrowday? I had to stop to find out this vital fact. “Morrow” is an archaic word meaning “the following day,” so tomorrowday would be redundant. Tomorrow used to be hyphenated — to-morrow — until the fifteenth century when it became one word, so losing hyphens isn’t simply a sign of modern laziness.]

I seem to have strayed far from my topic, which is . . . me. Well, me being lost in time. So far today, I know exactly where I am. Saturday, perhaps. Or maybe it’s Sunday. I’m joking; actually, it’s Friday. I think.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of intriguing fiction and insightful works of grief.

Pretending

The theme of the book I finished read last night was about lies, both ancient and not so ancient, and how those lies changed people and places even decades later. A secondary theme was about what makes a home a home. It wasn’t a particularly enthralling book; in fact, the story was rather predictable.

At the end, the female character was walking down the aisle, to “her friend. Her groom. Her home.” And suddenly, I was sobbing. I hadn’t been emotionally invested in the story, so my reaction to the ending surprised me, though perhaps it shouldn’t have. It was a reminder of what I have lost and that I am alone. Even worse, that I am alone at Christmas. Jeff and I never celebrated Christmas except by default, sort of like my Jewish friends who watch movies and eat Chinese food since there’s nothing much else to do, but it’s still an emotional time of year for those of us who are alone.

I don’t have to be alone, of course. It’s my own choice not to try to shoehorn myself into other people’s family gatherings despite their kind invitations, but whatever the reason, I will be alone while others are celebrating with their loved ones.

The upsurge of grief didn’t last long, not more than a few minutes, but it did make me wonder how much I’ve been lying to myself, merely pretending to be happy in my new life. I focus so much on the good things and the things I can do, such as having a house and friends, creating a home and a garden, and that focus blocks out the unpleasant truths, such as Jeff being dead and me being alone (and lonelier than I admit even to myself).

But those sad thoughts disappeared in the bright light of morning. Today I’m fine with no lingering aftereffects of that reminder of my loss. I also have no lingering afterthoughts about my contentment being a pretense. It might, in fact, be a pretense, like a kid playing house, but I don’t see what difference it makes. As I keep saying, what it comes down to is taking each day as it comes, being grateful for what comes, and letting go of old hopes and dreams to concentrate on creating new ones.

Which is what I am doing. There is a certain amount of pretense to hoping, dreaming, and recreating a life for oneself, and that pretense is what helps bring forth the reality. So if I am pretending, it’s all to the good.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.

Being Myself

It’s no surprise that people all over the world have ill-formed ideas about people from the USA, and that we have ill-formed ideas about people from other countries. Unless one is well read (meaning a familiarity with books by various authors from various countries on various subjects), one’s perceptions are created by the media. It’s the news agencies — national and international — that decide what is worth printing or talking about or recording, and decent people going about their daily activities of taking care of themselves and their families are not fodder for news. Instead, the world is fed a constant diet of articles and editorials showcasing the worst behavior of people in the United States, for example.

That’s the same here. The worst behaviors are newsworthy, and so that’s what we hear about. If I only knew of my fellow citizens by what I read in newspapers or see on television, I’d be disgusted, too. Luckily, I don’t read newspapers or watch television (except sometimes with the older woman I help care for), so I am free to make up my own mind — without preconceived notions — about the people I meet. I have also defriended people online who are so single-minded they can never conceive that their ideas, fostered by the media, can be wrong, and so they perpetrate the same myths about the horror of life here in the USA.

It’s a good thing, too, that I accept fiction for what it is — made up stories told by people with their own particular world views — otherwise, I’d really have a bad idea about this country. When so many books detail murders and serial killers and vigilantes, you’d think this truly was a terrible place to live. As would be Canada and Britain and France and Scandinavia and all the other places where the books I read take place. All those countries would also be places that are riddled with ghosts and things that go bump in the night as well as enough heat from sex scenes to add to the ambient temperature.

Wait!! I just thought of something. Around the same time that global warming began to be heavily touted, books began to serve up steamy loves scenes at a greater rate and greater heat than ever before, a direct result of ebooks. People who would not be caught dead reading soft porn paperbacks could suddenly read such fodder without anyone knowing, and “hot” books proliferated. Could there be a connection? (You do know I’m being facetious, right? At least, I think I am.)

If grief — and my writing about grief — has taught me nothing else, it’s that we are all so much more alike than we ever imagined. I have “met” people from all over the United States, from every economic strata, from cities to farms, as well as people from all over the world. And we are all suffering the same sorrows, all going through the same patterns of grief, all missing the one we love.

So, in my own little way — just being myself, writing about my grief, my trips, my dreams, my life, and now my house and yard — I am promoting a sense of peace and amity (and sanity) so often lacking in the news media. I don’t delude myself that it makes a big difference, but I’m not adding to the negativity, either.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.

The Limelight

I’ve never thought of myself as particularly conceited or self-absorbed beyond what is normal and healthy. In fact, I tend to be more self-effacing than is probably good for me and am seldom comfortable seeking the limelight.

[I had to pause here to look up “limelight.” Interesting to note that it actually was a “lime” light — a cylindrical piece of the mineral lime that when lit produced a bright white light that was used to light theater stages in the early l800s. By the late 1800s, “limelight” had already taken on its present meaning of being the center of attention.]

Despite my unease at being the center of attention, there are times that I enjoy being noticed, or should I say, there are things about me that I enjoy being noticed. For example, my car. When I took my various trips, from coast to coast and border to border, it thrilled me that so many people noticed and commented on my vintage VW. It’s the same with my hats — people notice me because of my fancy headgear (actually, it’s not me they notice but the hats. Without a hat on my head, I’m not sure as many people would recognize me).

And now, I have my grass. When I am out there watering, passersby all comment on my gorgeous lawn. The color is bright, for one thing, and for another, there I am, in the middle of November, watering the greenery when everyone else has let their grass turn brown. Of course, “everyone else” hasn’t recently spent a small fortune on their lawns, so it behooves me to take care of my investment.

[Yet another aside: my silly self is acting up, wondering if a horse can be said to be behooved.]

You’d think my books would be on that list of accoutrements that bring me notice, but although they originated with me, they’re not part of my personage. You can’t tell I’m a writer by looking at me the way you can tell that I am “Pat in the Hat.” In some way, my books don’t feel as if they are a part of me at all, though I do take the credit when someone tells me they like one or another of my tales. Now, if I were a recognized “name,” things might be different, and who knows, there still could come a time when I can test that theory.

But for now, I take my fame — and the limelight — where I can get it.

***

What if God decided S/He didn’t like how the world turned out, and turned it over to a development company from the planet Xerxes for re-creation? Would you survive? Could you survive?

A fun book for not-so-fun times.

Click here to buy Bob, The Right Hand of God.

“The Loved One Becomes Your Inner Energy”

An email correspondent sent me this French quote: “L’être aimé devient votre énergie intérieure” meaning “The loved one becomes your inner energy.” I don’t know if the quote originally was about a deceased loved one or any loved one, but it does seem to fit those of us whose mates have died. At least, it seems to fit me.

Jeff was the first person to accept me as I was, who actually seemed to enjoy my stray and strange thoughts, and who often could do me one better. Until I met him, the best I could hope for from my friends was a bewildered look as they listened to whatever I had to say before they changed the subject to something more mundane. I was stunned on the day I met Jeff when he threw the conversational ball back at me. That truly had never happened before. It was intoxicating, having a back and forth and up and down and all around conversation dealing with things I was thinking about.

Being with Jeff allowed me to be myself in a way I had never been before. The world does not treat its unwitting and naïve noncomformists well, and I was both. I had no idea why people thought I was different, and obviously, I had no idea how to be like them, because whenever I tried, I became even more different.

With Jeff, I wasn’t different. I just . . . was.

Now that the pain of his being gone has dissipated, and now that I am used to living on my own without my special friend — the one with whom I could do everything, the one with whom I could do nothing (finding people to do something with is fairly easy, but finding someone to do nothing with is special indeed) I notice that whatever energy we generated between us that allowed me the freedom of self is still with me.

I don’t in anyway think that he himself is actually with me — I have no idea if he still exists anywhere in any form — but I do feel that energy. It could be why I talk to him (or rather to his picture on my bedside table). Even though I still feel the void where he once was, I also feel that somehow he is still part of my life. This energy could simply be generated by memories of him, though despite the fact that I draw comfort from thinking of him in general, specific memories tend to make me sad because so many of those memories are tinted by his ill health. (For example, if I have a sweet memory of us sitting on the living room floor playing a board game, then it is followed by the memory that the time came too soon when he could no longer concentrate to play.)

When I was new to grief, a woman told me something her widowed mother said, that the loved one’s absence comes to mean what their presence once did. This is sort of the same thing as the French saying. In both cases, I draw strength from having known him, from being with him, from steeping in the courage with which he met his end.

Part of the eventual acceptance of my new life and my new/old self came from a belief — possibly a nonsensical belief — that he wouldn’t have left me if I wasn’t going to be okay. It’s what kept me going for years when I was so bewildered by all that grief threw at me. And it’s given me the inner energy to fuel all the changes in me and my life that have happened since he died.

It truly is odd to think that though he has been gone almost twelve years, he is still so important to me and influential to my life. But then, it’s no odder than any other weirdness encompassed in the experience we call grief.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.

Sweating the Small Stuff

I try to live by the saying, “Don’t sweat the small stuff, and it’s all small stuff,” but sometimes it is impossible to do especially since some of the really small stuff seems to be the biggest stuff.

Some of the small things I am currently sweating are mosquitoes, gnats, and other insects. They wouldn’t be a problem if they left me alone, but already, so early in the season, I am dealing with mosquito bites, gnats up my nose, grasshoppers eating my petunias. (Luckily, so far the petunias are all the hoppers seem to like, though they have nibbled on other plants to see if that foliage were to their liking.) There’s not much I can do about the gnats or the grasshoppers, but I have sprayed permethrin on my gardening clothes (khaki pants rather than my usual black because mosquitoes love black) and I use eucalyptus lemon oil on my face and hands, but they still manage to get me despite those precautions. It’s possible they get into the house at night and feast on me then, but I’ve only seen one mosquito in the house so far. (Although I would never hurt a fly, I have no compunction about offing critters that drink my blood.)

Another small thing that I sweated was an eyelash that got caught in my eye. I couldn’t get it out last night, though after a while I couldn’t find it anymore, so I thought perhaps I’d removed it without knowing I’d done so. Today, however, I woke up with a sore eye. I finally found the lash masquerading as an inflamed blood vessel. I eventually managed to work it over to the corner of my eye where I was able to scrape it off. That is one “small stuff” I had to sweat because it’s not good to have something foreign in one’s eyes.

And yet another small thing that looms large is that each of the past few evenings, I’ve had tearful moments of missing Jeff. After eleven years, most people would think that missing him should no longer be an issue, especially since I’m doing okay, but occasionally it is. I’ve been trying to be upbeat, to see the good in my present life, to not look back but not look forward, either. Neither looking back nor forward does me any good. There is nothing I can do about the past because it’s done and there’s nothing I can do about the future because that is out of my control. Besides, aging is a factor in my future, though people often disagree and tell me that it isn’t. The truth is, looking to the future, I can see myself getting older and feebler and trying to do the best for myself with diminishing strength and energy, and that’s not something I want to dwell on now.

So I look to today, but sometimes, as it has the past few evenings, that concentration on today seems . . . phony. As if I’m trying to be someone I’m not.

Still, there’s nothing I can do about Jeff being gone, and all I can do about missing him is let myself feel bad for a few minutes then dissipate the sadness with some sort of activity. Last night I dissipated those sad energies with dusting the furniture and dry mopping the floors.

Nor can I do anything about the other small stuff I’m sweating, including literally sweating — it was already eighty degrees when I went out to water the garden this morning. (It’s now 95 degrees Faranheit, 35 Celcius.)

Although a more positive or upbeat attitude seems phony to me, as if I’m not being true to myself, I tend to think it’s not really phony but simply another way of dealing with whatever comes my way. And what’s coming my way, for the most part, are a few flowers here and there.

I am glad to have the flowers, and glad that the hoppers around here aren’t as voracious as they were where Jeff and I lived. I blamed myself for my inability to grow a garden back then, thinking it was due to a brown thumb, but it was actually due to the large, brown grasshoppers that ate everything down to the ground, even the three-foot trees we planted. (The only things they left alone were lilacs and Siberian elms.) So I am grateful that I’ve managed to grow anything!

See? Even in a post about my various “small stuff” troubles, I end up with a glad and grateful attitude, though that wasn’t my intention.

Phony or not, that seems to be the way I am now.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator

Remembering

During the past couple of years, I have tried to concentrate more on what I have gained rather than all that I have lost. The tally is still vastly weighted on the loss side, but good things have happened, such as finding a house and creating a home for myself.

The past few days, however, melancholy has gotten hold of me, and I remember the losses. I don’t know whether the plethora of dark clouds and rainy days are responsible or if it’s merely one of “those” times. That this is Memorial Day is entirely coincidental. In fact, I didn’t even remember it was Memorial Day until I went to the library and found it closed. Besides, although Memorial Day has become a day to remember all our dead, its original intent was a day for remembering those who died for their country in any of its various wars.

It’s true that most of my “losses” are loved ones who have died in the past decade or so — my parents, my brothers closest to me in age, and Jeff, of course — but there are other profound losses during those same years that still shape my life, such as the destruction of my arm (though I have become used to the deformity and the remnants of pain), the lack of dance classes, the inability to hike long distances, and losing my home not once but twice (once when Jeff died and once when my dad died). The home loss is especially poignant in an area where families have remained for generations. They might not have lived their whole lives in this very town; they might have come from a nearby town, but to someone who is new to the area, this seems inconsequential. It’s not as if they moved hundreds of miles. They are still within reach of where they grew up, within reach of family and memories.

But this isn’t about them. It’s about me feeling the losses and me feeling lost. Although I didn’t list it with my losses above, I think one of the greatest losses is of myself. Grief changes a person. Being semi-nomadic changes a person. Being isolated changes a person. Owning a home changes a person. I am getting used to who I have become and am still becoming, but it’s not the me I remember being all those years with Jeff. Somehow, our being together allowed me to be a truer version of me than I’d ever been before. I tend to think I am again living a true version of myself, but it’s a different version, one that sometimes strikes me as being . . . not me.

It might be that I spend too much time alone. Although I am comfortable living alone, I must admit I still miss having someone to do nothing with. Sometimes I have someone to something with, but those days of doing nothing in particular with someone are long gone. There are so many little nothings in a day — miniscule victories or insignificant happenings that aren’t worth talking about, but that we want to mention anyway. And there are times when we’re sad or lonely or restless, and just want a moment’s connection — perhaps nothing more than a shared look — before continuing our daily tasks. I can call people or text them, but it’s not the same thing. By the time I make the connection, the moment of nothing has become something.

I don’t mean to sound as if I feel sorry for myself. I don’t really, at least, not much. I just think it’s important to occasionally stop and remember what once was and is no longer.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator

My Formative Years

I did not grow up watching television. My father refused to have a set in the house until we all left home because he did not want us to have that sort of influence in our lives. Some of my siblings went to a friend’s house after school to watch, but I didn’t. Any free time I had — then and now — I spent reading. Consequently, it’s given me a different worldview from most people my age (and younger) because we had completely different influences in our formative years. Well, our early formative years. As far as I can see, I am still in my formative years, though I can’t really say what I’m being formed into. I just know that I am not yet a finished product.

Despite my disclaimer of not watching television, over the years I have managed to get a sampling of the programming I missed. One such program was “All in the Family.” I think about this particular show whenever I put on my socks and shoes. (It seems odd to say socks and shoes rather than shoes and socks, but since socks go on first, it seems as if “socks” should be listed first.) The episode I saw was Archie Bunker berating his son-in-law (at least, that’s who I think the younger man was) about the way he put on his socks and shoes. Like me, the young fellow put a sock and shoe on one foot, and then put a sock and shoe on the other foot. I’m not sure why the character put his shoes on that way, but for me, now that I’m getting older, it’s simply easier to do one foot at a time.

It’s weird to think that putting a foot on a knee, pulling on a sock, then putting the foot down, putting the other foot on a knee, pulling on that sock, then putting that foot down, and then repeating all that motion to put on shoes has become so arduous that it’s simply easier to do one foot at a time. Yet, for me, it is so.

Still, Archie Bunker wouldn’t approve; he claimed it was a stupid way to put on socks and shoes. “What if the second sock has a hole in it?” he asked his son-in-law to the accompaniment of a raucous laugh track. “Then you’d have to take off the first shoe and sock and do it all over again.”

Even though he does have a point, I continue do it the “wrong” way, at least according to Archie. There have been times the second sock did have a hole in it, so I’d limp to my dresser — one shoe on and one shoe off — and drag out another sock. Luckily, I buy socks in batches, so chances are there will be another matching sock in the sock drawer, but if there isn’t, I’ll wear an unmatched sock of the same color because really, if anyone is close enough to my feet to notice that two white or two black socks don’t exactly match, then I have a greater problem than unpaired socks. On occasion, though, I do take off the shoe to go get another sock, but that’s because I don’t like tracking dirt around the house, and has nothing to do with the right sequence of putting on shoes and socks.

Come to think of it, perhaps my father had the right idea about no television. If a single episode of a single show has this sort of influence, I can’t imagine what a steady diet of television programming would have done to me in my formative years.

***

What if God decided S/He didn’t like how the world turned out, and turned it over to a development company from the planet Xerxes for re-creation? Would you survive? Could you survive?

A fun book for not-so-fun times.

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