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Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Thank You for Your Stuff

What could be nicer than lying on a hammock, under a canopy of trees on that one rare day when they don’t throw, sap, nuts, cones, or bird crap at you? It’s a lovely peaceful moment that lasts about 15 minutes every summer. In exchange - if you own the land and cabin where that hammock is located - you’re almost certain to spend a hundred hours or more, cleaning gutters, cutting fallen trees, dealing with slow, uncooperative county bureaucrats, negotiating, waiting for, and complaining about plumbers, electricians, and other repair guys. In the weeks before and after your moocher friends visit you’ll be winterizing, unwinterizing, and/or rodent chasing in exchange for that perfect 15 minutes of arboreal bliss – that is if you guests don’t stop you by asking, “When’s lunch?.”
You want to really relax on a hammock in the woods? Choose a friend that owns such a cabin. Sure you might have to listen to your buddy brag about his house a bit, but that’s a small price to pay. Just be happy that he’s too proud of his hide-away to ask you to come up and clean after it floods each spring.
I’m grateful that people like to own things. I don’t understand it, but I don’t have to. My job is to collect friends that have all the things I want to play with. I get all the benefits and I don’t have to spend the time and money to purchase and maintain these leisure-eating monsters.
I mean, who, other than a professional fisherman, would ever want to own a boat? I can see having an inflatable dingy that fits in the closet, or maybe even a six foot canoe, but what kind of masochist buys an ocean-ready cabin cruiser?
The answer? My kind of masochist! He can have all the pride of ownership he wants. I’ll just tag along on a sunny day in the bay and disappear when it’s time to scrape barnacles off the side or wash the smell of rotted sea bass off the deck furniture.
I have loads of fun playing catch with someone else’s black lab in the park. I’ll never spend a moment cleaning dog puke or waiting in a well-slimed chair at the vet’s office.
Wow! You have a pool table? Sure, I’ll play, but I’ll be out of town if you ever move.
Thanks for all those tomatoes from your garden! Too bad you can’t sit up straight at the lunch table because your back is still bothering you.
It’s not just pets and stuff. A couple of days a month I wander into meetings at the really cool hobby society. I play with all the gadgets and toys that people build or collect. The president of the society approaches.
“Say Headley, you’re here again!”
“Yup. I sure like other people’s stuff.”
“Why don’t you join our society?”
“But I don’t do hobbies or collect things.”
“You could still be a member. As a member you could serve on a board and sit through boring meetings. You can arrange events and spend your own money on refreshments. You can pay annual dues, and then feel pressure about button-holing all your friends to join. Membership will suck all the joy out of playing with other people’s stuff, and make these meetings a source of anxiety, drudgery and poverty!
“What do you say?”
“Um… tempting, but I’m good just showing up and playing with other people’s stuff.”
That’s right; I don’t join hobby clubs, churches, political parties, civic organizations, or alumni associations. I don’t see why anyone joins, but I don’t let it bother me.
So the next time you’re in a meeting, feeling anxious that somebody is going to ask you for money, or to carry the club’s worries on your shoulders. Next time you’re overhauling your snowmobile, or Jet Ski. Next time you’re in a tussle with your neighbor because your golden retriever, while playing fetch with me, crushed her prized zucchini that were almost big enough for her to harvest, bag, and give out to freeloaders like… who?
That’s right, think of me, relaxing on that hammock in the woods, and being grateful that the world is full of people like you dedicated to making my life better.

Now in an almost related note, a musical pause from the great movie: The Blues Brothers.