It’s that time of year in New England. The fall foliage that retirees from Kansas travel here by the busload to see is blazing, a chill is in the air, mucus is in your throat–in short, it’s time to winterize your home.
But you, like Captain America in Easy Rider, blew it. Back there, way back in college. You had to major in the liberal arts, and now find yourself ill-suited–actually, completely unsuited–for the sort of simple home improvements that the guy who plows your driveway can manage with nothing more than a high school equivalency degree.
Sure he’s competent, but can he conjugate irregular French verbs?
As a liberal arts major, you have problems focusing on a single task because you possess the gift of irrelevance; the ability to wool-gather, to let your idle curiosity get in the way of storm windows, gutters and downspouts. This dishwasher-safe “Guide to Winterizing Your Home Without Dying of Boredom” will help keep you on the straight and narrow path and make your home a cozy refuge for mulled-cider poetry readings come February.
Set the mood with pink-insulated music: Everybody knows pink insulation is the best, so what better way to start your “winterizing day” than by listening to The Coasters–who sometimes wore pink tuxedos–sing “Young Blood,” a masterpiece of folk poetry that never grows old. “I saw her standin’ on the corner (wope-du-wope-shoop)” they sing, setting the tone for a productive day dragging garden hoses into the garage. Be sure and keep the volume high enough to drown out your wife’s instructions.
Get the right tool for the job. Many towns have adopted ordinances that prevent the use of obnoxious leaf blowers except during specified hours. How exactly are you supposed to prepare your lawn for spring without the barbaric yawp of those noisy boys bothering one and all in the fall? Simple–see Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman, whence “barbaric yawp” came. It’s right there in verse 52, page 114 of Song of Myself in the so-called “Death Bed” edition. Tell your wife to keep it down out in the yard, fer Christ sake–you’re trying to read some poetry!
“I’ll be out in a minute, sweetie. I’ve only got 550 pages of ‘Leaves of Grass’ to go.”
Organize your Edward Hopper note cards. America’s ever-expanding population of irreligious families has made Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa card-sending a logistical nightmare! You only have a few weeks to get your house of cards in order. Agnosticism and atheism breed nihilism, so be sure to stock up on non-denominational cards featuring “Nighthawks,” the noir classic by Edward Hopper, the greatest registered Republican painter in American art history.
Nighthawks by Edward Hopper: Bet you didn’t know he was a Republican.
Gutter-cleaning port de bras: If anything is worth doing, it is worth doing–beautifully. And any great choreographer will tell you–you have to take risks!
Keep these principles in mind as you climb the ladder to clean the autumn leaves out of your gutters and gracefully s-t-r-e-t-c-h your arm out.
“Please just get down and move the ladder–you’re going to kill yourself,” your wife says, her forehead plowed up like a field lying fallow with concern.
“You know what Robert Browning said, don’t you?”
“No, and I don’t care.”
“‘A man’s reach should exceed his grasp or what’s a heaven’ . . .ohmygod–I almost fell!”
At this point, graciously defer to your wife’s superior manly skills and turn the ladder over to her. Now go inside, where the couch awaits you, paraphrasing Robert Maynard Hutchins as you go: “Every time I get the urge to work around the house, I lie down until it goes away.”
Available in Kindle format on amazon.com as part of the collection “Take My Advice–I Wasn’t Using it Anyway.”