Sunday, June 01, 2008

A Vacation's Nothing Without Work

Vacation. A word so sweet your triglycerides rose to the level of Jabba the Hutt’s just by reading it. So, please, go to the emergency room – now.

Yeah, vacation is sweet, and I had five days of it. Five no-shavin’, no-workin’, no-thinkin’ days of lethargy and naps. I sat on the couch that Monday morning, a cup of coffee in my hand, when my vacation turned into one of those vacations you see in movies where everyone’s ankles are chained together and they’re busting rocks in front of a guy holding a shotgun.

“Bye, honey,” my wife said as she did a strafing run through the living room on her way to work, pulling the front door shut behind her so quickly I barely heard the words that would doom my vacation much like ‘I’ll have to raise taxes’ doomed Walter Mondale’s 1984 presidential campaign … by the way, he lost. “Have a great day. There’s a list on the kitchen table. I love you.”

Slam. Tap, tap, tap. Click. Vroom. Slam. Zip. … And she was gone.

Sure, I’ll have a great day. A great day of reruns, frozen pizza and … a list? A list? I’m on vacation and I have a list?

There are very few lists that can bring fear into the soul of someone who was planning to have a couple of beers during “Gilligan’s Island” that afternoon. The Shopping List (not “a” shopping list, The Shopping List. The one where your wife asks you to buy Tampons), Sen. Joseph McCarthy’s list of communist sympathizers, and the Mob’s hit list are nothing compared to a list your wife makes and drops on your head the first day of vacation.

I looked at the table. A piece of paper was propped against the saltshaker. As I approached the list, I could tell the message wasn’t going to be good – she’d used red ink.

Jason’s To-Do List By FRIDAY.

Great, I love deadlines, especially those written with letters shaped like little daggers.

1. Power wash the house.

2. Patch the sidewalk.

3. Wash the carpets.

4. Move the heaviest thing we own to the basement.

5. Move the second heaviest thing we own from the basement.

6. Mow the lawn.

8. Write treatise on the eternal struggle between good and evil through the eyes of Hannah Montana.

9. Pave the driveway.

10. Pull the Earth’s orbit closer to the Sun. We’re having the Smiths over for a barbecue this weekend and I’d like the weather to be nice.

Wow, that’ll take my whole vacation.

Guys, we really need to take back our vacations and our own manliness. Our days of earned sloth should not be wasted repairing the house and performing preventative automotive maintenance. We’re men, and we’ll get to it right after the ballgame.

There. I feel better. I’m going to make my own list, starting with No. 1: Be a man. I’ll work on that next week, after I figure out how to pull the Earth out of orbit.

Copyright 2008 by Jason Offutt

Jason’s book of ghost stories, “Haunted Missouri: A Ghostly Guide to the Show-Me State’s Most Spirited Spots,” is available at, or Visit Jason’s Web site,, for his other books.

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