Wednesday, July 6, 2011
SITTING AROUND LIKE A DUMB JERK
Most people I know stay pretty busy. There are lots of hobbies and activities and distractions to keep everyone from staring into the void. But sometimes it feels appropriate to just stop what you're doing, take some time, and just sit around like a dumb jerk.
Just stare off into the middle distance and sigh heavily.
I get really antsy if I don't get out and do stuff pretty regularly, or at least be semi-productive around the house. If I have time to waste, I will hop on my bike, or run errands, or write dumb blog entries. Something got hard-wired into my brain as a child that gives me panic attacks if I don't keep in some sort of constant motion; it's like I can hear my mom yelling at me to go outside when all I want to do is vegetate in front of the TV and watch syndicated re-runs of THE JEFFERSONS. Well, now I don't have a TV, and if I'm inside for more than twenty minutes without a reason I start to hyperventilate. It's a pavlovian reaction to sunshine that forces me to wander around aimlessly on my bike or risk severe depression. You win, Mom.
And so it is that just sitting around like a dumb jerk is a treat that I rarely get to savor, like eating a whole pint of ice cream. Or bingeing on fried pub food. Or sleeping through an entire night without waking up in a sweaty panic. As the cold embrace of the endless black grave approaches, I have found, more and more, that I can just plop down into an armchair and zone out, like that dude in THE SERPENT AND THE RAINBOW who gets dosed with some weird voodoo drug and gets buried alive. (That's what happened in that movie as I gleaned it from the video cassette box.)
Much like going to a dominatrix while coked up, this kind of waking coma can be terrifying and euphoric in equal doses. There is a "lost time" effect, where the day slips out from under you and suddenly five hours have vanished while you scratched your balls and wondered how much a used 1985 BMW might cost, and if you could repair it yourself if something broke down on a cross-country trip to the Charles Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa, California. You wonder if it would be cost-effective to buy the used car, then abandon it on the west coast and fly back. Do you have to buy insurance if you're abandoning a car in Santa Rosa? Would the car have built in ashtrays? When did they stop building ashtrays into cars anyway? I remember people smoking in cars, but they always ashed out the window. Is that tacky? Smoking in general is kind of trashy these days, but dealing with ash and butts is particularly gross. My grandfather used to ash in the cuff of his pants. That was a pretty cool move, in a way, although I don't know that anyone under the age of 70 could pull it off. It seems really filthy. He had some sort of lung disease at the end, and required an oxygen tank, so maybe the cuffs of his trousers were not a high priority, all things considered. He sat around and stared off into space quite a bit. I don't remember him doing much else, actually, which might be why my Mom was so emphatic about me being active. It was either get outside and climb a tree or slowly descend into lung disease, alcoholism, and being kind of boring. Fair enough.
Of course she was correct, and like anything that is good in small doses, too much sitting around and doing nothing can turn you into a sack of crap. In a hypothetical situation that in no way represents actual people or events, let's say a live-in girlfriend of several years only wants to spend her free time vegetating like a sad stoner. It's a gorgeous day outside, and you want to hit the pool and maybe do ten miles on the bike, and watch a movie in the park. Hypothetical girlfriend doesn't want to leave the house, then goes on to spend the next eight hours in her pajamas illegally downloading music and talking on the phone with her mom. Days pass and she barely gets out of bed. No sunlight will touch her skin, like a vampire hiding in a tomb. Except this vampire sucks your will to live rather than your blood. SCARY STUFF.
As my friends get older, they get attached, married, with child, and gradually less and less likely to drop what they're doing at any moment and go to a random bar that allegedly has good nachos. With less people available for an impromptu hang-out on a Tuesday night, there is more time for other things. Reading lengthy fantasy novels, playing first-person shooter WWII video games, or updating blogs that nobody reads. After a while, though, all these things get boring, or repetitive, or deeply depressing. The only thing left to do is slump down into a chair, unfocus your eyeballs, and space out like a dumb jerk.