Sunday, June 22, 2008
If You’re Happy and You Know It… Shut Your Trap!
I read a blog the other day that attempted to frame some concepts of good country living with those contrary examples that pervade children’s literature (although this was supposedly for adults): Mr. Wonderful and Mr. Hopeless. As a child, I read about “David Do-good” and “Donny Dumb-ass”, and “The Goops’ Misadventures”, etc… all to “give life to” the author’s opinions about the right and wrong ways to do things. This particular blog/lecture concerned (I kid you not!) “Mr. Happy” and “Mr. Grumpy” -- or “Mr. Half-assed” which I’m sure was his real point of view. Mr. Happy had all his jobs done so well that he sang through the day, while Mr. Grumpy ran into one snarl after another -- all, (you guessed it) because he had not taken the time to “do it right”.
I gotta speak up for the Grumpies of the world here. Firstly, if The Great Farmer had meant us to sing through the day, he’d have invented karoake machines much earlier. Second, sometimes compost just happens. If you‘ve read any of my other entries, you know I empathize with (or epitomize!) Mr. Grumpy, and his piles of wickedly clever obstacles -- as someone who tries to saw boards on top of half-collapsed cardboard boxes (because proper sawhorses need a) money, b) time to build and c) room to store and use), I understand that what seems to be incompetence is in fact a calculated gamble that the falling House of Cards will pile up right where you need a card pile, at least for a moment. Alright… not so much “calculated” as “gamble”.
I noted that the Happy author never mentions where Mr. Happy had found the time to do all these things “right”… because one of his points was that it does take extra time “at first” but it “pays off later”. Just like those poor folks who can’t invest in a top-of-the-line appliance that “saves money over the long run”, maybe poor Mr. Grumpy just didn’t have the time to spend perfecting every task! Maybe he didn’t have slave labor in the form of a wife and four terrorized - er, “well-behaved” - kids to assist exactly when he needed them. And Happies probably also start with at least a Journeyman’s level of construction competence, rather than a stack of Handyman magazines and some half-rusting tools from Goodwill.
I wish the Happies -- or, lets face it, the Smugs -- of the world would find a better use for all that free time they save by “doing it right” . Stop wasting it chortling about the rest of us!
The Happies never have a day that starts with putting bread in the machine to bake, then having the pest man come and inform you he has to fog and you have to leave - now - and no, the bread probably shouldn’t be baking while he’s fogging…. [Note: Hauled the batter out to the overheated greenhouse, hoping that a couple hours there would be similar to the “rising” part of the cycle - rather than part of the “compost” cycle. It worked, sort of… as in, I ate it and didn’t die. Tasted like sourdough.] The Happies don’t have psychotic bluejays that persistently peck at their sideview mirrors and then their studio windows, causing the tension rod holding up all the handmade necklaces to slip, cascading the whole lot to the ground and taking half the birdhouses-in-progress with them! (But Happies never start anything they don’t finish… I forgot). Happies never get everything out to mow the lawn only to find their grass-cutting clothes (so designated because the non-shielded weedwacker creates permanently grass-encrusted jeans) have just come out of the washer and are on the line to dry for two days in the damp summer chill.
But you know, I’m guessing that Happy is not a family trait. In fact, I can just hear Mrs. Happy now: “David - have you stopped to fix that gate? I need you to fix my clothesline!”
“You’ll have to do that yourself, dear. I need to Do this Right.”
“How long will it take? It was your turn today to pick up Hulda at ballet.” (okay, 4-H)
“It takes as long as it takes, dear. Doing it Right is worth the time.” (He’s one of those who can Talk in Capitals.)
“Easy for you to say - I‘ve got the wash, then lunch… and now kid-chauffeur?!”
“But think of all the time you saved, dear, because I got your butter churn to seal perfectly and your spinning wheel to turn without friction.”
“I’ve already spent that time - drinking your homemade vodka. To drown you out.”