Monday, October 14, 2013

Simple Pleasures

I've never been so happy that I've
been compelled to tushy-touch, however.
Are you happy all the time? If you are, please allow me to punch you in the face.

But I digress. I used to be a lot angrier most of the time, but I've actually mellowed out as I've aged, even though I think I have even more stress than ever in my life, and despite being even closer to death than when I was an angrier younger man.

Or maybe I just gave up. But I've noticed — as I grow older and the stresses, memories, and regrets pile up like that mound of junk mail that I'll eventually spend an entire afternoon shredding because I fear gangs of identity thieves rummaging through my garbage and signing up for numerous Capital One cards in my name — that there are the occasional, fleeting, and otherwise insignificant moments that stir in me feelings of pride and perhaps even joy.

I'm not talking about the times when my kids do something awesome or when one of my Facebook friends has a baby. (By that I mean one of my Facebook friends whose baby announcement doesn't set me off, muttering, How the hell can they afford a seventh kid?)

I'm talking about those minor incidents that are all too easy to shrug off without realizing that hey, sometimes things do go your way.

Among those fun-size moments of joy include:

1. Successfully (or semi-successfully, or at least adequately) edging my lawn.

Lookit that edge job. Now I just have to get rid of
those dead leaves sometime before winter.
Describing my house's "curb appeal" is usually akin to describing Bea Arthur's "sex appeal." I don't enjoy yard work, so I perform the minimal amount of lawn maintenance, which means keeping the grass short enough so it won't engulf the kids as they wade through it after they depart the school bus. But every few weeks, I'll spend a little extra time and trim the edges.

And Bea Arthur wasn't a bad-lookin'
broad, back in the day. A day in 1947.
When I complete the task, which includes straining my shoulder during the 17 or so pulls required to start up the gas-powered trimmer and replacing the plastic trimmer string like a hundred times because I edge too close to the pavement, I see a near walkway that's now two inches wider on each side, and for the next few days whenever I go outside with Mrs. The Anthony Show, I'll remark, "Wow, lookit that edge job." And Mrs. The Anthony Show will grunt the way she did when my then-2-year-old-son held up a Cheerio and yelled, "Mommy! Cherrio!" for the 37th time in a row and flee inside as quickly as possible.

And then I'll say to myself, "Yeah, lookit that edge."

2. Using a "superglue" to adhere something to something else, resulting in both pieces get along in adhesive harmony.

As if I didn't have enough glue-related anecdotes to share, here's another. Several commercials from my youth will always stick with me (pardon the pun), including the Krazy Glue ad with the guy sticking his construction helmet to a girder and then hanging there as if suspended from the Empire State Building. I'd always wondered, "Why would you do something like that? Who wants to hang by his head from a girder? What's the point, if you don't glue your head and have to cling to the helmet anyway?"

Years later, when I was old enough to graduate to glues stronger than Elmer's, I had mixed success with superglue. I either applied too much, or I used it on materials that weren't superglue-friendly. But every now and then the glue does exactly what it's supposed to, like when I reattached a small piece of my eyeglass frames that I'd accidentally cracked:

You can barely see the crack.
More importantly, I've (thus far) resisted the temptation to stress-test the job, which would likely have refractured the frames.

3. Having my car serviced without having to take on any additional repairs.

Because of the precarious nature of our finances, one of my mortal fears is the unexpected expense, lurking in nearly every aspect of my life, that will disrupt our income to the point where we'll end up broke, homeless, and in a position where I'll have to sell my children to a chimney-sweep proprietor.

As I might have mentioned once before, whenever I bring my car in for a simple oil change, I sit in the service waiting room nervously as if anticipating the results of a test for testicular cancer and Chlamydia while waiting for news about whether my entire family survived a horrific plane disaster that is indirectly but entirely my fault, like on Breaking Bad.

Didn't see that one coming.
The worst part about receiving news about, say, having to have all four tires replaced in order to pass inspection, is relaying such news to Mrs. The Anthony Show to ensure that we've got enough money in the bank account that I'm using to cover the job. This is because — even though she never blames me for the car needing four new tires — as the messenger hitting her with the news that we need four new tires and the fact that four new tires somehow costs like 800 dollars (didn't it once cost only like 200, or am I crazy and/or old?), I'm the one absorbing a reaction that I just moments earlier had myself, and I start to feel irrationally guilty:
Why did I have to let the tires wear out? Couldn't I have driven more often on grass, which would have been easier on the tires? Why couldn't I have driven on just the two left tires on the way to work, and then on just two right tires on the way home, to conserve rubber?
So, when I'm able to walk out — that is, drive out — of the shop without paying much more than I expected to shell out, I feel as if I dodged a bullet. Or a speeding train that would smash into my car and require major repairs at 100 bucks an hour for labor.

4. Uh...something else?
One day I'll write a sequel to this post. That is, if I can think of other things that make me happy. There have to be other things, right? RIGHT?

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