Wednesday, October 8, 2014

The Most Private Thing I Am Willing to Admit About Myself Is. . .

The Most Private Thing I Am Willing to Admit About Myself Is. . .

If you have recently attempted to complete the sentence above, then you and I both know you’re on the online dating service OK Cupid.  These things happen. 

I do have some excellent OK Cupid stories to tell, but right now I want to focus on what I would have liked to say in response to this particular prompt.  What I actually said was stuff like, “I’m blind in one eye and I keep my negative emotions hidden, which has caused me a lot of problems.  The hidden emotions part, more so than the eye.”

Blah blah blah.  But.

That was the “most private” thing I was willing to admit to the men of OK Cupid, but for you, my blog followers, like Morgan Freeman in The Shawshank Redemption, I am willing to go just a little bit farther.

Do you want to know what I wanted to tell the men of Colorado, but didn’t?

The Most Private Thing I am Willing to Admit About Myself is I love, love, love to watch other people work. Preferably while I am reclining. Preferably in a hammock, not working myself.

Listen, I know how it sounds. This isn't something I’m proud of.  

Indeed, in our Puritan Bootstraps Rags-to-Riches, Anyone-Can-Make-It-If –She-Just-Works-Hard-Enough culture, such an admission  comes close to social blasphemy ("Voyeurism + Laziness=Entitlement!!! Stone Her!!!)

Before you bend to pick up that first rock, let me try to explain myself.  

Right now, I don’t even own a hammock.  What I do possess is a really great front porch.  It doesn’t look that weird when I am sitting on my front porch in a plastic chair, watching the guys across the street unload a truck full of wine for the liquor store.  But it might look weirder if I were lying in a hammock on the front lawn, watching them do it.

No, in order to make Lying-in-a-Hammock-Watching-Labor really feasible, I would need to get a hacienda-villa type of house, and I would need to get my own workers, who would be paid enough that they would not give a crap whether I watched them or not. 

Another thing you’ve got to know about this:  I do NOT like watching people work who are miserable, unhappy, or uncomfortable in any way.  This is not a Pharaoh-Watching-Jews-Build-Pyramids kind of thing.

No, the kind of work I like to watch involves people happily occupied at some productive task, where they are basically enjoying themselves, preferably where there is a “figuring-out” element to what they are doing—the sort of thing that requires brief hearty conferences about tactics and strategies. 

(In an earlier post, I mentioned how I like to go to the beach and watch other people figure out how to parasail or scuba-dive.  The most work I like to put in at the beach is figuring out how many minutes before I need to flip to keep my tan even.  But I like watching my more enthusiastic beach brethren because their activity serves as a nice counterpoint to my slothdom.)

The thing is, when you’re a middle-class, middle-aged white girl without a ton of resources, it’s actually hard to get a good “watching-people-work” groove going sometimes.  So I take it where I can.  I snatch little pieces here and there.

For example, as I alluded to earlier, I live across the street from a restaurant and a liquor store/pharmacy.  (The liquor store-pharmacy is a delightful phenomenon that would have greatly pleased my younger self.  But I digress).

Fortunately, a lot of the packing and unpacking of supplies happens in the front parking lot of these two establishments, where I can see it from my front porch.

Equally unfortunately, a lot of it also happens in the alley out back of the store, but I haven’t yet found the courage to drag a really comfy lawn chair out there and watch them deliver and unload the shit out of stuff.  I feel that the employees might not understand.

Right now, I do have a fairly good chair for my front porch, but that just doesn’t compare to a hammock.  However, my roommate is all fired up to get a porch swing, which also has some sweet potential.  If I learned how to make homemade lemonade, I could see this really working out well for me.

Oh, but you know what would be even better?  If my roommate Charlene would make the lemonade FOR me.  I could watch her make it.

The only thing is, the backyard is really the most comfortable spot.  Very green.  Large, full of flowers (Charlene’s work), an old wooden fence around all sides. 

The other day I made an incredible discovery that the phenomenon of me and other people working is also auditory.  While I cannot see my neighbor working in her yard (she also has a wooden fence), I can hear the sound of her shoveling, raking, clipping things, digging with her trowel (is that what those things are called?)

Even more surprising, today I noticed that the pleasure is not limited to my watching humans at work.  You know who is totally fun to watch work?  Bees! Bees are indeed, as rumored, busy, yet they also seem to enjoy High Job Satisfaction.

And now, the obvious question.  Where the hell does all this come from?

My father was a sociology professor who studied world peace.  My mother was a nurse who specialized first in pediatrics, then geriatrics.  They believed in honesty, hard work, and fair play.

I grew up in suburbia in one of the states Most Dedicated to the Puritan Ethic (Massachusetts) and another Most Dedicated to Shoulder-To-the-Plow (Ohio), and am now living in the American West, where there is certainly No Crying In Baseball.  Or during the middle of a stampede, or whatever.

(Actually, I have cried in the middle of The Stampede, which is a country-western bar here in Denver, but only cause I grew up on Prince and Depeche Mode).

Since I can’t find much to explain this phenomenon in my current life, I have to look back to an earlier iteration.  According to three separate Psychics (I have a lot of Woo in my life), I have spent at least one important lifetime as an Egyptian nobleman, where I probably did watch people unwillingly build pyramids. 

According to another past-life expert, I have spent many lives as a spoiled person-of-privilege of some kind, creating a deep rivet of pleasant association with my lounging on various comfortable surfaces with people bustling around me.

I have no idea whether any of that is true, but it's a theory that other people came up with.  I watched them do it, with no personal effort whatsoever to tap into my own past-life experiences.

Novelist Kate Atkinson says:

“Why do cats sleep so much?  Perhaps they’ve been trusted with some major cosmic task, an essential law of physics—such as:  if there are less than five million cats sleeping at any one time the world will stop spinning.  So that when you look at them and think, what a lazy, good-for-nothing animal, they are, in fact, working very very hard.”

I can just see me explaining to my hardworking, no-nonsense friends and clients that I, like the cats, need to lie on hammocks and chaise lounges and watch others work in order to help keep the world spinning.  That should go over real well.