I can think of few inventions that have brought more benefit and peace of mind to mankind than the automatic dishwasher. My own model of this beneficent device is whirring and gloshing away as we speak. Without it I would be awash in dirty dishes, plates with odd blue-green growths, cups with the accumulated rings of a thousand servings of coffee, glasses with more rings than a sequoia tree to tell the archivist exactly how many servings of milky substances I have consumed since they were purchased. Because I hate doing dishes and I pretty much don’t do anything I don’t want to do anymore.
It is a lovely, albeit chilly, morning and I am contemplating my plans for the future. First I am going to install a very expensive new front door – not counting installation it has cost me just under $4000: a lovely beveled glass affair with a sidelight, rated highly enough in insulative qualities to garner a 30% tax write-off this year. Then I am applying for a reverse mortgage on my home (which will be raised in value, one hopes, by more than the $4K investment, since there is no one to leave it to anyway. All my relatives fall into two categories; either they have homes that suit them very well or they could not afford to pay of the rest of the mortgage and hold onto it. And then – do you hear it coming? – the sweet, sweet relief of retirement.
This business of living in two places with a 2-3 hour drive between is getting very old. For one thing, it reduces my time to do things around the house to one day a week. This is the same day in which I have to do any buying for the week, write my blog, conduct my social life and so forth. Oh – and rest, doing nothing. Guess which of these enterprises wins most often? I have observed that when I have that rare two-day weekend on Reedville, i.e., a three-day weekend overall, I get things done. Unfortunately, about half those three-day affairs contains a holiday on which I traditionally attend a dinner at a relative’s home – Christmas at Caitlin and Brad’s, Memorial Day at Joan’s and so on. So the extra day is lost so far as accomplishing tasks is concerned.
I have done the math, admittedly with a view to making it come out the way I want it to, and I think without my mortgage, even considering the taxes here and insurance and so forth, I can swing it. Anyway, I have lived my life acting on impulse and it has stood me in good stead. The man that I know who plans most carefully for his future is my friend Yan, and those of you who read my last entry know how that turned out. The life I am living is simply not worth the added money it brings in. I do a lot of spending which I recognize afterward is simply to atone for the deep malaise into which continuing to work has plunged me. There has been no real social life, nothing meaningful on the horizon for all the 14 years since my return from Saudi. I just cannot get up any enthusiasm for travel that must be rushed through in two weeks or less. Vacations leave me with less devotion to my job, not more.
One always hears of these freakish men who retire and find themselves at loose ends. I do not personally know any such men. Without exception, those many friends I have who have achieved retirement have found their lives more full of zest, energy and things to do. I have not been able to converse with any who have died still working, but my guess is that the number one answer to, “What do you think of that?” would be “chagrin”. And that presupposes that cussing in the afterlife is frowned upon. Or pointless.
Well, how boring was that? Let’s see – did you see the news article about the couple that wandered out of a pub and began banging on the Windsor Castle lawn in broad daylight, surrounded by tourists? That was fun reading. Although in residence at the time, the Queen was not involved so far as I can tell. Pity.
I have had occasion in the past to acknowledge how extremely shallow I am, and as further evidence of this, I now admit I am an avid watcher of American Idol. I have had my favorites through the seasons – there always seemed to be at least one contestant to whose performance I looked forward each week – not necessarily because they were the most talented, but because they usually delivered something a little unexpected or unusual. The five top finalists this year are easily the most talented of any season; any one of them would have been extremely strong contenders – and likely winners – in former seasons. But this year there is a contestant so supremely gifted both with voice and showmanship, that I can’t wait each week for Tuesday and my two-minute Adam Lambert fix. This guy has everything I would expect the word ‘Idol’ to imply. I find him thrilling – and when I listen to his singing without watching him (I have downloaded four of his performances, compared with two for all other singers in all other seasons put together) – I am as astounded by his gifts as when I watch him. He may well not win – he was one of the two lowest vote-getters this week - but I have never seen anyone before who I was so sure will be a major star.
Each year there is a division of sorts between voters on the show – many years it is pop v country, but the country contestant left early this year. The division this year is between crooners – boy-band types – and rock performers. There is a bit of church versus Satan in the ranks, too, and of course Satan’s followers have dates on weeknights and a life that is not on hold until Eternity rolls around, so some of them are too busy to vote. I don’t think there is a Mormon this year in the finals or a candidate who plays up his origins in a small state, or an ethnic favorite who is getting votes for that reason (I do not refer to black v white, which doesn’t seem to happen on this show, but more like when there is a Filipino or some smaller minority candidate), so the block-voting such contestants sometimes receive irrespective of their performances is not occurring. The preference for a crooner or a rocker, or an R and B or country singer is an entirely legitimate preference and seems to play heavily in the voting. In addition, physical attractiveness weighs heavily, as it does in all other aspects of life – although I am not sure that is not more the case among the judges than among the voters. Simon Cowell is incapable of seeing beyond looks, particularly in females (those of you who know to whom I refer when I say ‘bikini girl’ will recall how completely incapable of impartiality toward beautiful women he is), and Paula Abdul is also strongly biased by appearance, particularly (and unsurprisingly) in the men.
Mainly, I want Adam to last at least until the final two, just so my Tuesdays will be exciting for a while longer. I doubt that his success or failure as a performer from this point on will be much affected by how he fares on Idol. So I will still be able to buy his music and, believe me, I will.
And now, out into the sunshine – I hope you will be doing the same.