1. Date night. Ever been on a date where you spend the entire time waiting for a polite interval to pass so you can extract yourself from what was clearly one of the more serious mistakes you’ve made in months without seeming like a total ass? Because I have. It’s the kind of experience that makes me a) appreciate the quiet companionship of a good dog; b) regret missing the first half of Maryland Farm and Harvest on public television; and c) wish I hadn’t worried about seeming like an ass and saved the cost of the drinks for better purpose – like setting the cash aflame or throwing it directly into the Elk River. Every single time I leave the house I’m just that little bit more sure that I should do it as little as humanly possible.
2. Leaving the country. For my entire adult life I’ve heard people bitch and complain and definitively assure the world around them that “if that happens I’ll leave the country.” If your love of country is made of such delicate stuff, then I urge you to go now, pack a bag, and enjoy your trip. I’m comfortable telling you that it is entirely possible to love your country without loving its leaders – or even most of the people in it. At any given time half the country is going to viscerally loath the person we elect in November. That’s the nature of the politics we’ve made for ourselves. People who would never dare speak a civil word of President Bush are the same ones who immediate condemn even the slightest criticism of President Obama. Likewise, those who long ago supported President Bush turn almost the exact tired arguments against President Obama. There’s plenty enough reasons to dislike all of these people without falling back into a trap where the world can only exist in black and white – or where the only acceptable outcomes are total victory or taking your ball and going (to a new) home. We should be smarter than that. America is my country – it’s yours too – even when she’s being a bit bi-polar, but if it’s all too much for you to bear, I urge you to go ahead and run off to join the foreign legion at the first available opportunity. Perhaps your exit can help free up some space for those with a thicker skin.
3. Raise. After a pay freeze that lasted for about a quarter of my career, it’s safe to say I was underwhelmed with the prospect of the whopping 1% raise we received this year. The actual cash value, after taxes, fees, and insurance premiums, works out to a staggering $55.30 a month or something like $.32 an hour. I get to keep a whole 47.3% of this new found windfall. I’ll try not to spend it all in one place, but if I go anywhere other than the Dollar Tree that goal could prove seriously difficult to achieve.