Often I am at home during the noon hour for either a quick lunch and to let my dog out, or in the summer to be a short-order cook for a couple of young men who can take on extensive projects of their choosing, but seemingly can’t make a roast beef sandwich. During that time at home, if it’s 12:30 I am absolutely turning on the classic reruns of the Andy Griffith Show. If you’re a fan of the show — and frankly, if you are of my generation, who isn’t? — you, also like me, probably have a strong preference for the episodes filmed in black and white. I think the reason that the show resonates so well with so many is it harkens back to what I would construe and remember as a much simpler time. Families sat down and ate dinner together, watched their favorite television shows together, or gathered on the porch just to talk. Neighbors were more neighborly, and people, at least in the town of Mayberry — or Newburgh, where I grew up — knew one another much better. Things weren’t nearly so fast-paced.
Something that I find enormously frustrating is never having much of what I would call “down time.” When is the last time you came home from work, sat down, watched an entire episode of the local or national news, ate dinner together with your family, and no one had to be anywhere? This also seems to be an ever-increasing source of frustration and contention for my friends and peers, based on my conversations with them. The reason I am writing about this in my current publisher’s letter is partially to get the editorial staff off of my rear end to get this letter complete, but also to ask the question, “Do we do this to ourselves?”
Three months ago, one of my oldest friends told me that one of my absolute favorite bands, Steely Dan, was going to be playing at The Palace in Louisville in late July. He planned to get tickets and figured that we would like to go as well. He was right. Fast-forward to two months later: My young son, Jackson, qualified in several events to swim in the Indiana State Age Group Championships. Of course, the final day of the swim championships was also the first day for Jackson to report to Camp Ondessonk in Ozark, Ill., for his first camp experience, which elicited several phone calls regarding late camp check-in.
So let me share with you a quick synopsis of those few days. Swim banquet Thursday night (with a good friend pleading laryngitis and throwing me under the bus to deliver the many thank-yous at the podium — you know who you are), followed by immediate departure for Indianapolis, which as you know is an hour ahead. We didn’t have to be at the Indiana University Natatorium until darn near 6:30 the next morning for day one of swim, and the day concluded with a drive down to Louisville to enjoy the Steely Dan show (hey, those tickets were long paid for, and the show … phenomenal), followed by two more days of aforementioned swimming. Upon leaving Indianapolis Sunday, we drove four and one-half hours to camp, making sure small fry was firmly ensconced, which was a bit “difficult” for Mom, Dad, and son, and then the two-hour return trip. All of this was surrounded by our Evansville Business deadline of the largest page count issue to date. Thanks to another friend who picked up my dog being boarded (as we were too late to pick him up) and was promptly delayed because my puppy had just rolled in poop and needed another bath.
So, at the end of the day, I’m not sure I can answer the question that my wife often poses to me, when I complain about never having a free minute, as to whether I do it to myself or if circumstances in life often dictate this type of lifestyle. After all, you want to support your kids’ endeavors, you need to work hard in your professional life, you’re supposed to take care of yourself and have some fun along the way, so what do you give up, if anything? If someone will drop me a note this weekend while you’re at your travel soccer tournament and let me know, I would be interested in hearing your thoughts.
Meanwhile, I’m racking my brain trying to remember the episode where Aunt Bee is furiously packing Opie up for a weekend of travel sports.
As always, I look forward to hearing from you.
Todd A. Tucker