Friday, March 28, 2008

Retirement Dreams

I don’t know how you retired people manage. My husband has been out of work for a couple of days, due to the weather, and I’ve already asked him to find his own apartment.

How did it come to this? I remember, as a young bride, resenting the fact that he had to go to work every day and we couldn’t be together 24/7. Funny what 37 ½ years of marriage does to a couple.

The first day home, after reading everything in the morning paper from the front page dateline to the last Frys ad, he hovered over my shoulder as I worked on my column and asked the classic question, “Whatcha doin'?” Odd, since he’s never been particularly interested in my writing. That’s how bored he was. I suggested he finish one of the projects he’d abandoned over the past two decades, such as changing a light bulb, figuring he should keep up his skills, since he’s an electrician. Or maybe he could clean out his closet and get rid of worn-out T-shirts that read, “Impeach Nixon” and “First Annual Devil Mountain Run.” Or how about getting that condemned backyard playhouse up to code before our grandson hired a personal injury attorney.

Moments after I began listing all the things we need to have done around here, he switched on the TV and surfed nearly 200 channels until he found a must-see show on the History Channel called, “Modern Marvels: Distilleries.” Then, over a beer, he got out a bunch of fake paperwork he found in his closet, spread it all over the kitchen table, and occasionally ruffled a paper when I turn to check on him.

When I called his bluff and asked him what he was “working” on, he gave his standard answer: “Taxes.” He always says “taxes” when he wants to stop a conversation. He knows that if I say anything more, he’ll give his usual speech: “Well, if you didn’t spend so much money, we wouldn’t have any taxes.” Inevitably, it’s all my fault.

After more shuffling of papers, he soon had several mountains of receipts, checks, and bills strewn about the table, barely leaving enough room for his three TV remotes, his beer, and the leftover Halloween candy. I suggested that, instead of keeping his tax materials in a plastic Target bag, he enter them into the computer like other people so the entire process is easier at tax time. He said he couldn’t find the TurboTax program I bought him last year or the Quicken program I got him this year but he planned to find them soon and get organized.

Unable to take any more of this, I headed out to pick up a DVC schedule, hoping he might sign up for a mini-class like “What To Do With Your Life When You’re Out of Work For a Few Days” or “How to Keep From Annoying Your Wife When You’re Home All Day.” When I returned, I found him lying on the couch killing robots with lightning bolts, racking up the top score against a bunch of nine-year-old competitors.

At that point I sat back down at my computer to finish my column, which would practically be the sole support of the family until his work picked up again, and wondered what I was going to write about next week, after I’d murdered him with one of his own Xbox cords. I do hate to lose a good source of material.


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