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Jeff Whitten: Thoughts on the stimulus
editor's notes

I have been having thoughts about the stimulus. I need one.

This because it seems every time I turn around at the house these days, Matthew is there.

A retired fellow much in demand in my wife’s circle of friends, Matthew’s always on the go – either painting something, or hanging something, or unhanging something. Sometimes he beats stuff with a hammer. Sometimes he drills holes in things, or gets under sinks and swaps things out.

Far as I can tell, so far 2021 isn’t even three months old and already he’s painted lots of stuff, put on shutters and put in a whole new sink, which I didn’t notice for two weeks. He’s rewired a light, and fixed up a hole in the house, and put on new doorknobs.

And that’s just 2021. Some time back he rebuilt our pump house, wired up another light in the barn and repaired the back door and fixed the upstairs toilet no one ever uses. He’s also put down tile, and taken up tile, and put down something else that looks like wood but isn’t. It’s better.

My wife tells me she keeps Matthew hopping because, well, I am not any good at it. Any of it.

“I love you,” she said. “But you just don’t have it in you. In fact, I don’t even know how you put together a paper every week.”

She says that often. That’s when I give her an evil grin and assure her putting a paper together every week is very much like making sausage, only worse.

Making a paper, I say, includes fooling about with innards and jaws and eyeballs and guts and giblets, and things that look sort of a lot like dog snot. It makes regular people queasy just thinking about it.

That does not seem to make much headway with my wife, who is always right.

While I am good at some stuff, like mowing grass and weed eating and toting things up and down stairs, there are some things I simply cannot do.

I do not have it in me, as my wife puts it.

For example, I cannot wiggle my ears. This has been much to my chagrin ever since Army boot camp on Fort Sill. That’s where I met Styles, who could wiggle his ears like you wouldn’t believe and would do it at any opportunity. It was particularly something to see him wiggle his ears while at attention in formation.

The drill sergeants knew something was up, but they could never figure it out. They’d circle him like wolves, sniffing at him and looking for a weakness, trying to find out just what in Sam Hill he was up to so they could punish him for it.

Styles, in turn, was magnificent and brave. He had a big round head and rosy red cheeks that made him look like the kind of kid who’d be an Eagle Scout.

But oh, no. Styles was a rebel.

“Flap,” his ears would go as the drill sergeants looked him over, “flap flap flap.”

“You moving when you’re supposed to be at attention Styles?”

“No drill sergeant!”

Flap, flap. Take that, Army.

I spent half of basic and a good chunk of AIT trying to master the art of ear wiggling. Had I put that much energy into my military career, I might have retired as sergeant major of the Army, well, probably not, but that still wouldn’t have been as neat as being able to wiggle my ears.

Ah well.

I also cannot plumb, and generally start cussing about two minutes after I stick my head under a sink or into the back of a toilet.

What kind of maniac put pipes and drains and floats and things down where nobody can get to them? If it were up to me, all that stuff would be right out to the side at chest height, where you could keep an eye on it.

It would certainly not be hidden away somewhere where anything is liable to happen and require a specialist who charges you and arm and a leg to fix the mess you made trying to save a few bucks.

Ah well, indeed.

I also do not fare well with things that require great patience, such as building anything more complicated than lean-to birdhouses. And don’t put me anywhere near electricity. Electricity is scary magic.

It’s not for lack of want to, though my wife recognizes in me a born procrastinator, the guy Joe Walsh sang about in the song “Tomorrow:” “Tomorrow, makin’ a list of things to do “And when I wake up, uh uh uh oh “Gonna cross off a few “There must be millions of reasons “To try and explain, you’re never through “When they give you twenty-four hours “Only so much a man can do “Tomorrow, made up my mind “Gonna get busy, come from behind “Today I’m staying right where I am “Break a few rules, make a few plans “There’s thousand of things “To keep you from doing what you wanna do “And if it isn’t this then it’s that “Back where it’s at, and you’re never through “There must be millions of reasons “Thousands of things, just to name a few “I’m gonna spend the rest of today Makin’ a list of things to do “But I’ll do ‘em all tomorrow, uh uh uh oh Tomorrow, uh uh uh oh It can wait until tomorrow.”

I like Joe Walsh. He gets it. Life’s short and nobody lives forever. Why do today what you can postpone until tomorrow, so Matthew can do it.

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