I don't opine on matters beyond my personal experience because when I do I am wrong approximately two-thirds of the time, a poor average, worse than the President's, but now, after five weeks of doing nothing, I am an authority on the subject of indolence and glad to share my views with you.
First of all, the way to get five weeks of vacation is to have open-heart surgery. It is the perfect cover. Bipolar depression is a downer and TB makes your friends nervous and a hip replacement is terribly inconvenient, but cardiac surgery poses few risks, is mostly painless and has a grandeur about it that erases all obligations, social and professional. It is the Get Out of Work card. All you do is put a hand to your chest, and people hold the door open for you and help you into a rocker.
So here I sit on my sunny terrace. There's a soda-water fountain and the buzzing of the bees in the cigarette trees, just like in the song. I sit in my pajamas and work the Times crossword and sip peppermint tea and, it being almost Labor Day, I sit and think about work. And then I write a limerick. Of all the useless things a person can do, limerick writing is right up there with golf and fishing.
There was a young lady of D.C. Who was liberal and tasteful and p.c. Except now and then She enjoyed redneck men Who didn't know A.D. from B.C. "When it comes to the masculine specie," She said, "I like vulgar and greasy. Sensitive guys Tend to theologize And I am not St. Clare of Assisi." It takes half an hour to write this. It is useless work. But I'm quite happy about rhyming greasy with Assisi. Happiness is in the details. An indolent man awakes in the morning and thinks, "Wow. A shower with shampoo with aloe in it. Then orange juice not made from concentrate. Seven-grain toast with butter. Jamaican coffee. One Across: A waitress (slang)," and he gets all giddy and happy.
Back when I was a kid, I spent a summer picking potatoes at a neighbor's farm. Slouched up and down the rows, stooped over, dragging a burlap bag full of spuds, dust in my nostrils, body all aching and racked with pain, and it seems to me that I have been picking potatoes in one form or another ever since. The boss man, Mr. Marse, kept telling me that potato picking is a great challenge and a boon to civilization and the manly thing to do and that if I quit working, my life would lose purpose and meaning and I would be unable to bear the shame.
You were wrong about that, Mr. Marse.
It is a lovely life, doing nothing. God never intended for me to work hard. I can see that now. My true calling is to live unencumbered and follow the fleeting impulses of my heart and take a nap around 2 p.m. whether I want to or not. I worked hard for years out of plain fear and ignorance and also to impress women and have the funds to take them to restaurants that serve poached salmon with a light saffron sauce on a bed of roses and then bring them home to Tara and when they say, "Wow! What a big house you have!" to say, "Come in and let me show you my art."