Issue 15

Very Important Things



                Ever have a day completely out of control with Very Important Things?

                Very Important Things (VITs for short) have a life of their own and they have to get done.  It doesn't matter if there is a beautiful sunset to watch or the big game on.  These things know how important they are, and they demand our immediate attention.

                The VITs in my life usually strike on the weekend, that sacrosanct time that is mine, all mine, to spend however I want.  That is, unless the VITs come calling.  First there's those rotten VITs from the week, ones from work that didn't get taken care of because of, well, other things that simply had to get done like answering the phone and dealing with email.  There's nothing quite like a presentation due Monday morning (who's the jerk who volunteered to give it on Monday morning?!?) to sour the weekend.  On Wednesday the presentation was only a thing.  Thursday afternoon it became important.  Saturday morning it earned its very stripes.

                If it was only one VIT like a presentation, things wouldn't be so bad.  Unfortunately, the shark that handles my procrastination loan usually calls in all my debts on a day like this.  When I procrastinate, I borrow on time in the future for use today.  Sometimes I get away with never having to pay that time back.  Then a day like this comes along and all my procrastination comes back to haunt me with interest.  Before I'm even halfway through the presentation, I discover that I must absolutely fix the leaky toilet today because my mother-in-law is coming over for a visit and that the pile of really bad movies I rented Tuesday are due back today.  My gut says to return the movies first; on principle alone I refuse to waste another penny on them, especially at late-fee rates.  However, sanity prevails, as does priority over principle.  Both the presentation and movies can wait: you don't know my mother-in-law.

                This isn't the first time I'll be side-tracked.  After discovering that I forgot to do any of my regular morning chores like giving the dogs their breakfast (I throw them four biscuits each, which should be about the same as a cup of kibble), I find Rebecca working hard in the backyard and with a truckload of bags that need to be brought down to the garage.  It only take a minute, she says.  A minute at lightspeed, I discover.  Ten minutes to carry them all down, ten minutes to figure out how to fit them in the garage until garbage day, ten minutes to clean up the bag that broke all over my back, and ten minutes to take a hot shower.

                "I thought you were working on your presentation," Rebecca says as I towel myself off.  The phone rings.  "Can you get that?  I've got my hands full."  I pick up the phone, weighing the odds that I'd be better off letting the machine pick it up.  "Hey, it's Fred.  How's it goin'?"  There's no time for me to answer.  "Hey, how come you never call?"  I really do want to talk with Fred, although I could do without the guilt for once, but the VITs are pressing in.  Another VIT attacks without warning: I step in a pile of dog puke.

                While the dog puke does send me back to the bathroom and takes another four minutes to clean up, it takes me less time than a typical conversation with Fred, so I figure I'm ahead for the first time today.  Mistake to think this, for it jinxes me: on the trip to the garage I stumble on my son Skylar's bouncy chair which I need to put into the attic.  I lay the bag of puke on the washing machine as I pick up the chair.  Only yesterday he sat in it on my desk while I wrote; now he's too big.

                What am I thinking?  Even children know that the worst monsters hide either under the bed or in the attic.  And there they are, waiting for me: the guitar I always wanted to learn to play ("pick me up , pick me up"), the box of letters from college which still need sorting, Christmas lights, piles of unread magazines, stuff to donate, my old records…

                I flee from the attic and down the stairs.  The flashing light on the VCR tells me that either it is midnight and the day is completely gone or, very importantly, that it needs to be reset if I want my favorite show to be recorded later.  There is no place to hide from them, VITs everywhere, surrounding me, outnumbering me, more than I can possibly handle.  I stagger backwards into the nursery, completely overwhelmed.

                Turning, I see Skylar lying awake, watching me patiently from his crib.  He makes no sound, no demand for me to get or do something for him.  The look on his face tells me that he understands that I have Very Important Things to care of right now.  So I do.

                And there's not another VIT that can stop me.



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