Business is booming. If you climbed into a SmartCar, accelerated it to 88 mph, opened the door, jumped out, dusted yourself off, stepped into a time machine, traveled back to the year 2008, and told my recently college-graduated self that I would be a successful businessman in just eight years, I would have screamed and called the police. I know what you’re thinking: “Why the 88 mph SmartCar?” Because it’s a hilarious visual, that’s why. As for the business in question, I am course referring to my meteoric rise as a professional Cat-Sitter. Perhaps you’ve read about it in some of the trade’s most reputed periodicals? Just last week, I was on the cover of BusinessTreat Magazine. And keep your eyes-peeled for a feature write-up on yours truly in an upcoming issue of Furbes. What’s my secret formula to becoming a wildly successful Cat-Sitter in under a decade? Take one part luck, two parts determination, add a dash of catnip and a dollop of Tuna Flavored Furball Remedy Gel, mix it all up in a blender, and then serve that bad-boy on a crystal serving tray, just like they do in the cat food for one-percenters commercials. Repeat this every day for eight years (make sure to clean the blender, or you’ll start attracting raccoons), and one day, your business partner will go on vacation and ask you to feed and medicate his 16-year-old cat (let’s call her “Old Ironsides” to protect her anonymity), and it’s your time to shine. That’s it. That’s all there is to it. Checkmate, Cat-Sitter Graduate Schools.
I’m being driven insane. I’m living in a forsaken reality of double-speaking shadow puppets, hell-bent on pushing me closer and closer to the twisting nether of eternal un-reason. I’m talking, of course, about buying a car. For the uninitiated, buying a car is the closest you will ever come to thinking the rest of the world is engaged in a vast conspiracy against you. For the initiated, buying a car is the ultimate tribute to our mega lord and sorcerer, Volksworgun. May He drive for one million miles [honks horn 666 times]. Oh, you want a safe, reliable car that won’t burst into flames if you put too many clementines in its trunk? GIVE ME YOUR SOUL FOR 24 TO 60 MONTHS! Oh, you’ve read on the internet, the meeting place of heathens and heretics, that auto loans are terrible, and you’re better off buying a used car in cash? NO BIRTHDAY PRESENTS OR VACATIONS UNTIL YOU’RE DEAD! Now, say 50 Hail Mercury’s and 100 Our Forrester’s and watch 20 car commercials on YouTube. By the way, we just got a brand new 2015 Mazda Mule on the lot, but this baby is going to move quick. While you wait for it to be brought around, may I offer you a Dixie cup of Kool-Aid? It’s not poisoned.Wait. Let me check. Yes, this one is not poisoned.
Are you sitting down? Because I’m standing up. No, I’m not dictating this to Wolfgang, my German amanuensis who acts as combination stenographer and bratwurst consultant. Besides, Wolfgang doesn’t understand English (a bit of an oversight during my search for a literary assistant capable of taking dictation), and also, he doesn’t exist. Sigh. Perhaps someday, when the Cat Joke Blog Executives hand me a giant check that is in the shape of a cat, I will have enough money to send for a person named Wolfgang by cross-Atlantic steamship. Until then, my dear Wolfgang. Until then. Where was I? Oh, right. Standing! I recently invested in a standing desk, and it has drastically improved my productivity. As a former sitter, I was constantly inventing the most inane excuses to walk away from my work. Some of my greatest hits included “Maybe I Should Get Another Soda,” and “I Wonder If Anything Interesting Is Happening in the Supply Closet,” and who could forget the timeless classic, “I Probably Have ADD?” But thanks to my standing desk, those mind numbing tunes are no longer anywhere near my personal Top 40. And besides being better for you back and metabolism, standing desks allow you the glorious option to work in
the nude your bathrobe. Seriously, have you ever tried sitting in an office chair in the nude your bathrobe? It’s not a good feeling.
Today is a very special day.
No, I’m not being inducted into the mafia. First of all, the mafia doesn’t exist. And B) do you really think an organization as cool and exclusive and cool as the mafia would have their super secret induction ceremony, which is held in the freezer in the basement of the Burlington Mall Cheesecake Factory, on a Tuesday?
Don’t answer that. I’ve said too much already.
The reason today is a very special day is because I have unilaterally decided that the Tuesday after Labor Day (for my non-American readers, Labor Day is a national holiday during which people celebrate hard work by not working (which, if you really think about it, is like celebrating Earth Day on top of a landfill)) is The Real New Year.
On this day, kids and teachers are back at school, college football players are back at their unpaid NCAA internships, and Congress is back from the beach, showering off in their oceanfront vacation homes’ outdoor showers, laughing about how they’re still totally on vacation (a little bit of the shower water gets in their mouths, though, causing them to gag, but then they start laughing again, and more water gets in their mouths, and they decide that, as a general policy, they’re going to try not to laugh in the shower anymore).
Compare this to January 1st, a day that is marked only by hangovers and tenuous promises of self-improvement. Hmm, that kinda sorta sounds like THE DAY AFTER LABOR DAY.
I rest my case. Happy Real New Year, everybody.
In the brief time I’ve been alive on this giant watery marble, I’ve come to appreciate two maxims.
One: I like ponds.
Two: Life is messy.
The first maxim took me nearly twenty-eight years to appreciate. That’s almost 10,220 days of being in or around small bodies of water, usually populated by good-natured water fowl (and Canadian Geese), and not having the faintest idea why people spent so much of their precious free time staring at lillie pads and ducks.
Well, I was an idiot.
I now realize that ponds possess the uncanny ability to provide a sanctum of elemental peace and restorative self-reflection. When I walk by the pond near our house every morning on my way to the train station, the stresses of daily life seem to disappear into the frothy white caps at the center of that wind-swept lakelet like egg yolks in a meringue.
Which brings me to maxim number two: life is messy.
I learned this one in the span of three minutes and thirty seconds.
8:19:00 AM – I’m late for the 8:20 train because I was staring at the pond, thinking about pastries. My pace quickens to a jog as I hear it approaching the station.
8:19:30 AM – My pace quickens to a sprint as passengers disembark the idling train.
8:20:00 AM – I clamber up the steps onto the train just as it lurches forward. The passengers stare at me, probably because I am sweating and wheezing and wearing the mismatched walking clothes I bought at Goodwill for twelve dollars.
8:20:30 AM – I spot an empty seat next to a serious looking woman in a business suit. I sit, but not before flinging my backpack onto the luggage rack directly above said woman’s tightly ratcheted hair bun.
8:21:00 AM – The woman screams as luke-warm coffee pours out of the travel mug – the one I had forgotten to remove from the side pocket of my backpack before tossing it like a sack of potatoes – onto her head and down her back.
8:22:00 AM – After sixty seconds of ferrying toilet paper from the bathroom to the woman while apologizing so rapidly it sounded like I was speaking Spanish, I disembark the train at the next station.
8:22:30 AM – I hail a cab.