Every night at dinner my wife and I ask each other, “What are you doing tomorrow?” I’m not sure why we do that. We never to listen to the answer. In the morning we repeat the question. Then later that night when we both arrive home, we ask again: “So…what did you do today?” We get the same response as before, but it’s always fun to hear it for the first time.

We are both retired from full-time work, yet my wife is still constantly busy. She always has something to do. I, on the other hand, sometimes have nothing to do. I mean NOTHING. Honestly, I look forward to that. I try to run every errand the day before it’s scheduled, take care of any obligation related to my part-time work at WISH-TV, and make sure my column is written early. Then I can wake up in the morning and when Mary Ellen says, “Tell me again, what are you doing today?” I can say: nothing. And when she gets home at 6:00 p.m. and asks, “What did you do today?” Once again, I can say: nothing, or better yet, absolutely nothing.

My friend Bob is retired. I often call him, but he’s seldom home. I figure he’s doing something. So, just this morning, when I successfully managed to have absolutely nothing to do, I called him. “Hey, Bob. I can’t believe you’re home. What are you doing?”

“Nothing, what about you?”

“Hey, that’s exactly what I’m doing. And I thought I was the only one who was that lucky.”

“Dick, when I say nothing, I don’t literally mean nothing. I’m paying some bills, doing a couple loads of laundry, cleaning out the car. You know, nothing, really.”

“You call that nothing? That’s something. Don’t you know anything about nothing? Now, I am really doing nothing.”

“Look, are you bored, Dick? Do you want to do something?”

“No, Bob, that’s the whole point. I want to have nothing to do with you.”

“Well, you don’t have to get nasty about it.”

I had had enough of Bob. I called my wife. She always wants to know if I’m up to something. “Mary Ellen, it’s me. I wanted you to know I am home right now and I really have nothing to do.”

“You’re at home where the lawn needs to be mown, the back deck needs to be washed, and the garage needs to be cleaned… and you say you have nothing to do? I’d like you to get all that done before I get home tonight. Now go do something.”

Mary Ellen kind of put a damper on the whole darn day. Now, all of a sudden, I have like nine things to do. I guess I better get started on my chores.

I might as well. After all, I have nothing else to do.

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Mary Ellen and I have been happy together for so long that we sometimes forget how much we annoy each other, so on the trip back home from our recent vacation, it was time catch up on our bad habits.

For example, I told Mary Ellen that she is a relentless pointer. She points at everything. “See that pretty house,” she’ll say, and then she points at it; or, look at that sunset (she points, like I don’t know where the sun is); “Your turn signal is on,” and then  she directs her finger at the blinker. Really, is that necessary?

“Dick, I thought you liked it on a vacation when I pointed things out.”

”I do like it when you point things out, I just don’t want you to point at them.”

Then I told her that it drove me nuts that everything we saw, she called “pretty.”  Pretty sunsets, pretty mountains, pretty houses, pretty lakes, pretty much everything. Then she gave me a look that pretty much ended that conversation. Except now it was her turn…

“I never really told you this, Dick, but it drives me crazy when we go somewhere to eat, as soon as we sit down, you pretend you have to go to the restroom. What you are really doing is walking around the restaurant inspecting other people’s food.  Other than the Board of Health, who does something so weird?”

“Okay, I admit it. When I see it on another person’s plate, I get a better idea whether I should order it. I don’t think that is so odd.”

“That’s not the odd part. It’s asking for a taste that’s a little peculiar.  And, here’s another thing you do. You are so impatient that after we order you keep looking around to be sure that no one who came in after us is served first.”

“Wait a second. I remember a few years we were somewhere and even you were complaining that we were supposed to be next.”

“Dick, you do realize the difference between the emergency room and Applebee’s, right?”

“Anything else, Dear?”

“Yes. When you order, you make a dozen substitutions. The other day we went to a pub and you ordered their signature baked ham sandwich. But instead of ham you wanted corned beef, and instead of mustard you wanted thousand island dressing. Then you substituted sauerkraut for the cole slaw. Why didn’t you just order a Reuben?”

“I don’t like Reubens.”

“And, finally, as soon as we are served, the first thing you do is ask if you can taste my dinner.”

“Now wait a second, that isn’t so unusual.”

“It is when we’ve ordered the same thing.”

As we made our way back home through Michigan, Mary Ellen and I placed a little wager on who could go the longest without lapsing into one of our annoying habits. When we exited the highway toward a quaint little town, Mary Ellen abruptly sat on her hands and said, “Oh Dick look at that pr…pr…cute little café on your right. Let’s eat there.”

Mary Ellen thought the lunch was fabulous, but I couldn’t say. You see, I really wanted to win that bet,  so I stayed in the car.




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