‘Be your wife’s best friend’

'Be your wife's best friend' By Bob Karolevitz Somebody gave me a tiny publication titled Life's Little Instruction Book. It was No. 1 on the New York Times best-seller list a while back, and it contains 511 suggestions on what you should do to be happy and find fulfillment.

Among the thoughtful tips are one-liners like:

*Don't drive on slick tires.

*Learn a card trick.

*Don't rain on other people's parade.

*Cut your own firewood.

*Don't ever watch hot dogs and sausages being made.

I was really enjoying those pithy points for a good life by Author H. Jackson Brown, Jr., until I got to the one that read: "Keep your desk and work area neat."

Unfortunately, Phyllis saw that sneaky sentence, too!

Among our little bones of contention (note the plural bones) has been her assessment of what she calls my "boar's nest."

"No wonder you can never find anything when you need it," she is wont to say. "Why don't you do something about that unsightly accumulation."

Basically, I'm not a messy guy. The reason I've got books and papers scattered all over the place is because they contain items which I might have to use in a column I'm writing. At least that's my excuse.

"It's called research," I point out. "Just because it isn't neatly filed or piled doesn't mean that it's not important."

"For instance, I might want to write a piece about aardvarks some day," I explain. "That's why I've got the stack of notes and clippings about ant-eaters which I don't want to throw away."

My arguments fall on deaf ears, however. Phyllis wants to vacuum and dust, which she says she can't do without disturbing my collections of materials on Millard Fillmore, Thor motorcycles, 12-cylinder cars, baseball memorabilia, World War II tanks, Duroc hogs, Greek mythology, etc., etc.

When that stuff is out where I can see it on the floor or my desk top, it inspires me to action. If I put it away in the filing cabinets, I may just forget it � out of sight, out of mind, so to speak.

I've got to admit, though, that I have a few piles on top of piles so that I'm not so sure what's underneath. I suppose I should do something about that some time.

Actually, this minor confrontation might not have occurred if Phyllis hadn't seen Instruction No. 162 in Jackson Brown's otherwise delightful little book (published by Rutledge Hill Press of Nashville, Tenn., incidentally). Under the circumstances, though, I wish he'd have stuck to things like:

*Don't use a toothpick in public.

*Patronize drug stores with soda fountains.

*Never eat the last cookie.

*Never give anyone a fruitcake.

*Leave the toilet seat in the down position.

He was doing fine until he invaded the sanctity of my office; but, on the other hand, he also wrote Suggestion No. 179: "Be your wife's best friend."

I hope Phyllis read that one, too, because that's what I'm trying to do.

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