She asks me not to roost in just any room
Mary Ellen and I have a standing argument—literally, a standing argument. She claims that the first thing I do when I enter a room is sit down. “That makes you seem old,” she said, “and I know you are concerned about not portraying that image.” Which surprised me, because I always thought it was my wrinkly skin and balding pate that led to that assessment.
“For example,” she said, “when we went to Bob and Cathy’s for Thanksgiving, you sat down as soon as we walked in the house, while everyone else was chatting in the front hall.”
“I wasn’t feeling well and I don’t think it’s fair to count the bathroom.”
Then recently, we were shopping on Mass Avenue in Indy. As soon as we walked in a quaint little boutique, I sat down. Mary Ellen noticed. After we left, she said she was worried.
“When I saw you do that, I thought, oh dear, frail and 100 years old.”
“Well, that’s pretty mean, Mary Ellen.”
“No, Dick. Not you. The chair was a hundred years old. We were in an antique store.”
The irony of all this is that sometimes I stand when I should sit. I never sit when I eat lunch; I stand over the kitchen sink and snarf down a sandwich. Who has time to walk all the way to the table? Sometimes I don’t even make it to the counter; I just nibble my way from shelf to shelf in the fridge. I only do this when Mary Ellen is away from home, but when she gets back it’s hard to explain mustard and ketchup droppings in the vegetable bin.
I became very obsessive about this standing/sitting thing. I didn’t want Mary Ellen to see me as the “older” man she married, so I checked with her everywhere we went.
“Can I sit here?” I asked one evening.
“Yes, Dick, you can sit there. We’re in a restaurant.”
That weekend I was still on alert. Maybe overly so.
“Are you going to stand all evening?” Mary Ellen asked me.
“I don’t want you to think I look elderly if I sit down too soon.”
“Dick, no one will recognize you. It’s dark in this theater.”
To make me even more paranoid, I was constantly reminded that my Apple Watch tracks my movements. And I was not doing very well. Every once in a while, the dial lights up to report how much time I’ve spent standing versus sitting. Apparently, to pass Apple standards, you need to “stand and move at least one minute 12 different hours in the day for a week.” I had to read that directive several times to understand it. Like when my pill jar says: Take two tablets three times a day with or without food. Huh? What?
By the way, you can find all kinds of advice online about how to cheat the watch. Yes, people actually do this. One guy admitted flapping his arms like a bird before he went to bed because he discovered it fools the watch when it registers your standing time. I tried that one night so I could show Mary Ellen on my watch that I had made some improvement. She caught me flapping.
Now she no longer tells me not to sit: she tells me not to roost.
Dick Wolfsie spent his career sharing his humor, stories and video essays on television, radio and in newspapers. His columns appear weekly in The Paper of Montgomery County. E-mail Dick at Wolfsie@ aol.com